Gary Blasi joined the UCLA faculty in 1991 with a distinguished 20-year record of public interest practice. He teaches clinical and public interest lawyering courses, including Fact Investigation in Complex Matters and Clinical Seminar in Public Policy Advocacy. He is one of the founding and core faculty of the law school's unique David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. He practices, teaches, conducts research and writes about advocacy on behalf of children in substandard schools, homeless families and individuals, low income tenants, low wage workers, veterans, and victims of discrimination. He has received numerous awards for distinction in the field of public interest law and for providing legal services to the poor. In 2007, he was named one of the top 100 lawyers in California, cited as the "go-to lawyer for community groups in need of advice." In 2013, he received the California State Bar’s Loren Miller Legal Services Award, given to one lawyer in California each year for his or her work in extending legal services to the poor.
Professor Blasi's research draws on cognitive science and social psychology to better understand how lawyers acquire expertise, how people understand the causes of problems like homelessness or poverty, how advocates can best deal with the consequences of racial and other stereotypes, and how large bureaucracies can better respond to the needs of poor people and people living with disabilities. He has also served as Director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, which supports research and education on issues critical to working people, taught at Stanford and lectured at universities in England, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong and China.
Professor Blasi became a lawyer without attending law school. After graduate study at Harvard, where he was a Graduate Prize Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Professor Blasi served as a legal apprentice in a community law office in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he also began his practice. In 1978, he joined the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where he coordinated advocacy including complex litigation in the areas of housing, welfare, homelessness, and redevelopment.
Professor Blasi took emeritus status in 2012, but continues to teach one semester each year and maintains an active pro bono practice, working with community groups and in collaboration with the leading public interest and pro bono law firms in California. He is Special Counsel to the Opportunity Under Law Initiative at the Public Counsel Law Center and Of Counsel at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.