We’re expanding the country’s first system of universal access to legal help

Imagine a general hospital for legal help

Like a general hospital, we are a single point of entry where everyone who needs can get help. We have a wide network of community and pro bono partners who help us ensure that nobody is turned away. 

Every dollar spent on our services generates $21 in benefit for the community

Direct Benefit

Deterrence Value

  • Legal Services 85.6% 85.6%
  • Food Kitchen and Services 24% 24%
  • Early Childhood Education 20% 20%
  • Micro-Finance 16.8% 16.8%
  • Elementary School 16.4% 16.4%
  • Women’s Shelter 12% 12%
  • Public Health Clinic 12% 12%
  • Housing and Services 12% 12%
  • Financial Education 7.6% 7.6%

Using metrics from the Robin Hood foundation, we’ve found that every dollar spent on universal legal services generates $6.6 in direct benefit to our clients and $14.7 in benefit to the larger community. This totals to $21 in total Social Return on Interest (SROI) for every dollar spent, making our services one of the most cost-effective anti-poverty solutions. We’ve done further extensive research on the case for Universal Access to Legal Help.

This work is only possible because of our generous supporters. Join us, and help make a difference in your community.

Deterrence is what makes our work so cost-effective. Here’s how:

Let’s say there was a landlord who was neglecting his entire apartment complex, because his tenants were low-income and he knew he could get away with it. 

Just having one tenant with legal help will improve the conditions of all of the units the landlord manages. This is because legal action leads to long term behavior change that improves outcomes for the entire community. 


Our Case Outcomes

Learn more about our outcomes here.

Clients Helped

Evictions Prevented

Families Kept Safe

There are so many ways you can get involved today

Vision Zero Displacement Call-Back

Please make checks payable to Open Door Legal and mail them to:

Open Door Legal
PO Box #369
San Francisco, CA 94112

We also accept donations via:


Donor-Advised Fund


You can view all of the ways to give at https://opendoorlegal.org/donation-information

Please contact laurat@opendoorlegal.org if you have any questions or need any additional information.  Thank you so much for the support!

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.


1. American University, Key Studies and Data About How Legal Aid Improves Housing Outcomes https://www.american.edu/spa/jpo/toolkit/upload/housing-7-30-19.pdf

2. George Washington Law School, In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi