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Free Legal Services Provided By Student Clinics

Thomas Jefferson School of Law operates three clinics through which students provide pro bono legal services to the San Diego community. In each clinic, students earn law school credit working on client matters under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

The clinics often have waitlists and generally serve clients from San Diego County. Clients must be willing to work within the limitations of an academic calendar, which often delays the pace at which work can be completed when compared to a law firm charging market rates.

Those interested in requesting clinic services should complete a Request for Services form.

The Patent & Trademark Clinic

Independent inventors and businesses or non-profits with a patentable idea can receive assistance in prosecuting a patent application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

The Patent Clinic provides patent legal assistance in the following areas:
• Client counseling
• Invention disclosure interview
• Patentability search and opinion
• Patent application preparation
• Patent application filing (administrative fees paid by client)
• Patent application prosecution to issuance (administrative fees paid by client)
• Patent application appeals (limited)
• Patent licensing

Individuals and small business, non-profits, and organizations can also obtain Federal trademarks or service marks from the USPTO.

The Trademark Clinic provides legal assistance in the following areas:
• Client counseling
• Trademark clearance searches
• Trademark application
• Trademark prosecution
• Trademark licensing

The Patent & Trademark Clinic does not represent clients in court or before administrative boards, such as the TTAB. Additionally, the clinic cannot file international patent or trademark applications and cannot manage or administer maintenance fees for issued patents and trademarks.

To qualify for services a business or inventor seeking a patent should have a developed idea for an invention, and those seeking trademarks should have an operating business with products or services in the stream of commerce or a functioning organization, such as a community group.

All clients must have the resources to pay all USPTO fees but lack the means to hire a patent or trademark attorney to advise them. Potential clients are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the USPTO administrative fee structure for patents.

The Nonprofit & Business Law Clinic (NBLC)

Nonprofit organizations and small businesses seeking clinic services should have on-going operations or a well-developed business plan.

The NBLC provides legal assistance in the following areas:
• General business advice
• Business formation and operation
• Contract review and negotiation
• Commercial leasing
• Nonprofit tax exemption
• Independent contractor and employment issues
• Permitting and licensing

The NBLC provides a wide variety of legal assistance, but does not represent clients in court.

The Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic

Former members of the United States Military may obtain legal assistance in a variety of areas, including:
• Divorce
• Child Custody/Visitation
• Name Change
• Stepparent Adoption
• Guardianship/ Conservatorship
• Wills
• Powers of Attorney
• Discharge Upgrade
• Criminal Record Expungement
• Certificate of Rehabilitation
• Pardons

The Veteran’s Legal Assistance Clinic generally does not provide representation in on-going criminal law matters.