Litigation Attorney

Since childhood, I’ve seen the barriers that keep people from what’s rightfully theirs. Now I get to help these people fight back.

“I was born and raised near Bayview. Growing up, I was the only person in my family who was fluent in English; my parents both emigrated from southern China. I remember one time, they got a letter saying they were entitled to a rebate, but the company made it so complicated to understand that they didn’t think it was worth pursuing.

Since then, I have always communicated on behalf of them whenever we needed to fill out paperwork or deal with finances. I want to make sure that my parents and everyone else in comparable situations get what they’re entitled to, even if the system makes it hard for them.

I thought my experiences were normal until I got to college. That’s when I realized how unjust these barriers were. I decided to go to law school so I could help people like my parents.

Initially, I wasn’t interested in legal aid because it felt too small. Justice for all only works if everyone has access to it, but I didn’t think that was how legal aid organizations operated. Open Door Legal proved me wrong.

Now, I’m a litigation attorney here. I help my clients navigate small claims cases, with the hope that I am both empowering them and demystifying the legal process. Since childhood, I’ve seen the barriers that keep people from what’s rightfully theirs. Now I get to help these people fight back.”

Photography © Jona Bocari


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Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.