Benchmark Institute is a training and performance development organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of legal services to low-income communities.
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Board of Directors



Training & Organization Development




Benchmark Institute provides ongoing education to the public interest community through its Core Programs in Legal Skills (Client, Lawyer, Legal Secretary/Assistant, Paralegal) and Leadership. In partnership with substantive law experts, Benchmark delivers substantive law workshops in family law, housing and public benefits.

Benchmark also provides consulting services and training on organizational development issues including governing boards, management, strategic planning and diversity. Our Justice and Diversity Training Series features customized trainings for Advocates, Judges, Law Students, Leaders, and Organizations.

Founded in 1989, Benchmark is the only institution in the United States whose mission focuses solely on training and development for the entire public interest legal community. To date, Benchmark has served over 10,000 people and hundreds of legal services and public interest organizations in the United States and abroad.



Benchmark Institute is an educational institution which develops and delivers training to public interest lawyers, paralegals, clients and other service providers whose work requires legal knowledge. Benchmark is dedicated to empowering people through excellence in innovative education, training and development.

We are committed to:

making a difference in the quality and quantity of services in the public interest community

fostering change to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse

building a community that values caring, competence and


Board of Directors

Joyce Alexander
San Francisco, CA

Mary J. Lines
Colorado Springs, CO

Silvia Martinez

Los Angeles, CA

Adelia Lines, 1944-2000


Rosemary French, President, practiced law with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and taught at Loyola Law School before turning to training as a fulltime career. She worked in the Legal Services Corporation, Office of Program Support in the late 1970's designing, developing and providing training to legal services people across the country. She served as director of the Western Center on Law & Poverty Regional Training Center for three years before founding Benchmark Institute in 1989.

Marie Contreras, Vice President, held supervisory and management positions in local government for over twenty years. A Benchmark founder, she has shared her management expertise with nonprofit organizations for several years doing training and facilitating program-wide retreats. She has extensive experience in developing teams through training and in the workplace. She has worked with boards of directors, commissions and numerous community groups.


Culturally diverse faculties are drawn from legal services and public interest law firms across the country. Faculty members combine subject matter expertise and expert advocacy or leadership skills with outstanding teaching ability. Powerful role models during the training, many continue their relationships with participants serving as mentors and resources.

Training and Organizational Development Services

Benchmark Institute provides Core Skills Programs in Legal Skills and Leadership, Substantive Law Training and Organizational Development Consulting.

Core Skills Programs: Legal Skills and Leadership

The Core Skill Programs are rooted in the idea that people must have certain skills and knowledge to be competent in their work. The Core Programs provide a basic training plan for achieving an acceptable level of competence.  

Substantive Law Training

In partnership with substantive law experts, Benchmark has designed substantive law training in Family, Housing and Public Benefits. These trainings are the beginning of Core Programs in these substantive areas.

Organizational Development Services

Public interest organizations that put their values into action with their own staff very likely provide quality client service as well. Benchmark believes that helping these organizations become proficient in leadership and interpersonal skills also helps improve service to clients.

Toward that end, we provide consulting services that strengthen the organization. These services include training design and facilitation in areas such as communication, team building, valuing diversity, and strategic planning. We also facilitate retreats for governing boards and staff.