Central Valley

The mission of the Central Valley BLAST is to introduce students to the unique legal issues of rural poverty in California and to be thoughtful, supportive partners with community members already working in the area. We understand that we won’t be able to change things within our week trip, we will need to be flexible to the organizations’ needs, and we may not be able to see our tasks to the end. Instead, the purpose of the project is to create a unique mentorship and learning experience. We will practice substantive legal work outside the law school under attorney supervision; gain awareness of our privilege as Berkeley Law students; and learn about how important the Central Valley is to California’s history, its economy, and its environmental and immigration trends. Perhaps most importantly, the project is an opportunity to promote future careers in the Central Valley. Lawyers are concentrated in large cities like the Bay Area, leaving a dearth of resources and huge unmet need in the rest of California. Our goal is to open students’ eyes to the possibilities beyond the big cities.

BLAST Central Valley will be cooperating directly with two different organizations stationed in the Central Valley. Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to develop skills in direct-client interviews, document preparation, legal research, and participation with various clinical services. In addition to providing the legal services described below, we hope that students will be able to develop or deepen their understanding of the various social, political, and other environmental issues that persist in the Central Valley
As of now, the following organizations are committed to BLAST Central Valley, and students will be divided as described below:

Central California Legal Services (CCLS): One group of students will be paired with CCLS to provide direct-legal services to low-income residents across the CentralValley. Past BLAST/CCLS projects have included housing clinics, expungement clinics, trust and estate services, and homelessness education. 

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND): The other group of students will work with KIND, engaging in research relating to immigration law and assisting in filing asylum applications for children living in the Central Valley

Time Commitment: Apart from our Spring Break commitment, we anticipate having approximately one meeting every month, for around 2 hours each. Aside from meetings devoted to introductions and introducing the historical background around the Central Valley, we intend to have meetings to discuss readings/resources assigned, training sponsored by our pro bono partners, meeting attorneys, etc.

For more information, please contact the student leaders at blastcv@berkeley.edu.