NEW WOMEN’S LEGAL CLINIC TO LAUNCH THIS SPRING
Inspired by her volunteer service to GenerateHope, a faith-based organization that provides long-term programs for women who have been victims of sex trafficking, Una Davis recently helped make it possible for USD’s School of Law to establish a Women’s Legal Clinic.
The clinic was established with a $1 million gift, which was arranged by Davis through an anonymous donation from a charitable estate making gifts in Southern California. Davis says that her husband, Jack McGrory ’81 (JD), who is on the School of Law’s Board of Visitors, and her son James Davis, an attorney at Casey Gerry LLP, influenced her decision.
The nonprofit clinic, expected to open during the Spring 2020 semester, will provide free legal services to victims of human trafficking, some of whom are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual exploitation. The goal is to help women in San Diego County navigate the legal system and obtain services related to divorce, custody, child support, financial exploitation, commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Through outreach events and training programs, the clinic will also raise awareness and educate the community about critical issues related to human trafficking.
“I have been so moved to witness the work of GenerateHope,” Davis says. “It brought the whole issue to light and I saw firsthand what they were doing to help women. Every life they save is precious, but there’s so much more that must be done.
“I share the excitement with the School of Law and hope that more law schools will follow,” she continues.
This will be the 11th clinic at the School of Law. Established in 1971 as a student volunteer project, the legal clinics have become a key component of the School of Law’s experiential education program. In addition to offering free legal services to the San Diego community, the legal clinics also provide law students with real-world training and serve as a foundation of ethical lawyering.
Davis said she contemplated whether the gift should fund a new lecture series or bring in a visiting professor, but ultimately decided it should be used to establish a new legal clinic based on feedback from her son, James Davis, who worked in one when he was a law student at UCLA. (The pair are pictured together, above.)
“He thought the legal clinics offered very practical experience for law students,” Davis says of her son. “He says a clinic is the best way for students to learn firsthand and it inspires them.”
Under the direction of a supervising attorney or adjunct professor, law students working in the Women’s Legal Clinic will be given the opportunity to interview clients, draft documents, prepare for and even engage in court appearances.
The need is great, especially in the San Diego region.
According to GenerateHope’s website, the national average age of children entering into the sex trade is 13 to 16 years old. San Diego is considered among the top eight, high-intensity areas for commercial sexual exploitation of children in the nation, where each year there are anywhere from 3,317 to 8,108 sex trafficking victims.
“The USD Legal Clinics are excited to expand our clinical offerings for students as we grow to 11 direct client-service legal clinics,” says Bob Muth, the academic director for the legal clinics. “Our new Women’s Legal Clinic will initially focus on serving the family law needs of survivors of human trafficking.
“Unfortunately, there is a great need in the San Diego community for such services,” Muth continues. “We are grateful that the USD Legal Clinics will be able to serve this critically vulnerable population in such a meaningful way.” — Krystn Shrieve