If you are reading this post then you have heard the good news: we’ve been selected as a *top ten finalist* in the 2015 Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area!

This is not only an incredible opportunity for Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal, but it is also momentous for legal aid and access to justice for our most vulnerable neighbors. Right now, there are millions and millions of families facing preventable economic devastation, displacement, and violence–simply because they cannot afford a trained advocate, such as an attorney, to help them enforce their civil rights.

We’ve imagined, tested, and executed a model that can change this for millions of families–and we started it all here in the Bay. And now that are our neighborhood-based universal access model–which guarantees legal representation in all areas of law– has been recognized as one of the most innovative ideas in the Bay Area, AND will be fluttering about in new conversations and compassionate minds is beyond thrilling.

We know we’re working on something really BIG, and that universal access to legal representation for entire neighborhoods can be a reality. We’re doing it in Bayview Hunters Point, and we’re ready to make it happen in even more communities. We look forward to everyone’s dedication in making our campaign a success so we can turn $500,000 dollars into an even better Bay Area!

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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.