About CLM

Community Law & Mediation (CLM) is an independent community law centre and charity, working since 1975 with communities impacted by disadvantage and inequality.  

We provide free legal, mediation and education services and work in partnership with a number of organisations to provide targeted outreach services.  In 2012, we opened a second community law centre in Limerick. We operate out of two locations, Dublin and Limerick, but our services are available nationwide.  

CLM works to empower individuals experiencing disadvantage through:

  • Free legal information, advice and representation in the areas of employment law, housing and homelessness, social welfare, family law, child law and environmental justice;
  • Free mediation and conflict coaching;
  • Information, training and education; and
  • Advocating for Change

CLM’s history is closely linked with the movement for civil legal aid in Ireland. Established in Coolock in 1975, it was modelled on the American neighbourhood law centre, and its purpose initially was to serve as a prototype law centre and campaign tool in the movement for civil legal aid.  

Over the years, CLM has adapted and expanded its services in response to changing needs in the community, offering new services first in mediation, and more recently in environmental justice and children’s law.  

However, the ‘combination model’ upon which CLM was founded remains at the heart of our work: services are free of charge, making them as accessible as possible; community education – creating an awareness of rights and the law – is a critical part of our work; and a focus on law reform ensures that the issues raised in our services inform and influence change in policy and legislation.  

Our legal and mediation volunteers are the very backbone of CLM.  We would not be able to provide the level of service we provide without their generous commitment.   

A brief history of Community Law & Mediation

Our History

The purpose of Coolock Community Law Centre, when it was first established in 1975, was to serve as a prototype of the American Neighbourhood Law Centre model that could underpin a Civil Legal Aid Scheme and be rolled out across the country. It operated on a model which combined both a service based and strategic approach by providing legal information, advice and representation, while also campaigning for law reform.

Solicitor and community activist Dave Ellis played a fundamental role in the work of the law centre between 1977 and 1998, and in the development of the community law movement in Ireland.

Over the years, the organisation expanded and in 2003, the name of the organisation changed to Northside Community Law Centre to reflect the increase in catchment area from the Coolock neighbourhood to the two electoral constituencies of Dublin North Central and Dublin North East. This expansion continued with the establishment of the Mediation Service, Mediation Northside, in 2004 and, following a community consultation process, the first Community Law Centre outside Dublin, Limerick Community Law and Mediation Centre, in 2012.

With this expansion of services, the community CLM serves grew beyond the original catchment area of Coolock and now includes anyone who, because of economic, social or other disadvantage, is unable to access legal advice, representation or mediation services.

In 2014, the organisation’s name changed to Community Law & Mediation to reflect where we have come to in our 45 year journey, both in terms of the type of services we provide and also the wider group of people and organisations we provide them to.

In 2021, Mary Robinson launched our new Centre for Environmental Justice. The Centre is the first of its kind in Ireland and its objective is to empower communities experiencing disadvantage on environmental justice issues, and to advance legislative and policy change through strategic casework and law reform submissions. The Centre has been set up within CLM and its legal advice clinics, training and policy work will operate in tandem with existing services.

Our Latest Strategic Plan: 2024 – 2028.

Dave Ellis community activist
Solicitor and community activist Dave Ellis

Dave Ellis

Solicitor and community activist Dave Ellis played a fundamental role in the work of Community Law & Mediation between 1977 and 1998, and in the development of the community law movement in Ireland.

Having qualified as a solicitor in 1974, Dave worked for a community law centre in Harlesden, London, before returning to Dublin in 1977 to join Community Law & Mediation (then Coolock Community Law Centre) as the community law officer. Over the course of 20 years, he and his colleagues brought the law centre through many funding crises and campaigned on behalf of the community on issues such as family law – working with the victims of domestic violence – divorce, the position of lone parents, debt, employment, homelessness, housing, and access to social welfare.

During this period, the law centre represented the families of the Stardust victims; and took important test cases, such as McConnell vs the Eastern Health Board (1981) and The State (Hoolahan) vs Minister for Social Welfare (1986), set precedents for future cases. Dave also wrote reports on the operation of the social welfare appeals system and on civil legal aid. A committed community activist, Dave established strong links with the community in Coolock and was dedicated to achieving access to justice for all, including making the law and the legal system accessible through community education, Know Your Rights talks and information.

Dave’s commitment to social justice continues to inspire the work we do at Community Law & Mediation. We now help more than 3,000 annually through our range of services, which include free legal advice and representation; information and education; and mediation and conflict coaching. We continue to campaign for law reform, and for the safeguarding of rights already enshrined in law, in areas such as education, housing, disability rights, social protection, employment and equality.

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