The State Bar’s commitments to access, diversity, and inclusion are front and center in the agency’s Strategic Plan, spanning the work of multiple offices. We are the state’s largest legal aid funder. Our many initiatives, outlined below, focus where our statewide reach and role as a regulator enable us to have the greatest impact.
The State Bar's Office of Access & Inclusion and the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission administer grants to nonprofit organizations that provide legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients. In 2020 approximately $78 million in grant funding was delivered to about 100 such nonprofits across the state. Find out how to apply.
All lawyer referral services must be certified by the State Bar in order to operate in California. We work to ensure that organizations that refer an attorney to members of the public meet minimum standards, assist those in need of legal services to find a qualified, insured attorney or other appropriate legal services, provide the public with general information about appropriate legal services, and establish services for persons of limited means. This program is administered by the Office of Professional Competence. Find out more about lawyer referral services certification.
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The State Bar waives the active status annual fee for eligible attorneys who do pro bono work exclusively with a qualified legal services provider, a State Bar-certified lawyer referral service, a no-fee or pro bono panel or a court-based self-help center that is in compliance with California Rule of Court 10.960.
The State Bar also support the efforts of Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit that uses technology to improve access to justice. Find out more about pro bono opportunities.
We also sponsor and organize workshops to help attorneys learn about the rules in helping clients with issues such as home loan modification and foreclosure, military and health benefits, disaster recovery, and consumer scams. Find out about pro bono training events from the Practising Law Institute.
The State Bar has a number of resources to help direct attorneys seeking pro bono opportunities following a disaster. In the aftermath of disasters, volunteers may be needed to help staff a legal hotline or a resource table at recovery centers. Volunteers may also be needed to conduct legal research, volunteer at clinics, or handle pro bono cases to assist survivors. Online training and technical assistance are available.
There are nearly two million veterans in California, and many of them and their families need legal assistance to receive military and other benefits they have earned. Many don't even know about the legal resources available to members of the military.
Free trainings are available to pro bono attorneys in many of these areas.
In 2019, the State Bar completed the first-ever comprehensive study of the California Justice Gap, measuring the Golden State’s civil legal needs and the gap between those needs and the resources available to meet them. Learn more about the Justice Gap Study.
Since 1997, the State Bar, in collaboration with the California Access to Justice Commission, has published reports and studies on issues to improve access to civil justice for Californians. Read our publications addressing legal aid, veterans needs, and rural opportunities.