News

After several years of intensive advocacy on behalf of Californians desperately in need of legal support and resources, the Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL) is thrilled to report that the California Legislature included a supplemental funding allocation of $16.5 million for California County Law Libraries in the 2018/19 state budget. The Governor signed off on the budget, including the supplemental allocation for County Law Libraries, on June 27.

The need in California is tremendous, if not overwhelming. The additional $16.5 million in funds will ensure that Californians retain access to legal information -- and therefore access to justice. County Law Libraries that were on the brink of closure will now be able to remain open and all California County Law Libraries will continue to serve the general public, particularly those who cannot afford counsel but find themselves facing legal challenges. These new funds will allow the libraries to serve vulnerable populations and rural communities, address disaster preparedness and response and provide service for non-English speakers, especially in areas of immigration, workforce-reentry and housing. In these and many other areas, Californians desperately need help.

Every day, people feel frustrated, helpless, ignored and unable to assert their rights because of their lack of financial resources and legal representation. Every day, California County Law Libraries serve single parents trying to provide for their children, widows struggling to maintain their homes, disadvantaged but determined individuals trying to start their own businesses, distressed parents fighting for custody of their children, modest means individuals trying desperately to care for elderly parents and grandparents, those barred from gainful employment because they don't know how to get criminal records cleared, tenants living in deplorable conditions, victims of notario fraud, DACA children terrified that their families are going to be torn apart and victims of domestic violence and workplace harassment seeking restraining orders.

CCCLL submitted the request for ongoing, stabilized funding of County Law Libraries to preserve access to information and access to justice for these individuals. Funding from the State was critically needed because the civil filing fee revenue that County Law Libraries depend on had dropped by nearly 40% (or $16.5 million) since 2009. Until this allocation, County Law Libraries had not received any general fund or special fund appropriations from the State. Over 90% of County Law Library funding came from a small portion of civil filing fees (ranging from $2 to $50 per case, depending on the county and type of case) which fluctuated unpredictably. In the past 9 years, a decrease in the number of case filings combined with an increase in the number of fee waivers granted, changes to jurisdictional limits and new exemptions adopted into law, caused law library revenue to drop precipitously. California County Law Libraries asked each year for supplemental funding in the state's budget to salvage this critical component of access to justice in California but, until now, did not receive any allocation whatsoever.

This year, the Legislature, recognizing that without County Law Libraries, most people have no access to legal information and therefore no access to justice, took decisive action to protect this critical public resource and the Governor ratified the action by signing the budget.

CCCLL is profoundly grateful to the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees, the Latino Caucus, the 30+ individual legislators who wrote on behalf of County Law Libraries and access to justice, each of the California chapters of AALL (SCALL, NOCALL and SANDALL) who wrote to voice support, and the many other individuals and elected officials who helped make this happen.

As the access to justice gap continues to widen, the need for County Law Library resources and services will only increase. An estimated 70-80% of library users are not legal professionals, but rather individuals trying to understand their rights, navigate the complex judicial system, start a new business or transfer property. The assistance they receive at their county law library is more than can be found in a book or legal database; it is personal assistance, legal research classes for non-lawyers, hands-on workshops, free consultations with lawyers and a safe, friendly, helpful place to ask questions and find help. They may enter the library feeling alienated, stressed or even hostile towards their government, but the support they find at their County Law Library helps them feel that they too can obtain justice. CCCLL will continue to advocate for ongoing funding so that Californians can continue to receive legal assistance and support.

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A message from Sandra Levin, Executive Director, LA Law Library

California Senate Budget Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Funding Crisis for County Law Libraries

On April 19, 2018, I was honored to testify before Senate Budget Subcommittee #5 in support of a budget appropriation for California county public law libraries. After my testimony, twelve other county law librarians and other impassioned speakers also presented their comments in support of adequate funding for County Law Libraries.

Upon completion of the public testimony, the two subcommittee members present both expressed support for county law libraries and a desire to further investigate both one-time and ongoing funding.

Senate Hearing April 19

[Click on image for Video] Skip to 3:22:00 for the portion of the hearing discussing California county law libraries.

Please support

You can add your support to the county law libraries' request for funding by writing Governor Brown and the State Senators and Assemblymembers on the respective budget committees and asking for supplemental funding for County Law Libraries. (On the lists below, Los Angeles County legislators appear in bold type.)

Senate Budget Committee:
Holly J. Mitchell (Chair), Jim Nielsen (Vice Chair), Joel Anderson, Jim Beall, Steven M. Glazer, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mike McGuire, Bill Monning, John M. W. Moorlach, Richard Pan, Anthony J. Portantino, Richard D. Roth, Nancy Skinner, Henry I. Stern, Jeff Stone, Bob Wieckowski, Scott Wilk

Assembly Budget Committee:
Philip Y. Ting (Chair), Jay Obernolte (Vice Chair), Dr. Joaquin Arambula, Richard Bloom, William P. Brough, Anna M. Caballero, Rocky J. Chávez, David Chiu, Steven S. Choi, PhD., Jim Cooper, Vince Fong, Cristina Garcia, Matthew Harper, Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Tom Lackey, Monique Limón, Devon J. Mathis, Kevin McCarty, Jose Medina, Melissa A. Melendez, Kevin Mullin, Al Muratsuchi, Patrick O'Donnell, Jim Patterson, Blanca E. Rubio, Mark Stone, Randy Voepel, Shirley N. Weber, Jim Wood

A video of Thursday's hearing is available at the California Senate Media Archive

  • http://senate.ca.gov/media-archive
  • Select / look for 04/19/2018
  • Select "Senate Budget Subcommittee #5"
  • Skip to 3:22:00 for the portion of the hearing discussing California county law libraries.

The following is a transcript of Ms. Levin's testimony.

Madam Chair and Senators, thank you for this opportunity to talk to you about access to justice in California!

I'm Sandi Levin, Executive Director of the LACLL

127 years ago California showed foresight and leadership by being the first state in the country to prioritize free public access to the law by establishing County Law libraries. Most of the country followed suit.

Unfortunately, though, California's commitment to that ideal has waned in the last decade.

For 127 years, we have been funded by civil filing fee revenue. But, with the adoption of the Uniform Civil Filing Fee Act the state eliminated any local control over those revenues as of 2008. However, the Legislature also established a task force on civil filing fees, which found:

"Without immediate consideration of a filing fee increase or identification of alternative revenue sources, law libraries will not be able to fund their increased operating costs in 2008."

A decade has gone by and we have not received any filing fee increase or any alternative revenue source.

In fact, our funding has DECREASED by 40% since then - with more people going to ADR, more people getting fee waivers and the expansion of small claims court jurisdiction, filing fees for CLLs have plummeted.

This is a problem. This is a problem in the lives of your constituents. Probably the best way to make this point would be to tell you some of our patrons' stories, but I want to respect the time limits.

So let me just say that a half a million times each year someone walks into a county law library in California with their own unique, often desperate, story. Half a million times.

  • People fighting for the safety of their children or grandchildren;
  • People panicking because the order evicting them was the first time they even heard about a lawsuit;
  • People fending for themselves without counsel in deportation proceedings against experienced government attorneys;
  • People trying to start a business or transfer real property or collect on their insurance;
  • People grieving over the death of a loved one who they can't lay to rest because there are legal technicalities they don't understand;
  • People appearing time after time after time in court only to be sent away because they don't understand the process;
  • People who just need a little bit of help and support to find their way

We do our best to help them. Those of us who are still managing to keep our doors open do our best --
despite having lost almost 40% of our funding;
despite shortened hours and closed branches
despite working with out of date materials
despite short staffing and roof leaks and old equipment and every other challenge you can think of.

We do our best.

We're asking you to do your best to make sure County Law Libraries stay open for all Californians.

It doesn't cost a lot. You don't have to hire attorneys for everyone. You don't have to build a whole new infrastructure. You don't have to invent new programs.

We're already here and we're ready to do the work.

We're asking for $16.5 million dollars to be shared among all the County Law Libraries across the state -- to ensure that Californians have access to information and access to justice.

Thank you for your time and attention.

We look forward to seeing you in the law library.

Sandi

 

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On Friday, July 21 2017, Gordon Tokumatsu, reporter for NBC LA, visited the law library for information on the portal and how to participate in dialogues as part of a program with the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. He spoke with our Executive Director, Sandi Levin, and LA portal curator Marayam Hosseinzadeh about the partnership we have with Shared Studios and the importance of the program. If you haven’t stopped by to participate visit www.sharedstudios.com/losangeles and make your appointment today!

To view the segment, please click here or the image below.

Portal

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We are proud to announce our Executive Director, Sandra Levin, has been awarded the Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). This Advocacy Award is given to recognize an AALL member or group who has been an outstanding advocate and has contributed significantly to the AALL policy agenda at the federal, state, local, or international level.

To read more about the award, visit: http://www.aallnet.org/mm/Member-Resources/AALLawards/award-oakley.html

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Los Angeles, CA Friends of Los Angeles County Law Library will host its 2016 Beacon of Justice Award Gala Reception honoring Justice Joan Dempsey Klein and Stephen English and celebrating the 125th Anniversary of LA Law Library on Wednesday, April 6, 2015 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm at the Mildred L. Lillie building of the Law Library in Downtown Los Angeles.

Over 250 attorneys, judges, justices and guests are expected to attend and honor this year’s honorees, Justice Joan Dempsey Klein and Stephen English. During Justice Klein’s five decades on the bench her wisdom, scholarship, and rulings have touched thousands of lives. Justice Klein is the first graduate of UCLA Law School to be appointed to the bench. As co-founder of The National Association of Women Judges, Joan Dempsey Klein has opened doors for women in the profession and is highly regarded as an early leader in the cause for fair and equal access to justice. Stephen English is a committed advocate for legal services for the poor and founding co-director of the Advancement Project, a public policy change organization rooted in the civil rights movement. He has long been a champion of access to justice and served as an early visionary early Board Member of the Friends of the Los Angeles County Law Library.

To buy tickets and/or make a contribution please go to www.friendsoflacll.org. For a complete description and additional information please click here.

About Friends of Los Angeles County Law Library
Supported by the private sector, Friends of the Los Angeles County Law Library is dedicated to raising funds for the LA Law Library. Established in 1891, the LA Law Library is a vital civic institution that serves not only judges, attorneys and government officials but also individuals and self-represented litigants. Friends’ activities raise the visibility of the Law Library and provide a needed, additional base of financial support. Proceeds from past events have been used to expand access, upgrade technology, digitize appellate briefs, provide services to the self-represented, expand our partnerships in public libraries, and support pro bono week activities including the public legal services fair.

About the Los Angeles County Law Library
About the LA Law Library: LA Law Library is a vibrant community education center in Los Angeles County and a leader in providing public access to legal knowledge, putting national and international sources of law into the hands of those seeking legal information. In addition to acting as the curator and cultivator of a superior collection of legal resources comprised of nearly one million volume equivalents -- including one of the nation’s largest foreign and international law collections, LA Law Library serves a gateway to legal information and a navigator facilitating access to the legal system for those who do not have or cannot afford legal representation. Our staff serves more than 50 thousand patrons annually, both nationally and globally, and the number continues to grow daily as new programs and workshops are developed with the assistance of our many partners to provide innovative legal research technology and services. These critical community efforts depend on revenue from civil court filing fees as well as private donations. For additional information on the LA Law Library, please visit www.lalawlibrary.org or call 213.785.2529.

We are grateful to the following Generous Sponsors:

LAW LIBRARY GUARDIANS: Achieving America Family Foundation / Girardi Keese/ Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP / Susan Steinhauser / The Wonderful Company

ACCESS TO JUSTICE BENEFACTORS:
John and Louise Bryson / Edison International, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

COLLECTORS CIRCLE: Sara and Robert L. Adler / Jerome Applebaum / Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles County Law Library / 
Lawrence Braun and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP / Davis Wright Tremaine LLP / Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP/ Loeb & Loeb LLP / Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP / Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
 / Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP / The Rutter Group, a division of Thomson Reuters

REFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP / Greene, Broillet & Wheeler LLP / 
JAMS / Latham & Watkins LLP / Morrison & Foerster Foundation / Miriam Muscarolas and Grant Abramson / Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP / Pansky Markle Ham LLP / Paul Hastings LLP and Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP/ Sidley Austin LLP / Susman Godfrey LLP / Patricia Glaser / LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis / Miriam and Chuck Vogel

AMICUS CLUB: Barbara and Justice Earl Johnson, Jr. (ret.) / Horvitz & Levy / Sajan Kashyap / Nelson & Fraenkel LLP
 / Seltzer Fontaine Beckwith / Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles / Judge Jerry K. Fields (ret.) and Valerie Fields / Martha Tolles and Henry Keck / Justice Lee Smalley Edmon and Judge Richard J. Burdge Jr.

 

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LA Law Library Receives Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Proclamation
Declaring the Fourth Week in October National Pro Bono Week

Los Angeles, October 6, 2015 -  LA Law Library was honored at a recent Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 as Mayor Michael D. Antonovich recognized the Law Library’s efforts and declared October 24-30 as Pro Bono Week throughout Los Angeles County.  Antonovich presented Sandra Levin, LA Law Library’s Executive Director, with an official proclamation from the county marking the occasion. 

“We are grateful to Mayor  Antonovich and the Board of Supervisors for recognizing the importance of Pro Bono week and what it means to the  people of Los Angeles County”, said Levin. “By declaring Pro Bono Week throughout Los Angeles County, the County is helping to make the remarkable opportunities provided at the 2015 Annual Pro Bono Week Celebration available to all.”

Pro Bono Week provides one-on-one consultations with legal research experts, Lawyers In The Library programs where members of the public can get free individual consultations with volunteer lawyers,  citizenship workshops, housing rights classes, classes on how to handle civil lawsuits, a clinic on how to petition for a conservatorship, information on criminal process and terminology,  and a host of other programs designed to level the playing field and provide public access to legal information.

As Antonovich concluded the presentation he proudly announced “The LA Law Library’s Pro Bono Week celebration is one of the largest collaborative efforts to promote and provide pro bono services in the country.”

About LA Law Library (www.lalawlibrary.org)

LA Law Library is a vibrant community education center in Los Angeles County and a leader in providing public access to legal knowledge, putting national and international sources of law into the hands of those seeking legal information. LA Law Library serves as a gateway to legal information and a navigator facilitating access to the legal system for those who do not have or cannot afford legal representation. These critical community efforts depend on revenue from civil court filing fees as well as private donations. For additional information on the LA Law Library, please visit www.lalawlibrary.org or call 213.785.2529.

For more information, please contact:
Sandra J. Levin, Executive Director
LA Law Library
213.785.2511

Leigh A. Garcia, Communications Manager
LA Law Library
213.785.2523

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Free Consultations, Classes and Workshops Offered in Collaboration With
More Than 40 Legal and Public Service Organizations at LA Law Library.


Los Angeles, September 4, 2015 – As part of its annual Pro Bono Week celebration held October 24th to 30th, LA Law Library brings together more than 40 legal and public service organizations to provide free public assistance in one place.

The week will start off with the third annual Public Legal Services Fair on Saturday, October 24th providing direct access to legal and public service organizations. Other services offered will include free child identification kits and low cost flu shots.

LA Law Library’s calendar for Pro Bono Week is packed with free workshops, information sessions and services for the public including free legal consultations. Many topics are covered; anyone with questions such as how to obtain citizenship, how to keep kids out of foster care, how to resolve a landlord tenant dispute or how to do their own legal research, can get free help from the Library and its many legal service partners. The week also offers nine free continuing legal education classes for lawyers and members of the legal community who want to learn more about volunteer public service opportunities. It’s all part of the national celebration of Pro Bono Week.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact: 213.784.7372, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To see a complete description of the events and services you can visit: probonoweek.lalawlibrary.org.

Sponsors for Pro Bono Week include: Friends of the Los Angeles County Law Library, Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, Rite Aid, Bank of America, and Continuing Education of the Bar.

About LA Law Library (www.lalawlibrary.org)
LA Law Library is a vibrant community education center in Los Angeles County and a leader in providing public access to legal knowledge, putting national and international sources of law into the hands of those seeking legal information. LA Law Library serves as a gateway to legal information and a navigator facilitating access to the legal system for those who do not have or cannot afford legal representation. These critical community efforts depend on revenue from civil court filing fees as well as private donations. For additional information on the LA Law Library, please visit www.lalawlibrary.org or call 213.785.2529.


For more information, please contact:
Sandra J. Levin, Executive Director
LA Law Library
213.785.2515  

 

Leigh A. Garcia, Communications Coordinator
LA Law Library
213.785.2523

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