ODL Board Member

The ability to pay should not be what decides whether the law can work for you or not. 

“What draws me to pro bono work is the ability to make an impact in people’s lives. I think it’s important to bring our legal skills and platform from a law firm like Wilson Sonsini to help those who otherwise don’t have access to legal services. I want to level the playing field.

I have been familiar with Open Door Legal’s work since its inception. Early in my career when I built my own practice, I was looking for opportunities to contribute to the community and provide legal services beyond the day-to-day work of my law firm. Partnering with Open Door Legal was a no-brainer. 

I’ve worked on landlord/tenant cases with Open Door Legal. We have partnered with the organization to represent several tenants in disputes against their landlords, and we’ve been able to use our platform to file lawsuits on their behalf. These are situations where tenants in San Francisco have dealt with habitability issues and harassment from their landlords. We’ve been able to use the law to remediate those issues and help those clients get compensated for the harm they suffer. In many cases, clients are able to put themselves in a better living environment after their case is resolved. 

I strongly believe in the organization’s mission of providing civil justice to individuals who otherwise can’t afford legal services, and that the ability to pay should not be what decides whether the law can work for you or not.” 


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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.