Bay Area Legal Aid

Rating: 4.79 stars   19 reviews


1735 Telegraph Ave Oakland CA 94612 USA


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


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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Reviews for Bay Area Legal Aid

Rating: 5 stars  

32 people found this review helpful

I serve as the pro bono coordinator for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, a large international law firm with offices in San Francisco and Menlo Park. Over the past two and a half years, I have worked with Bay Area Legal Aid ("BALA") to identify and place pro bono cases with our attorneys. BALA is an outstanding referral source for our pro bono attorneys because they consistently provide us with sophisticated, cutting edge cases that are of strong interest to our attorneys. In addition, they serve clients who are most in need in areas of law, such as family law and immigration, which are often difficult to place at a law firm. BALA's screening and mentoring are all first-rate. In addition, BALA has an outstanding pro bono coordinator who is incredibly responsive, understands the need of law firms, and provides great feedback, mentoring and support to us. Overall, I believe BALA is one of the finest legal services providers with which we work anywhere in the country.

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

providing excellent pro bono cases to our attorneys, and follow up through outstanding mentoring and support.

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

continue as is and attempt to get more funding to expand the pro bono program.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the responsiveness and first-rate cases they have offered us.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

all very dedicated and diligent.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

go a long way to meeting the needs of the large number of poor persons who have no access to attorneys for their civil law problems.

Ways to make it better...

Not possible!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...


One thing I'd also say is that...

An excellent organization that is run smartly and leanly.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

30 people found this review helpful

As an attorney, I have done significant pro bono work in conjunction with Bay Area Legal Aid in the area of immigration law and domestic violence. The Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys with whom I have worked are fantastic, committed professionals who have far exceeded my expectations. Their commitment to the communities they serve is remarkable, and I very much appreciate their efforts to reach out to attorneys in the private sector in order to assist us all in fulfilling our commitment to the communities in which we live and work. Thank you!

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

the ways it has changed the lives of so many people in need.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the satisfaction of having made a tangible contribution to the community.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

warm, committed, and brilliant.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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