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Small Claims

Earn college credit by volunteering at a small claims court in Northern California

In December 2005, Empire College took on the advisory role for the Sonoma County Small Claims Court. The free service, mandated by the county for users of the court, is overseen by Professor Murray Cockerill and clinical director Dan Lanahan, Esq.

At Empire College, our second-, third- and fourth-year Juris Doctor students can volunteer their time or earn academic credits for 15 hours of telephone advice and five hours of in-person counseling each week at the Santa Rosa Small Claims Court. We cover a variety of California small claims court issues. Most common are landlord-tenant disputes, unfulfilled contracts, complaints about contractors and disputes among neighbors. About 50 percent of the people the student advisers talk to have already filed claims or received a summons. The rest are trying to determine whether they have a case.

Any claimant to the court, whether a resident of Sonoma County or elsewhere, can visit the clinic at the College campus Monday and Wednesday afternoons or call 707-521-6534 Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Bilingual services are offered on Monday and Thursday afternoons. For complete information regarding clinic hours and services, please visit the Small Claims Advisory page at the link below.

This program is a great way for law students to get real experience in small claims court in Sonoma County.

For additional information, visit the Small Claims Advisory page.

Contact us for more information.

Our California law school plays an advisory role for the Sonoma County Small Claims Court.

"We always advise mediation as a first recourse. A lot of times an agreement can be worked out with a simple phone call. But our students also help fill out forms, show how to name the party, have the party served with a complaint, and prepare for trial with witnesses and paperwork."
- Professor Kadin Blonski