BAY AREA LEGAL AID

Rating: 4.79 stars   19 reviews

Issues: Crime & Law

Location: 1735 Telegraph Ave Oakland CA 94612 USA

Mission: BayLegal is committed to providing equal access to the justice system and free, high quality legal assistance regardless of a client’s location, language or disability.  Access to quality legal assistance and advocacy is crucial for these individuals to understand and assert their rights to create stability for themselves and their families.  Without free civil legal services such as BayLegal’s, these members of our community have no recourse when their basic rights are violated or not being exercised.  Over 1.2 million residents* of the San Francisco Bay Area are living in poverty, and all of them are at risk for a number of destabilizing factors that plague the working poor.  These individuals and families are at high risk for lack of sufficient resources to meet basic needs like food, clothing and utilities; unfair treatment and discrimination by landlords; and lack of access to health care.  For this vulnerable population, an unwarranted eviction notice, the presence of domestic violence, wrongful termination of healthcare benefits or difficulty in overcoming barriers to employment can have devastating results. Families may lose or be denied housing, employment or vital medical treatment.  In the long run, the constant stress caused by these types of chronic problems can lead to family dysfunction and breakdown. There are often simple legal solutions to these kinds of problems, allowing these vulnerable residents to begin to move out of these desperate conditions.  However, the many burdens of a life of poverty make it extremely difficult, if not impossible in some instances, for a family to focus on a potential legal problem in order to see if it can be resolved.  In many cases, low-income families are not even aware of their legal rights.  Recent studies demonstrate the difficulty low-income residents face when trying to access legal assistance - a 2002 report by the California Commission on Access to Justice stated that 72% of all low-income Californians do not have access to a lawyer when facing a serious legal issue; and on average low-income households experience at least one civil legal need per year (Legal Services Corporation). *Residents living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Geographic areas served: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties
Programs: Bay Area Legal Aid provides free civil legal services to low-income residents of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. Legal assistance includes information and referrals, advice and brief service, legal representation, public policy development and improvement, trainings at community-based organizations, and community education and outreach. All services are provided in multiple languages and in a culturally sensitive manner. BayLegal focuses its resources on four priority areas identified by clients and the community as the most pressing needs: domestic violence prevention, affordable housing and homelessness prevention, access to health care, and economic security.  Domestic Violence Prevention: BayLegal helps victims of domestic violence navigate the various legal, housing, and income options available to them as they strive to end the violence and create a safe and stable environment for themselves and their families. We help victims with restraining orders, child and other support orders, residence exclusion orders, unwarranted evictions, and priority transfers within public housing.  Housing Preservation: BayLegal housing advocates strive to prevent homelessness and to preserve and expand affordable housing by enforcing housing laws and regulations. Clients who are victims of illegal evictions, discrimination, substandard housing, or other violations of their housing rights are represented.  Health Care Access: BayLegal helps people to enroll in and obtain services from health insurance programs for the indigent, including Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and county care programs. In addition to providing brief services and extended direct representation, BayLegal conducts education and outreach activities at community-based organizations and public policy advocacy.  Economic Security: Advocates work to secure income and support services for those who qualify for public benefits such as SSI, CalWORKs, General Assistance, Food Stamps, and In-Home Supportive Services. Cases primarily involve assisting clients in reversing unfair terminations or denials. BayLegal advocates also strive to improve the administration of these programs, thereby helping public agencies become more responsive to the community?s needs.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 2 stars  

I didn't particularly like the attitude of one of the lawyers. She seemed unfriendly & not concerned with my case. Next time, I will steer clear of Ms. Chen. She was unhelpful.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

None

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Somewhat badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a deferred Big Law associate who volunteered in the Youth Justice unit of Oakland's Bay Area Legal Aid. I had a great experience there. I worked with extremely intelligent and compassionate attorneys and staff, and I was given the opportunity to represent my own clients, and, with guidance from the staff attorneys, make decisions about how to best represent their needs. I had the opportunity to attend collaborative court and IEP meetings, which really helped my negotiation and representation skills. For law students or new attorneys looking for a wonderful legal organization to volunteer for and great legal experience, I would definitely recommend Bay Area Legal Aid!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

We are a low income family rented an apartment that was horribly infested with fleas. Our landlord refused to provide us with a clean apartment to temporarily stay while waiting for the pet control spray causing us to be homeless for nearly 2 months while still having to pay for the rent. We have come to Bay Area Legal Aid in San Jose, CA and got all the help from the staff to get justice done. My family and I would like to thank Bay Area Legal Aid Team for their support and hard work to bring a result to my case. We went to court and got a very good result. Without help from Bay Area Legal Aid, poor family like us would not stand a chance against those big corporation who do not do the right things.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

dealing with legal matters such as discriminating against people who do not have the money to pay the full amount of rent and are subsidized by the Housing Section 8 Program

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Donate money for the organization.

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Rating: 4 stars  

As a rising 1L, I had a great summer experience at Bay Area Legal Aid (San Francisco Ofc.). I never worked for a non-profit before, and didn’t know what to expect. The staff and attorneys were welcoming and easy to get along with. The law clerks that I worked with came to work on time, and treated their (9a-5p) positions as if they were getting paid by the hour. The atmosphere was professional, but comfortable enough where I felt like I could knock on any attorney’s door if I ever had a question or needed help. There were many social gatherings (both in and out of the office), and events that allowed the office to mix. Although I am not a social person, I did appreciate BayLegal’s efforts to bring everyone together.

I worked in the Legal Barriers to Employment Project (LBEP unit) and had two supervisors who were both great people and great teachers. I was expected to work independently, and handled cases from the ground up. Most of the issues that I dealt with involved revoked or suspended driver's licenses. Child support, criminal record expungements, unemployment, and housing issues also arose. I was exposed to a wide array of legal issues in the LBEP unit, which made my job both challenging and rewarding. I had a tremendous amount of client contact, and was able to work with the various courts, agencies, and programs via phone and in person on a daily basis. I also worked on an unemployment case and represented a client before the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. With the help of my supervisor, I was able to obtain a strong writing sample. I went into BayLegal knowing exactly what I wanted, and am thankful that my supervisors were willing to help me achieve my goals. I would recommend BayLegal to anyone who enjoys working hard in a supportive and collaborative working environment.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a newly licensed attorney who volunteered in the Family Law Division of San Francisco Bay Area Legal Aid. I had a great experience there. I worked with extremely intelligent and compassionate attorneys and staff, and I was given the opportunity to do a lot of legal writing and attend hearings and client visits. For law students or new attorneys looking for a wonderful legal organization to volunteer for and great legal experience beyond the usual grunt work that most firms give their interns, I would definitely recommend Bay Area Legal Aid!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing how it benefits clients in the bay area.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

not make any changes.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a law student at a local law school and I have interned at multiple non-profits in the Bay Area. However, Bay Area Legal Aid is by far the best place that I haev ever interned. At the San Francisco office interns get their own cubicle or office so we can work productively. The office staff is the nicest and most inclusive group of people ever. They also plan a lot of activities to encourage socializing among the staff and interns.
Most of all, interns meet with clients and handle entire cases on their own. That means you will have have a lot of responsibility but the work is extremely rewarding. It is really nice to learn a lot, enjoy your work environment, and be able to help those who need legal aid.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My work has resulted in some great results for this organization.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Change some of the legal service corporation restrictions that restrict the work of all Legal Aid organizations.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I'm an attorney at a firm and did a pro bono project through Bay Legal. They were absolutely great - they screen their clients and send you ones with good cases, and then provide wonderful support throughout the whole process. Thanks for a great, rewarding experience!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing the happiness and gratitude of the client I helped get a VAWA visa

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Can't think of anything.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Hi
I am student in Cal State East Bay University. Studying Health Science going as a second Bachelor degree. I am from Jordan. Going to graduate in spring 2011. I am a single mother. I have wonderful boy he is 7 years old. I came to US in 2003 with my husband, married for 5 years. I get divorce after 5 years marriage from my husband. I was alone no family and no income. I have hard time all my years’ marriage ended with domestic violent. I contact Legal Aid to get help. They contact me fast and served me with wonderful lawyer Ms "Susan E. Casey" she help me a lot doing my court paper and keep contact me by phone and she even come to my house interviewed me because at the beginning I don't know how to go to her office because my ex husband doesn't allow me to drive far away from my house. She was very nice and any time I need to talk with her or have any problems or advice she responds immediately without any complain. She is a wonderful woman. Without Legal Aid and without lawyer Casey I can't finish my divorce paper and take the custody for my son. I am now almost finishing my study I still need 2 quarter to finish to have my degree in Health Science. I am doing a volunteer work in hospital in Administration department to have some experience help me to find a job after I finish. hopefully I can find Job.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Legal Aid organization is a wonderful organization. Help a lot of single mother who need emergency help. I experienced the results of this organization in my case and how they respond fast to me without taking any reword. I herd a lot of story from couples of single women's who get help from Legal Aid and how they are very happy to communicate with this wonderful organization.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I don't have any comment to this organization they are perfect with every thing.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

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Rating: 5 stars  

I contacted Bay Area Legal Aid after I tried to find help everywhere else to no avail. It took a little time for them to be able to find someone to handle my case, but once they did I was put in touch with a wonderful and caring attorney named Susan Casey. She is handling my complicated divorce case pro-bono, as I can not afford to hire someone. My divorce was more than your typical departure of a relationship. My ex was threatening my life, as well as vandalizing my property, among other things making my daughters and my life way more difficult than necessary. I had no family in California and was still residing next door to me ex, so as you can imagine it was a volatile situation. Because of this, I was trying to move out of state with my daughter. However, everywhere I turned for help, I was basically told that he could do whatever he wanted to us, and the likelihood of me moving away with our daughter was still extremely slim. This might be a good time to mention that the courts offer all kinds of self help, in all types of situations... except move aways. So long story short Sue Casey was able to help me get moved out of state legally, while she handles my divorce case. She keeps me up-dated regularly with how things are going on my case, and handles all of the mediation so I don't have to deal with my ex. After my divorce is finalized Sue is going to help me get child support going, as I haven't received any help from my ex in about six years. This has been a life changing experience as I am now living thousands of miles away from harm and enjoying my new life. My daughter is very happy and finally doing well in school and her social life, and we owe it all to the Bay Area Legal Aid, and Susan Casey who volunteers for them.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Bay Area Legal Aid has helped me in many different ways, including legal advice, divorce help, and general support.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Bay Area Legal Aid is a wonderful non-profit organization. I would suggest no changes at this time.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

On the internet.

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

I moved away from a domestic violence situation, and was able to start my life over with my daughter in a new and safe place.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

I worked on three pro bono dissolution cases for legal aid, involving custody, child support and domestic violence. It's heart warming work if you ever starting to feel like an attorney droid, and a way to learn about an area of the law that you might not be familiar with. I was not familiar with family law prior to volunteering, but Genevieve was a great resource and was always quick to answer any of my questions. It feels great to help the clients move on with their lives, and all the clients were very appreciative.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing my clients move on with their lives after obtaining a good result.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

have the California Bar make it mandatory that attorneys use their MCLE hours volunteering at organizations like Bay Legal instead of attending workshops or taking inane online courses.

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