First licensed in 1974 to grant law degrees, the People’s College of Law (PCL) was founded by a group of leftist legal organizations, among which were the Asian Law Collective, the La Raza National Lawyers Association, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the National Lawyers Guild.
“PCL was created to bring legal resources to under-represented communities and train legal advocates who will secure progressive social change and justice in society,” says the PCL website. “If you are not comfortable advocating for the working class, the poor, the disabled, the incarcerated, minority groups, women, immigrants, environmentalists, anti-war activists, or the gay community (just to name a few), PCL is not the place for you.”
Notwithstanding its disdain for individuals with economic and political power, PCL boasts that many of its graduates hold influential positions in a variety of government offices such as the California Workers Compensation Appeals Board, Los Angeles Superior Court, legal aid societies, labor unions including the United Farm Workers and Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, and many other places.
One PCL graduate is Democratic California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo, the state legislature’s leading advocate for providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. When asked why he favored allowing illegal aliens to remain in the United States, Cedillo replied: “They were here first.” In a 2005 interview, Senator Cedillo described his time at the PCL as, in the interviewer’s words, “an experiment in liberalism.” His role models, said Cedillo, were all “agitational attorneys” in whose footsteps he was eager to follow.
Another graduate of the People’s College of Law is the Democrat Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. After receiving a law degree from PCL, Villaraigosa failed four times to pass the California Bar Examination and never became a practicing attorney. As a student at UCLA, Villaraigosa headed the campus chapter of the radical student organization MEChA.
A third People’s College of Law alumnus is radical activist Jeff Cohen, who went on to serve as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, founded the “media watchdog” organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), and became a commentator at both Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
Forthright about being a militant academy to train and arm lawyer warriors for political and legal class warfare, PCL requires applicants for admission to submit evidence of their political activism to “demonstrate a commitment to progressive social change.” It does not, however, require applicants to have earned an undergraduate college degree.
PCL is not accredited by the American Bar Association nor by the State Bar of California.