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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

43 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience as a volunteer has been wonderful. Everyone I've met at Legal Aid is kind, welcoming, and has a fierce passion for their mission. Every event I've volunteered at has been run very smoothly and timely. They are a great group of people to work with.

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."

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.

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County is amazing and dedicated to helping so many people in our area. The attorneys and staff of Legal Aid work tirelessly to provide opportunities for those in the community to have access to justice and quality legal services. I know this firsthand, since I worked as volunteer attorney for Legal Aid, and have continued to volunteer over the years.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked for Legal Aid for a little less than one year, but it left a lasting impression on me. Even when I moved to another organization, I have continued to volunteer with Legal Aid. I participate in the Share of Cost clinics and am a volunteer for the annual Golf Tournament. The organization works tirelessly for the residents of San Mateo County. The Share of Cost clinics, which I volunteer for, provide an opportunity to help as many individuals as possible on one afternoon. The clinics bring in individuals who are having problems with their Medi-Cal. Since all of the individuals served at these clinics are elderly, disabled, or both, if they are without Medi-Cal, that can be a death sentence. I have learned that even a small amount of time and assistance from my end can have a dramatic impact on someone's life. The clinics are a very effective vehicle for educating individuals about issues with their Medi-Cal and how to resolve problems on their own, when possible. Legal Aid always assists the individuals fully, and takes many cases per year in an effort to make sure that no one in the county goes without their basic needs (this includes the services provided in the housing clinic and other departments within Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County).

Working as a volunteer for Legal Aid provides an opportunity to give back and make a difference. The organization is filled with lawyers who work for the good of individuals who desperately need assistance.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This outstanding organization provides critical, life changing legal services to those who are in real need. Bravo.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LAS of San Mateo County provides critical legal services to the most vulnerable members of our community who otherwise could not afford or access these resources. LAS's exceptional services start with its staff and attorneys, who are caring, committed, and knowledgeable. They constantly go the extra mile without expecting anything in return. Personally and professionally, it is inspirational to see such selflessness and dedication. I can't say enough about the people that make this organization run.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved for several years in helping to support the great work done by the lawyers and staff at LAS; they are among the most caring and dedicated people I have known in the Bay Area working to ensure equal access to top quality legal services to the local community. The breadth of experience, expertise and creativity in solving legal problems is amazing given the relatively small size of the staff and the limited budget they have to work with.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The staff at Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County is absolutely wonderful. So many people have been helped and lives improved because of the work they do. The ripple effect is amazing.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a member of the luncheon and golf committees of the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County for a few years, and every year I become more amazed and in awe of what the attorneys and staff do. They help so many in our community who are disadvantaged in so many ways. And by doing so, they are helping the community at large be a better place to live. The ripple effect is enormous. And it’s done without fanfare and with very little. They are an amazing group of people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Legal Aid of San Mateo continues to be a beacon in our community, helping many underpriviledged people in our county. Their diligent staff is remarkable in their dedication and
the pro bono attorneys go above and beyond in any way they can. I have served on their fund raising committee for over 20 years and I am continually amazed not only at the support of our legal community but how hard everyone works to make this a successful event so that Legal Aid can continue their work. I am continually proud of them.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It serves such a great service in our community. We have a large number of people from all walks of life in need. Everyone that works there has a great heart for the people they help. I admire them all for their contined caring and devotion to our community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In a county replete with enormous individual and corporate wealth, San Mateo County still has a significant population who struggles with housing, domestic violence, hunger and a myriad of other issues. Legal Aid really does an amazing job of harnessing the wealth and resources of the County for good use, leveraging volunteer attorneys for direct services as well as the greater community for outreach and fundraising. No matter what your interest is, Legal Aid somehow finds a way to help people help others in truly meaningful ways. Especially as a pro bono attorney, I find their one-on-one attorney mentoring to be invaluable, as it has emboldened me to take complex cases in practice areas I wouldn't want to handle alone.