Volunteer and Help Bring Justice to the Marginalized

Thanks for your interest in volunteering with us! We strive to create enriching volunteer experiences for a people with a wide variety of skills and availabilities and specialize in providing opportunities for people looking to do skills-based volunteering. 

Skills / Availability

First, we'd like to get a better sense of what you're interested in, what your level of professional experience is, and what time commitment you're envisioning


Based on the your availability and skills, here are some volunteer positions that you might qualify for. Check as many of the positions that interest you.

Legal interns do case work and legal research under the supervision of a staff attorney. We believe in deeply challenging our interns and think the experience is formative for anyone interested in direct services.

As a legal case manager working in the office, you will have the opportunity to conduct client intake meetings, work directly with clients, and manage your own cases. You will work under the supervision and guidance of our staff attorneys. This job is best for someone that wants to rapidly learn how to creatively represent the marginalized in our society and build up their resume.

As a pro bono partner working in the office, you will have the opportunity to conduct client intake meetings, work directly with clients, and manage your own cases. You will work under the mentorship of our staff. This is a great opportunity to build legal skills in a fast-paced, high-impact setting.

As an investigator you will work in the office with the paralegals to help gather evidence in cases. You will work a few hours every week out of the office doing errands at the court house or other places. You may also be asked to take intake notes for the attorneys during intakes.

We use outreach to help us find new clients and spread work about us to the community. As an after hours outreach volunteer, you will table at local events or at community locations and be the face of ODL for potential new clients. You will need to know the basic services that ODL provides and be able to explain that to clients.

Translators help us communicate with clients who do not speak english. Usually, this is done orally, but sometimes we also need documents translated. We have a special need for volunteers that speak Cantonese.

As an intern, we'll work with you to develop a project that fits your interests and skills. Projects could include engaging in social science research or conducting a client feedback survey. Undergrad internships are highly competitive.

We use skilled volunteers for a huge array of projects, from developing Salesforce to copy-editing grants to recruiting other skilled volunteers. We typically ask for a 2-3 mo. commitment, working a few hours a week on the project.

We're always excited to host skilled volunteers with experience in photography, videography, or online marketing to work on specific, time-bound, projects

We hold events throughout the year. Event volunteers help with tasks like setup, take-down, ushering, check-in, and promotions.

Personal Information

Next, we'd like you to enter your personal information


Based on the roles you've selected, we'd like you to answer a few additional questions:

If you have a linkedin profile, please provide a link to it here

For internship applications, we require you to upload a copy of your resume

For internship applications, we require you to upload a copy of your cover letter


Thanks for completing our volunteer application! A representative will be in touch within a week to continue the conversation. 

If you indicated interest in being a pro bono partner, you will be redirected to our pro bono form upon submission. Please complete that form as well.


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

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.