The Public Interest Clearinghouse’s Pro Bono Project completed its third successful Rural Education & Access to the Law (REAL) Trip on October 26 and 27, 2007. In collaboration with Tehama & Butte County Superior Court's Self Help Assistance and Referral Program (SHARP), PIC’s Pro Bono Project held a two-day REAL trip for law students in Red Bluff and Oroville, California.
Twelve law students assisted 65 pro per litigants in legal workshops which included guardianships, small claims, custody & paternity, dissolution, and restraining orders under the supervision of SHARP program staff.
PIC will continue to work to foster this type of bridge between future lawyers and some of the most under-resourced areas in California. The lack of legal resources for low-income rural Californians is alarming. According to an April 2007 report by the California Commission on Access to Justice, over 1.8 million Californians live in rural areas within 18 different counties. The 2000 Census revealed that rural counties with poverty rates above the national average outnumber urban counties at nearly a 5 to 1 ratio. In addition, California's rural legal services organizations receive fewer funding dollars per low-income individual than organizations serving urban populations. The diversity of needs within rural communities further exacerbates the problem. While these statistics and descriptions are staggering, the REAL Project directly addresses the urgent need in rural California.