Legal Education


ACCESO is an acronym for “Abogados Creativos Colaborando para Encontrar Soluciones Optimas” (“Creative Lawyers Collaborating to Find Optimal Solutions”).

Proyecto ACCESO is the rule of law skills training and public education program headquartered at California Western School of Law in San Diego.


Founded in 1998, Proyecto ACCESO has trained thousands of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, justice ministry officials, legal academicians, private lawyers, law enforcement agents, and community leaders in North, Central, and South America.  ACCESO is a Spanish acronym for “Abogados Creativos Colaborando para Encontrar Soluciones Optimas” (“Creative Lawyers Collaborating to Find Optimal Solutions”).


Proyecto ACCESO develops curricula, facilitates skills building workshops, and trains legal professionals around the Americas. Working with local agencies, we create judicial innovations like oral trial training, DNA evidence, diversion and alternative sentencing regimes, computer forensics, indigenous problem-solving techniques, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to promote sustainable reforms.  Proyecto ACCESO also creates, produces and distributes public education campaigns, popular music, documentary films, and children’s television programs to educate the general public about their rights and increase confidence in the administration of justice. 


Proyecto ACCESO has been funded by and partnered with such diverse stakeholders as the Avery-Tsui Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Organization of American States, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Inter-American Development Bank, the German Government Technical Cooperation Agency (GIZ), Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the United States Departments of Justice and State, U.S. Agency for International Development, various Latin American justice ministries, think tanks, universities, and national bar associations.


Too often, the law is viewed as an inaccessible code for the elite, rather than a set of principles and practices that weave together a stronger democratic society and provide for justice.  If the benefits of globalization are to be maximized, we must build the rule of law in a language that people understand.


Rather than the one-size-fits-all solution espoused by others, Proyecto ACCESO embraces, and has been embedded in, local cultures, utilizing best practices, traditional methods of problem-solving, and indigenous mechanisms built from within, rather than imposed from outside. 

The ACCESO team has been committed to using the language of the streets, the common vernacular and local customs. For these reasons, over the last decade our work has been in tandem with civil society groups, state institutions, and the academy to promote meaningful reform and fairer and more equitable administration of justice.


Focus on Problem-Solving


Criminal procedure, particularly the inquisitorial system found throughout Latin America, has often been the first set of laws to be reformed in a post-dictatorship period.  Oftentimes, the criminal law was the way in which freedoms like that of association, or speech, were repressed.

So it was no surprise that most Latin American countries emerging from military regimes focused on the reform of their respective criminal laws after the first set of free and fair elections.  After criminal procedure comes other reforms: reforms involving police training and promotion, prison reform, family law and labor law reform, and eventually civil procedure reform. 

Legal reforms should be more than just the wholesale transplantation of legal innovations or practices (for example Napoleonic codes from France, via Spain, or U.S.-inspired insider trading regulations) from a donor country to a recipient country.  Legal reforms require the transfer of technology, culture, institutional know-how, jurisprudence, case management, and court procedures.  In addition, local conditions, indigenous traditions, and regional context are all essential factors to consider in the adoption of legal models from abroad. 

For two decades, Proyecto ACCESO has been introducing problem-solving techniques in the process of legal reform.  We have introduced and facilitated a number of problem-solving courts like teen or peer court, community court, drug treatment courts and other diversion and alternative sentencing programs that reduce recidivism and criminality into Latin America.  We have also assisted in the development of indigenous justice systems and their integration into the legal reform process. 

Chile Summer Program 2018

The Chile Summer Program is provides students with a remarkable opportunity to study international law in an international setting, in a country that emerged from decades of authoritarian rule to become one of the most successful examples of democratization in the world. The program places students in the heart of Latin America's quest for justice and the struggle over globalization. 

With classes held in the most beautiful part of the modern and thriving city of Santiago, students will complement their classroom experience with the cultural experience of a great South American capital. Veterans of this program consistently indicate that the experience exceeded their expectations and truly transformed their understanding of the international legal system and the broader social, political, and economic character of our shared hemisphere. Whether it is security policy, accountability for serious violations of international law, legal reforms, or economic development, Chile has long been a leader in Latin America. 

Workshops and site visits will introduce students to new trends in social justice and the role that expanding free trade has played in Latin America. Courses in international and comparative law provide frameworks for understanding the globalization of law and legal practice in the laboratory that Santiago and its environs provide. Every student will have the opportunity to develop or improve Spanish laguage skill. 

Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru are nearby and there are excellent ski resorts, thermal baths, wineries, coastal getaways, and top-end hiking treks within a ninety-minute drive from Santiago. 


More information here