Get the Legal Help You Need. 

For Free.

Open Door Legal, Inc. (ODL) is a non-profit legal services organization with the mission of providing free legal representation on all viable civil legal claims or defenses for low-income residents of our San Francisco service areas, with the goal of reducing poverty. 

Do you have a life problem that could have a legal solution? We can figure out the best next steps with you. Fill out our screening form (linked below) to start your journey of getting the help you need.

Client Testimonies

Da Wen

“Most immigrants don’t know the law. They don’t know if they can get help. ODL really helped in navigating a system that is unclear for immigrants to navigate.”


“It was very important to live as a family. We all help each other. Which is the main purpose of living together. I’m very thankful for Open Door Legal for keeping our family together.”


“Sometimes there are seemingly unsolvable problems that keep you awake at night and have a tendency to make you depressed. But the lawyers at Open Door Legal put my mind at ease and helped me face my problem head-on.”


I was nervous at first, but that all went away once I started working with my attorney. She helped me in a timely manner, with professionalism and respect.”

Common Case Areas

Housing Icon

Housing Law

  • Eviction Defense
  • Tenant Harassment Claims
  • Repairs and Habitable Living Conditions Advocacy
  • Discrimination Claims against Landlords
  • Subsidizing Housing Issues
  • Security Deposits Not Returned
  • Removal of Past Evictions from Public Records
Family Icon

Family Law

  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Dissolution
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • Guardianship
Employment Icon

Employment & Public Benefits Law

  • Recovery of unpaid wages and other wage and hour violations
  • Disability accommodations
  • Wrongful termination
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • SSI, SSDI, and public benefits issues, including appeals
Elder Icon

Elder Law

  • Estate planning including wills and trusts
  • Elder Abuse Restraining Orders
  • Conservatorships (uncontested)
  • Probate litigation
Immigration Icon

 Immigration Law

  • Family-based immigration petitions
  • Naturalization and adjustment of status
  • Asylum, U-visas, T-visas, VAWA-based petitions
  • Temporary protected status
  • Criminal history related immigration issues
Consumer Icon

Consumer Law & Victim’s Rights

  • Debt Collections Defense
  • Bankruptcy (Chapter 7)
  • Small Claims (cases under $10,000)
  • Homeownership issues, including mortgages
  • Personal Injury/Contract Fraud
  • Financial Elder Abuse
  • Civil Harassment Restraining Orders
  • Victim’s Advocacy in Criminal Court (Marsy’s Law)

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I qualify?

Open Door Legal currently provides free legal representation to low-income adults for civil matters for those individuals who reside in Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, or 11 in San Francisco.

We define low-income as 50% Area Median Income (AMI), as published by MOHCD annually. 

We do not represent employers against employees, landlords against tenants, defendants needing help in criminal court, people appearing in traffic court, businesses facing a commercial eviction, or people needing help with Child Protective Services matters. 

If you do not qualify for our services or are not sure if you qualify, please still fill out our intake form so we can provide you with referrals and other resources.

We are also a first-come, first-served legal organization in regards to conflicts of interest. We cannot ethically help both people who are suing each other. We will help the person that is eligible for our services and if both are eligible, then we will assist the person who fills out the form first. If we are conflicted from helping you, we will then provide a referral.

What happens after I complete my screening form?

Within 2 business days of submitting the online screening form, you will hear from a member of our Frontline Team. Then they will book you an intake with an attorney or legal staff member under the supervision of an attorney, at one of our 4 offices or remotely, based on your preference. Your intake meeting may be 2 weeks in the future. The Frontline Team member will ask for more information, triage emergencies, and request documents pertaining to your situation. The Frontline Partners are not attorneys and cannot advise if your issue is one that ODL can help you with.

Does submitting the form guarantee that I will be given an attorney?

No. If you are eligible, and there is no ethical reason that we cannot have an intake with you, then you will get an intake meeting with an attorney or team member supervised by an attorney. At the intake, the case manager will tell you if you have a viable legal issue and if so, what scope of legal help ODL can provide for you. A viable legal issue is a legal cause of action supported by evidence that we can use to sue someone, apply for a change in legal status, or defend you. 

ODL is not your attorney until both you and an agent of ODL sign a legal agreement. Up until that agreement is signed, ODL does not represent you and is not liable for any deadlines related to your case.

I am unable to complete the screening form online. What should I do?

You may consider asking a family, friend, or caseworker for assistance, or you can come to any one of our offices to use one of our computers or iPads. Once in our office, our team can help you complete the form. We have limited capacity to help with the form over the phone. We can also provide a telephone interpretation service in-office if you need to fill out the form in a language other than English, Chinese, or Spanish.

Why do you need all my information asked on the screening form?

Details relating to your legal situation are confidential within the Open Door Legal team and computer system. That means that even if we do not open a case for you, we still must keep all your information confidential. We need the answers to these questions to better understand your situation and properly assess how we can help. In addition, this demographic information allows us to receive grants and funding that keep our doors open.

What do you need to know about being a client at ODL?

When ODL opens a case to assist with a client’s legal problem, the client agrees to partner with us on addressing this legal problem.  While we do not promise any particular outcome, our team works zealously to advocate for the client while following the rules for lawyers.  Likewise, our clients have a responsibility to partner with us, which includes treating one another with mutual respect, being honest with one another, and responding to one another’s communications.

Where are your offices and what are your walk-in hours?

Click here to view our office locations and walk-in hours!


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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

Please contact 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

2. George Washington Law School, In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services