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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services

Mission: The mission of the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County is to fight social injustice through civil legal advocacy for people living in poverty. The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County’s vision is for every person to have the basic necessities of life, including safe affordable housing, access to health care, economic security, secure immigration status, an appropriate education and freedom from violence and abuse. We strive to empower people to overcome the causes and effects of poverty so they can participate in their community with dignity and respect. We seek to remove barriers related to poverty, disability, race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status through community education, legal representation, systemic advocacy and collaboration with community partners.

Results: Since our founding hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and low income families have been able to stay in affordable homes and/or overcome food insecurity; children have been able to access health care coverage and medical care; adult, teen and senior survivors of domestic violence and elder abuse have been able to stabilize their lives and live in safety.

Target demographics: fight social injustice for people living in poverty

Direct beneficiaries per year: 2309 clients from 7/1/2016-6/30/2017

Geographic areas served: San Mateo County

Programs: legal advice, representation and education

Community Stories

65 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Legal Aid is a godsend for San Mateo County. Most of my clients at North East Medical Services in Daly City live in poverty. They are also one of the most vulnerable populations who often need legal help. Without Legal Aid Society, they would not have the ability to fight social injustice such as income, housing, education, and gender inequalities. In addition, workers at Legal Aid Society are professional and diligent people who care about their clients. We need more nonprofits like that! Thank you!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a great with Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. It was my first time volunteering at the housing clinic, and I was able to jump right in with a more experienced attorney and begin conducting client interviews. The training materials provided me with a number of ways to address client questions. For any questions that we were stuck on, the supervisor was available on site for us to ask for help. Overall, a tremendously rewarding experience that touches on many different areas of law.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've worked with Legal Aid on a number of domestic violence restraining order applications and they have an amazing team! The work they do on behalf of the community is very important and ensures that cost is not a barrier to legal representation for those who need it the most. I would highly recommend to other attorneys interested in developing a pro bono practice to work with this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an attorney who volunteered to do some pro bono work I found through the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. It was a great experience! The staff there was very supportive and well-organized. They provided me with all the help I needed to win a great result for our client in a tricky guardianship matter, even though the case was outside my normal practice area. I look forward to working with the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County again in the future!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My involvement as a volunteer at the Legal Aid Society's housing clinic has been rewarding - both in terms of hands-on experience and the satisfaction of making a difference. A really friendly bunch of people who are easy to work with.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County has made it so easy for me to help out people who are in real distress. They help the most vulnerable in our society. I've volunteered with them many times to represent victims of domestic violence in court so they can get a restraining order against the perpetrators. Without the Legal Aid Society, these folks would be left on their own to deal with a confusing and overwhelming situation. The Legal Aid Society has saved so many lives over the years. I can't think of a better organization to volunteer for.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came across Legal Aid in San Mateo County as I looked for an agency that was working on national issues but on a local level. The staff is embarrassingly effusive in giving thanks for the smallest assistance. I am particularly drawn to the immigration issue but the agency does important work (and not just legal) for people living in poverty in my home county. The tagline says it all for me, "Fighting social injustice through civil legal advocacy for people living in poverty."

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Legal Aid Society of San Mateo staff are very responsive to the needs of our community. Their staff are very talented in ensuring people (children, adults, seniors) receive the benefits they are entitled to. I have worked with them to ensure children receive the medical care, educational and transportation services they need. They help advocate for safe, affordable housing. They recruit and train pro-bono attorneys who are amazing as well. I appreciate the passion of the staff and pro-bono attorneys to serve our community, thereby, creating brighter futures for many people.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I believe that LASSMC is the premier legal services organization providing representation for disadvantaged residents of the county. As a practicing attorney for the last 16 years in the county, I have been involved in numerous pro bono cases, and my law firm supports a number of legal non-profits in the area. LASSMC stands out as a highly-focused, well-managed, and powerfully effective pro bono organization. Its attorneys possess credentials and experience that would rank them among the most elite in the private sector, yet they devote themselves to the pursuit of public, rather than private, good. Its superstar attorneys are backed by top-notch executive management with deep experience and decades of proven effectiveness. The organization has developed and successfully maintained broad and deep support within the local legal community and related fields. By virtue of these many strengths, LASSMC continues year after year to expand its track record of expanding access to justice among all of our neighbors in San Mateo County. Its mission yields practical results, and improved lives, for its many needy clients.

Donor

Rating: 5

I participated in the Legal Aid Golf Classic in June and had an amazing time. It was well organized, great course, great food, great prizes, and the staff were very appreciative. I was fortunate enough to be able to play golf while also raise money for this great organization that really makes a difference. Hope to see more out there on the golf course next year!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm proud to be on the board of LASSMC. They have a fantastic staff and do terrific work in the community.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

I am thrilled to support San Mateo Legal Aid for the terrific work they do to help families in our community obtain the health care and other services to which they are entitled, and protect them from eviction or unsafe living conditions.

Former staff

Rating: 5

The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County ("LASSMC") is a crucial player in the multitude of systems that affect individual's legal rights- be it housing, health care, disability, social security, immigration, or the courts, providing no cost representation and advice to those who might not otherwise have the ability to access such information. As an organization, they help the most vulnerable populations in San Mateo county, but as individuals they do so with a heartfelt passion that creates a safe, caring, and compassionate environment for those populations to truly feel empowered. LASSMC fights for systemic change through policy work (local, state, and nationally) and community involvement, allowing their efforts to have far wider consequences than just helping those that come to their door. Without LASSMC, each year thousands would never have their voices heard.

Every volunteer joins a supportive and knowledgeable team, and every amount of assistance, regardless of size, is supporting and working for those in the community in need of dire assistance. Please consider volunteering or donating today! Be the change.

Donor

Rating: 5

In the legal field, the plight of the most disadvantaged among us has perhaps never been so in focus. Laws are constantly being passed to help protect those most at risk-- children, elderly, low income -- yet the cost to access our legal system to protect those rights has never been greater. The San Mateo Legal Aid Society serves an increasingly important role in helping those who need it most understand and assert their rights. They do an outstanding job of reaching out to the legal community to garner its involvement in providing needed access to legal representation. A very worthy nonprofit that serves the community well and deserves broad support.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Legal Aid of San Mateo County is an amazing organization. I have worked with them for the past 3 years as a pro bono attorney and the experience has been one of the most rewarding of my life.

Prior to working with Legal Aid I had very little courtroom experience and my job as a corporate counsel was in stark contrast to the work at Legal Aid. Legal Aid provided mentoring and training so that I could advocate for survivors of domestic violence in court. The work has become a passion of mine and gives me the opportunity to empower survivors to find a safe environment free of violence.

The staff at Legal Aid are tremendous and really great to work with. They are some of my biggest supporters and have even nominated me for a pro bono award with the California Bar. I can't imagine another organization working so hard for it's clients and volunteers. They are truly amazing!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SMLA has terrific training materials and is there to advise its volunteers along the way. They are excellent advisors and make sure that they have services available to the community. They care deeply about their clients.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have the extreme honor and privilege of working with Legal Aid of San Mateo County. I was lucky to run into Pro Bono Director Janet Seldon at a local bar association function and begin working with this group.

The efficiency of the organization is incredible. The commitment, both personally and professionally, of every single staff member of LAS of SMC is inspiring. I started my career wanting only to be a prosecutor, thinking that was the best way to help the aggrieved and vulnerable members of society. I was wrong. I learned after some time prosecuting, that working for the government limited my ability to interact with clients and help effectuate meaningful change. I worked in family law for nearly two years before connecting with Janet. My life has not been the same since starting to work with this group of exceptional humans.

Legal Aid of San Mateo County offers the support and advocacy needed by the most underrepresented persons in our community. While having a discussion with Marci, Janet and a fellow volunteer, we talked about the victims of domestic violence as being those who "have the least and need the most." Violence in one's home is one of the scariest situations a person can be in. Their partner typically controls their finances, their immigration status, they monitor their actions, communications and often isolate their spouse from the community. Those who find the courage to leave and find their way to Legal Aid of San Mateo County know they have found a safe place to help them escape the cycle of violence.

Part of the joy I get from my volunteer work with Legal Aid of San Mateo County is my relationships with the staff. I love meeting clients at the Legal Aid Office. I always arrive before or stay after a client meeting so I can spend time speaking with the team members. It is always an honor and I am humbled by the privilege of working with this organization. In the area of Family Law, especially working with domestic violence victims and their families, one can lose faith in humanity rapidly. The success stories from clients and the integrity and compassion of the team renew my faith in the innate goodness of people who care for others in their community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County is a great nonprofit. They really try to help make the community better. Every individual that I have interacted with at Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County has been wonderful and committed to its cause. I am proud to have been pro-bono counsel for clients they identified and to have done a small part to further their mission.

Michele124

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've worked with Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County over the past 5 years. Through my firm's relationship with Legal Aid Society, I've been able to take on interesting cases that gave me experience that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. The attorneys at Legal Aid Society have been really helpful to me in navigating the legal claims I've looked into and are so committed to helping out the community. Whether through their community outreach, interfacing with private attorneys or events, Legal Aid Society has provided so much value to the community here and I'm very proud to be able to be part of that.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SM Legal Aid was instrumental in assisting my mother with a Landlord/Tenant issue. They helped her understand her rights and advocate for herself. They are leaders and zealous advocates.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a real estate atty in San Mateo Co. Their staff does a great job in protecting the rights of elderly and low income tenants without infringing on the rights of the many individual landlords with small rental properties in the area.