Meet Alejandra!

Meet Alejandra, our new Consumer Law Attorney. Alejandra came to us from Catholic Charities where she worked with women and children impacted by chronic illness and homelessness. Previously, she worked in public health law and policy, education policy, and immigration law. “This position brings together the social work skills that I have been building and my legal skills. I’m very passionate about racial and economic justice and I think that [BHPCL] has a good understanding of how our work impacts broader structures. I don’t see much difference in the core of work that I’m doing. It feels like a natural progression of my interests.” In consumer law, Alejandra works with clients who have experienced a violation of their rights by an entity with far more power and resources. “The areas that I’m working in are geared towards addressing economic injustice. I love that my work ties in all of my experience. I call upon my background in community organizing and things that I learned in law school studying critical race theory and public interest law and policy. It’s a big challenge.”

I see the process of diving into people’s problems as therapeutic and healing. They have power in that room that they’ve rarely had before. As an advocate, I can give them leverage.

Alejandra feels that the most rewarding part of her job is face to face time with her clients. “I like working with people and the feeling of putting people at ease, making them feel supported and having them leave the situation feeling more empowered. I see the process of diving into people’s problems as therapeutic and healing. They have power in that room that they’ve rarely had before. As an advocate I can give them leverage.” For Alejandra, these moments are the culmination of years of practice. “I’ve been working towards this my whole life. I feel like I’ve been building my skills since I was a little girl–to help the people around me and to be an advocate. Growing up in Modesto, I played the advocate role for my family.”

I feel strongly that the general public needs to know how many people are being exploited on a daily basis with no way out.

What makes Alejandra equally as excited, is that she doesn’t feel that she’s alone in this work. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how passionate our attorneys and our mentor attorneys are about being a part of the community and helping people who wouldn’t normally be able to access legal representation.” Nevertheless, the problems persist, and Alejandra is getting a better sense of how common they are. “I feel strongly that the general public needs to know how many people are being exploited on a daily basis with no way out. From insurance companies to for-profit schools to landlords, there are a lot of people making money on people who have very little. I’m excited to work with other organizations in the area and look forward to coordinating creative solutions to make San Francisco a more just city.” Aside from being our best Consumer Law Attorney, Alejandra is killer on the dance floor and enjoys taking Samba, Capoeira, and Zumba classes.

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.