Bay Area Legal Aid *

Bay Area Legal Aid (Oakland)

Organization Description:


Bay Area Legal Aid's (BayLegal) mission is to provide high quality legal assistance regardless of a client's location, language, or disability.  We are the largest provider of free civil legal services to low-income residents of the San Francisco Bay Area with regional offices in seven counties.  Our services include advice, referrals, limited scope assistance, extended representation, public policy and impact advocacy, trainings and community education.  From the Napa Valley to Silicon Valley, BayLegal ensures fairness in the civil justice system for the most vulnerable members of our community.  We help our clients protect their livelihoods, their health and their families.  BayLegal's 100+ staff members provide wraparound legal services in the priority areas identified by clients and the community as their most pressing areas of need:

*  Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention:  Assisting survivors escape violence and create safe and stable environments for themselves and their families through Family Law, Restraining Order, and Immigration assistance.

*  Housing Preservation:  Helping clients access and preserve safe affordable housing free of discrimination, with specific focus on Eviction Defense and Fair Housing.

*  Consumer Protection: Assisting clients obtain economic self-sufficiency and avoid predatory lending and abusive collection practices.

*  Access to Health Care:  Helping clients to obtain and navigate essential health care services.

*  Economic Security:  Eliminating barriers to employment self-sufficiency by assisting clients secure public benefits to stabilize their lives.

Limited Scope Pro Bono Opportunities

(For all pro bono cases, experienced Bay Area Legal Aid staff screen clients for eligibility and merit, determine if the case is appropriate for pro bono representation, and provide training and ongoing mentorship (including manuals and sample pleadings.).


Debtors' Rights Clinics - With Bay Legal's training, volunteers assist with preparing answers and asserting defenses to third party debt collection (junk debt buyer) lawsuits; protect exempt income from garnishment; prepare discovery; and stop debt collection harassment.  Estimated time: 3-4 hours per clinic

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinics - Volunteers assist self-represented domestic violence survivors complete the paperwork and understand the process to request and obtain a restraining order with important custody, visitation and support orders.  Estimate time: 4 hours per clinic

Housing Law Clinics - BayLegal staff and volunteers assist low-income self-represented litigants in eviction matters complete their paperwork and understand the process.  Estimated time: 2-3 hours per clinic

Limited Scope Representation of Domestic Violence Survivors - Volunteer attorneys provide limited scope representation (approximately 1 or 2 hearings) for survivors seeking permanent restraining orders and important child custody, visitation and support orders.  Volunteers receive training, a practice manual, sample pleadings and ongoing mentorship.  Live trainings are conducted annual and free webinars are available.  Estimated time: 25 hours

Family Law Pro Bono Advocacy Program - Volunteer attorneys assist low-income family law litigants with limited and/or full scope representation in obtaining essential family law orders, including dissolution, parentage, child custody/visitation and support. Live trainings are conducted annual and free webinars are available.

Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Violent Crime - VAWA Self-Petitions and U Visa Non-Immigrant Petitions are means to immigration relief for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and other Violent Crimes whose abusive family members are US Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents OR who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crimes.  With BayLegal's training and ongoing mentorship, volunteer attorneys have the opportunity to work with clients to: (1) Elicit facts related to the abuse suffered and help prepare the client's declaration; (2) Prepare immigration petitions and related forms; (3) Collect supporting evidence and documents; (4) Understand the broader immigration petition process; and (5) Obtain work authorization and benefits vital to those fleeing and recovering from abuse.

Veterans Project - BayLegal is committed to providing wraparound services to veterans in our community.  The Veterans Project provides legal services to qualified veterans in myriad issues, including veterans' benefits, discharge upgrades, welfare and disability benefits, housing preservation, consumer issues, and health care access.  Volunteers co-counsel with BayLegal staff specifically on advocating for discharge upgrades to ensure access to benefits through the Veterans Administration.

Youth Justice Project - BayLegal is dedicated to assisting disabled and at-risk youth with a full range of civil legal services needed to provide stability and educational opportunities to get on the right track - including obtaining public benefits to access physical and mental health services, stabilizing their housing through consistent economic support and accessing special education services.  Volunteers can play an integral role with: (1) Educational advocacy (school enrollment, appropriate special education services, including IEPs); (2) Child Advocate - help youth navigate the system and have a voice throughout the system and in Court; (3) Guardianship representation to stabilize long-term living situation; and/or (4) Government Benefits Advocacy - assist with obtaining needed financial and health benefits (e.g., Foster Care Benefits)




  • County(s) of Volunteer Opportunity: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara
  • Area of law: Disability, Education, Family & Juvenile, Foreclosure, Health, Homeless, Housing, Immigration & Naturalization, Public Benefits
  • Populations Served: Children, Communities of Color, Domestic Violence Victims, Elderly, Immigrants, Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender, Low Income, Native Americans, Persons with Disabilities, Women, Working poor and unemployed
  • Opportunities For: Interpreters, Law school clinic, Law Students, Lawyers, Mentors, Mentors/consultants, Nonlitigation Projects, Paralegals, Senior Lawyers
  • Need for non-English services: BayLegal welcomes volunteers who are willing to help serve non-English speaking clients either by providing direct services to clients or assisting with interpretation/translation.
  • Hours for Pro Bono Opportunities: Flexible, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, (limited evening opportunities)
  • Malpractice insurance is provided for volunteers: Yes
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Training Required: No
  • CLE credit for trainings: Yes
  • CLE credit for pro bono: No
  • Mentoring or supervision offered: Yes
  • Volunteer lawyers need to meet a caseload or hours requirement: No
  • Volunteers may participate long-distance: No
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