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XUCLA is established as a Legal Aid Center in Mindanao, based at Xavier University - College of Law, serving the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised sectors such as, among others women, children, labor, farmers and peasants, indigenous peoples and communities, fisher folks and dependent to coastal and marine resources.

It was organized on 6 July 1996 as a replication of the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) of the Ateneo de Manila University. Initially, it was supported by the PRODEM Misamis Oriental, a Project of a Consortium of NGOs, such as the Ayala Foundation and the Association of Foundation for the “promotion of democracy and justice in Misamis Oriental”.  Law students considered as the pioneer members were immersed to various Human Rights issues by regularly conducting community visits, human rights seminars, legal assistance and outreach activities to the three pilot municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva and Balingasag.   

A year after its inception, sometime during the first semester of school year 1997-1998, it was recognized as a Legal Aid institution by then, Dean Romulo V. Borja of Xavier University College of Law.  Through the valuable support of the Dean, now Honorable Mr. Justice Borja, XUCLA had its first physical office, a small room at the College of Law, and its first Executive Director, the dynamic Atty. Ma. Corazon B. Gaite-Llanderal, now the Honorable Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court, Branch 41. 

Years thereafter, it gradually developed its own programs, namely, the FORMATION, LEGAL AID and ADVOCACY.  Its Formation Program has formed law students serving the poor and marginalized through its regular Summer Internship Program.  The Legal Aid program has catered several indigent individuals and communities struggling to have free legal assistance and court representations.  And, the Advocacy program is defining its purpose through networking with the women’s rights group in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental as well as the Alternative Law Group, Inc., a consortium of non-governmental organizations serving the disenfranchised sectors all over the Philippines.

XUCLA continues its existence with the guiding principle, “Those who have less in life should have more in law.”

Today, it is one of the units under the Research and Social Outreach (RSO) cluster of the University. While it continues to exist by working towards a just, sustainable and humane society and to raise the level of legal consciousness for the improvement of the human rights situation in Northern Mindanao and its surrounding areas especially the disadvantaged sectors, it has given a new mandate by the University as its Legal and Policy Research and Advocacy institution, as well as the Intellectual Property.