The lack of legal representation in the community—particularly for low-income or underserved communities—was glaring.
“People were having all kinds of problems and couldn’t get help,” recalled Professor Emeritus Ed Bronson. “Maybe they weren’t getting their Social Security, maybe they were being cheated by a landlord, maybe they had a domestic problem. The list went on and on.”
Bronson, then a newly hired professor in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, thought of an idea to bridge the gap: create a free legal assistance clinic for those who most need it, using the expertise of faculty and supervising attorneys to guide scores of political science majors. If he could pull it off, the program would be the nation’s first university-based legal clinic operated by undergraduate students.
The Community Legal Information Clinic (CLIC) at Chico State opened its doors to the public in 1970—and the demand for its services has not wavered in 50 years. Today, CLIC remains the country’s largest, most comprehensive, and longest-running university-based legal clinic of its kind. The visionary program maintains a deep commitment to helping communities as far south as Sacramento and along the state’s northern and eastern borders.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CLIC office lobby—located at 25 Main Street, Suite 102—is closed to the public for in-person inquiries, but the office continues to accept inquiries via phone, email, and postal mail.
Through the years, student-initiated programs were added to meet identified needs, and today the clinic focuses on 11 different areas of law ranging from housing to disabilities and women’s rights to environmental law.
The clinic has engaged at least 3,500 Chico State student interns in the last five decades, estimates political science professor and CLIC supervising attorney Sally Anderson (Political Science, ’96). Those students manage about 12,000 client contacts annually, averaging more than 8,350 hours of public service per year.
“CLIC has transformed so many lives, including those of our students and the people they have served,” said Anderson, an alumna of the program herself. “If you look at the volume of CLIC alumni, you begin to see the sheer amount of positive influence the clinic has had on our communities, the state, and beyond.”
As student interns jumpstart their legal careers or prepare for law school, they learn from real-life clients instead of hypotheticals from a textbook.
Many alumni go on to robust careers in law, ranging from public defenders to private practice to clerking for the US Supreme Court. Their passion springs from a similar source.
As the following four Wildcats can attest, CLIC is where professional futures begin—all driven by a desire to help people in need, fight for the underdog, and provide justice for the community.