Dennis

Dennis's Story “All my roommate and I wanted was the $5,500 dollars each we were entitled to” When Dennis first moved into his home in Bayview, there was a 2 foot by 6 inch hole in the wall at the front of the house. For 19 years, he kept the hole covered and always...

Mary

Mary and her son were doing everything right. Mary had secured a new, full-time position at a hospital and her son was preparing for college. Mary expected an increase of rent for the public housing apartment. She paid an extra $100 dollars towards rent the month she...

Joseph

Joseph came to our office looking for a way to move forward. In 2012 and 2013, Joseph received multiple traffic court tickets which accumulated to a large amount of unpaid fines. This resulted in the court putting a hold on his license which made it that much more...

Glenn

Glenn’s life is a winding road of unexpected turns, beautiful views, and occasional accidents. He was in The Homebrew Computer Club, which fostered the brilliant minds of individuals such as Steve Jobs and Gordon French. He is now a veteran who fell through the...

Robin

Petition Granted Robin’s two misdemeanors and three felonies for drug use and possession prevented her from finding affordable housing and restricted her professional life. “I had to live in a motorhome in the streets of San Francisco because of the difficulties with...

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.