Forty-five years, 3,200 alumni, and more than 16,000 clients annually—all in the name of public service.
When political science professor emeritus Edward Bronson established the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC) in 1970, it was the nation’s first university-based legal clinic operated by undergraduates. To his knowledge, it remains the only one of its kind.
“At the time, you just didn’t put students in roles like that,” said Bronson, who established CLIC to meet the legal needs of underrepresented residents in Butte County.
As the program’s founder and biggest benefactor, Bronson has watched it grow from a local bail and welfare rights project that he ran with a handful of students to a legal clinic managed by two student administrative directors, 17 program directors, and more than 100 interns supervised by four attorneys—all of whom are former CLIC students themselves.
“I just learned to sort of get out of their way and let them grow and learn.”
—Professor Emeritus Edward Bronson, on the success and impact of CLIC students
“It is miraculous,” he said of the center that now annually serves more than 16,000 clients, who are often low-income or have little access to legal services. “I just learned to sort of get out of their way and let them grow and learn. And they did.”
CLIC interns change lives every day. They act as legal advocates for clients with disabilities at federal administrative hearings; assist domestic violence survivors with restraining orders; and research answers to inmates’ questions about their charges, trial procedures, jail conditions, and parole—and these are just a few ways students gain paralegal experience in 12 areas of law.
“This was one of the best experiences I had,” said Sally Anderson (BA, Political Science, ’96), who was the CLIC Women’s Law program director in 1995 and 1996, giving her a running start in law school.
Many, but not all, of CLIC’s student staff and interns carve out their professional paths with the help of another Bronson legacy—the legal studies option in political science, which requires the kind of paralegal internship CLIC offers.
“Once you’re part of the CLIC family, you’re in.”
—Sally Anderson (’96), Legal Studies Coordinator
A community of 3,200 former interns work across the country in law, social work, public policy, and numerous other professional arenas. No matter their backgrounds or career plans, Bronson’s hope has always been that students “see what the other part of the world faces every day.”
“I think people come in thinking ‘everyone has these rights,’” said Anderson, who is now one of CLIC’s supervising attorneys and the Legal Studies Internship Coordinator.
Each year, she witnesses students absorbing what it means to work with people who experience legal barriers related to racism, sexism, culture, disability, poverty, violence, incarceration, and systematic lack of access to resources. They grapple, as she did, with important questions: “When actually trying to apply those rights and to assert those rights, how does it work? Is the system stacked against the individual?”
In the mid-’80s, Bronson passed the role as CLIC’s primary advisor to one of his earliest CLIC students, alumna and political science professor Teddy DeLorenzo (BA, Political Science, ’76) who acted as the directing attorney for more than 30 years.
Bronson continues to support interns with the Bronson Excellence in Legal Studies Merit Award he established in 1990. His dedication to public law and belief in students’ abilities has impacted countless students, alumni, and faculty, as well as tens of thousands of clients across the nation, inspiring a growing community of CLIC supporters.
“I think all of the faculty in CLIC have donated in some way or another. I donate to this program because I believe in it, I’ve been in it, and I’m a faculty member working in it,” Anderson said. “Once you’re part of the CLIC family, you’re in.”