Exciting Growth at Central California Legal Services in the New Year

Central California Legal Services is starting off the new year with a bang – offices opening, new MCLE offerings, and more opportunities for you to become involved.

Expanded Pro Bono Opportunities

As we increase the number of clinics, especially those held in person again, CCLS looks forward to serving greater numbers of our communities’ low‐income residents and to providing a greater array of services in 2024. Our volunteers are essential to fulfilling our mission.

For example, last month, volunteer attorneys represented CCLS clients who are survivors of domestic violence and obtained permanent restraining orders for them. The clients included a young woman who is autistic and found it extremely challenging to navigate the court system and speak in court. Another woman’s young child was a witness to domestic violence episodes. Without a lawyer, mother and child could have been unnecessarily re-traumatized by the court proceedings.

In another case, a CCLS public benefits client believed she had a right to a portion of her former husband’s pension, which would reduce her need for public benefits. A CCLS pro bono attorney obtained her rightful share of the pension for her.

A stalwart of CCLS’ Workers’ Rights Clinic, attorney Charles Taylor, Law Offices of Charles Trudrung Taylor, describes his pro bono experiences at CCLS.

“CCLS has been very important to me in fulfilling the obligation I feel to contribute to equal access to justice in the community in which I live. My contributions to helping to start the Workers’ Rights Clinic with my former partner and now Ninth Circuit Justice Ana de Alba, CCLS, Legal Aid at Work, and the Mexican Consulate were particularly meaningful in meeting that obligation. I have actively participated in virtually every clinic since its inception

and look forward to continuing.”

Taylor also provides pro bono services to clients of CCLS’ Affirmative Litigation team, where he assists on solar panel fraud cases. He says that through this work, he has seen “how there are many unscrupulous businesses that are eager to take advantage of consumers who do not have the means to fight back.” Volunteering to represent these consumers brings him professional and personal satisfaction. That is music to the ears of Michelle Kezirian, CCLS Executive Director. “At CCLS, we love working with our pro bono volunteers. We know that they derive great satisfaction from their pro bono work and that they provide critical services to the underserved. We encourage all members of the FCBA to volunteer with CCLS. We have a place for everyone.”

In 2024, CCLS is offering an expanded array of clinics and outreach opportunities for pro bono lawyers, described in last month’s Bar Bulletin. Some particular areas of need are for pro bono attorneys:

  • To volunteer for our monthly virtual Workers’ Rights Clinic;
  • To represent widows and widowers in Spousal Property Petitions;
  • To represent domestic violence survivors seeing permanent restraining orders; and
  • To represent clients seeking to establish a guardianship.


Upcoming MCLE Events

 Whether you can volunteer in the near future or not, we invite you to join us at our MCLE events. We are kicking off 2024 with the following line‐up:

  • Legal Services in Cross‐Cultural Contexts: In‐Person February 23
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: In‐Person April (date TBD)

Please feel free to email or call me for information on any of these trainings.

Offices Reopening

Our main office in Fresno has been open to the public for quite some time. Our Visalia office reopened for public walk‐ins in November. And we are thrilled to announce that a renovation in the building where our Merced office is located has been completed, so that office will soon be open fully to the public again. We are planning Open Houses in both Merced and Los Banos in 2024.


We appreciate the support of all our volunteers. I look forward to hearing from you to discuss any of our opportunities. Sjoost@centralcallegal.org (559) 570‐1274.

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