SDVLP's origins date back to 1980, shortly after the creation of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a quasi-governmental agency responsible for distributing federal funds to and regulating local legal aid programs. A LSC mandate that its grantees allocate a minimum of 10% of their awards to private attorney involvement activities, prompted San Diego County Bar leaders to form an Advisory Board tasked with creating an organized pro bono program that would comply with the new regulations. The Advisory Board, along with other representatives from the community, met throughout 1982 and by July of 1983, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program was incorporated. Since that time, SDVLP has developed into the region's major provider of pro bono civil legal services.

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