Two UCLA legal clinics and one from UC Irvine are part of a new nationwide network that will provide pro bono legal support for public interest journalism.

The UCLA Documentary Film Legal Clinic and UCLA Scott & Cyan Banister First Amendment Clinic along with UC Irvine’s Intellectual Property, Arts and Technology Clinic are among the members of the Free Expression Legal Network organized by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic.

“Reporters today face many obstacles in covering public officials and public issues, just as they are confronted with a dramatic resources crunch,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee and co-chair of the network’s steering committee, said Wednesday as it was unveiled.

“Law school clinics, academics, nonprofits, and funders are stepping up to meet this growing need for pro bono legal services. We are excited by the response of this community to these challenges.”

The network’s 22 law school programs provide students experience in representing journalists and documentary filmmakers and includes two dozen law professors who focus on free expression, media law and government transparency.

“FELN will allow new (programs) to lean on the expertise of more established programs, while helping members collaborate on projects and defend the constitutional rights of free speech and a free press,” said David A. Schulz, co-director of Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic and co-chair of the FELN steering committee.

“The network will strive to be an integral element in the continued protection of an informed citizenry and the free flow of information that is essential to a government accountable to the people.”

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