California Western School of Law is big on giving back to the community. Alumni pursuing law careers across the country continue to stay connected with their alma mater and keep its public service traditions alive.

Anne-Marie Rábago, director of the Access to Law Initiative, believes an important way for recent law school graduates to establish themselves in their fields is by engaging with their communities.

“When you’re first starting a practice one of the things you have is time on your hands, so why not use that to give back to the community?” Rábago said.

Here are a few of the key ways California Western School of Law alumni get involved in their communities:

Doing Well By Doing Good

Through the Access to Law Initiative offered at California Western School of Law, recent alumni—who want to work solo or at a small firm—get experience in part by providing free legal advice to disadvantaged people. It’s a win-win, really.

Alumni get to practice law while helping San Diegans who wouldn’t typically be able to afford a $300 consultation fee to talk to a lawyer. They advise them on all sorts of legal issues, including domestic violence, immigration, consumer debt, foreclosure, workers comp, and more. City councilman Todd Gloria even funded a clinic in Hillcrest that’s helped 243 people since it started in January.

The hours they spend consulting with clients go toward their annual 100 hours of pro bono work, doubling the American Bar Association’s recommendation of 50 hours.

“By going and working with pro bono organizations, they get training, and they get an opportunity to learn from more senior attorneys, who are usually supervising attorneys from those organizations, and they get an opportunity to work with clients one-on-one,” Rábago said.

Taking a Day to Serve

While the Access to Law Initiative is mainly geared for recent graduates seeking to establish themselves in the legal profession, California Western encourages all of their alumni to get involved and engaged in their communities.

Two years ago, the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors in partnership with the office of Alumni Affairs implemented the California Western Alumni Association Volunteer Day of Service. The goal of this program is to implement local and regional days of community service for all California Western alumni, and takes place annually in May across the state and country.

Last May, about 35 alumni celebrated Mother’s Day at the Ronald McDonald House at Rady Children’s Hospital, serving food to more than 240 families, sponsoring a photo booth on site, and providing roses to all of the moms in attendance.

“We sometimes get so caught up in our firms and in our clients that a lot of us want to give back, but the timing isn’t there,” said Irina Sherbak, co-chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors’ “Supporting the Law School Committee,” which implements the annual program. “I went home with the biggest smile on my face, and that lasted through the entire weekend.”

Staying Connected

Every year, California Western alumni get together for their Alumni Weekend, keeping them connected to their alma mater and to one another.

2014 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award winners Melissa R. Bobrow ’07, Roy M. Bell ’74, and Drew A. Lautemann ‘09.
2014 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award winners Melissa R. Bobrow ’07, Roy M. Bell ’74, and Drew A. Lautemann ‘09.

On Sept. 26, 2015 the office of Alumni Affairs and the Alumni Association Board of Directors hosted the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Awards and Reunion Celebration honoring the accomplishments of four distinguished alumni.

To learn more about the activities and programs sponsored by the office of Alumni Affairs or Alumni Association, please contact Lori Boyle, Director of Alumni Affairs, at or 619-515-1543.

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