Open Roles                            Types of Opportunities                          Application Process                            FAQS                              Apply Now

Volunteers Help the Law Belong To All Of Us!

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

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Overall Satisfaction Score from Summer 2022 Volunteers

“I was given so many opportunities to participate in client intakes, hearings, follow-ups and more. I felt challenged when I was assigned research assignments and I am more confident in my abilities now.

I enjoyed engaging with Open Door Legal clients, seeing their expressions change from somewhat fearful or stressed to hopeful was such a treat.

All of the ODL staff are truly so welcoming and kind. The Family Law team in particular made my summer an unforgettable one.”

Jocelyn Pantoja
Summer 2022 Family Law Clerk
Golden Gate University School of Law

Opportunities Include:

Intern, Law Clerks, Pro Bono, Legal Fellows and General Volunteers

 

Law Clerks (Current Law Students)
  • We host law students or recent law graduates as law clerks in all areas of law.
  • For Fall and Spring semesters, we require a minimum of 12 hours/week for at least 3 months.
  • For Summer, we require 40 hours/week for 10 weeks.
    Fellows
    • We host fellows that are supported by outside organizations (i.e. Skadden, EJW, LFA, LSFN, BOLD, through your school, etc.).
    • We also support fellows as need arises, and any openings are posted on our Join Our Team page. Applications for these specific positions should be submitted there.
    • Depending on the program, fellows are typically working with us from a minimum of 3 months to 2 years.
    • If you are interested in applying for a fellowship with an outside organization, please fill out the form and tell us about your idea.
    Pro Bono
    • We have two opportunities for attorneys to volunteer with Open Door Legal:
      • The first opportunity is to take on full-scope cases in any of the following areas: Civil, Family, Housing, Immigration, Employment, and Elder. Must be barred in CA for any area other than Immigration. Time commitment varies case-to-case.
      • The second opportunity is clinics. We host virtual Housing Advice Intake Clinics, and are always looking for more attorneys to support the clinics program. Housing experience is preferred, but please let us know if you’re interested.
    Intern (Recent & Current Undergraduate Students)
    • We host undergraduate/recent graduates as interns in all areas of law, and also in non-legal roles including finance, talent and culture, public affairs, technology, and development.
    • For Fall and Spring semesters, we require a minimum of 12 hours/week for a minimum of 3 months.
    • For Summer, we require 40 hours/week for at least 8 weeks.
    General Volunteers with Specific Skill Sets
    • We utilize volunteers in various capacities with specific skills sets. Some areas where we often need help are with language interpretation (currently Spanish, Cantonese, Arabic and Vietnamese are high needs), if you are a notary, an architect, landscaper, software developer, a community ambassador, etc. – these are all examples of skill sets we leverage with volunteers!
    Not Sure Where You Fit?

    Not sure where you fit? Fill out this form and let us know what skills you’d like to contribute!

    Open Roles

    “Early in my career when I built my own practice, I was looking for opportunities to contribute to the community and provide legal services beyond the day-to-day work of my law firm. Partnering with Open Door Legal was a no-brainer.

    I strongly believe in the organization’s mission of providing civil justice to individuals who otherwise can’t afford legal services, and that the ability to pay should not be what decides whether the law can work for you or not.”

    Brandon Leahy
    Pro Bono Lawyer
    Wilson Sonsini

    I have gained knowledge about tenant-landlord law and practical applications of property law.

    I have been spoiled by getting to work with a group so genuine and caring during my first law school summer. Overall, I think that my experience will make me a more compassionate, well-rounded and thoughtful attorney in the future.

    “If you want to have a direct impact and work directly with clients in an inclusive and compassionate environment, this would be the place to work.” 

    “Open Door Legal stands out by authentically integrating volunteers into their internal working sphere. I deeply appreciated this, as it is easy to forget to extend inclusive opportunities to volunteers.  When ODL provided permission to participate like a real part of the team, it allowed me as a volunteer to show up and give what I had to offer.”

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the minimum age requirements for volunteering at ODL?

    You must be at least 18 years old.

    What is the time commitment?

    It varies by role. In the Summer term, we ask for 40 hours/week for 8 weeks from interns and 10 weeks from law clerks. During Fall and Spring terms, we ask for a minimum of 12 hours/week for 3 months.

    Are the internships or law clerkships paid?

    No, they are not paid.

    Are the fellows paid?

    Yes, fellows are paid a stipend either by ODL (for positions posted on Breezy) or by a partner organization that is sponsoring the fellowship.

    Where do volunteers work?

    As of Summer 2022, the volunteer opportunities are typically hybrid, with some exceptions for fully remote. Volunteers are assigned to our offices in Bayview, Excelsior and Western Addition for days they are in the office.

    Can I earn academic credit for volunteering?

    Yes! We are happy to coordinate with your institution to authorize academic credit for your work, as they permit.

    Can I volunteer if I’m still in school?

    Yes! As long as you can commit to a minimum of 12 hours/week, you can volunteer while in school.

    Can I still join the internship program if I need to start later or end earlier than the dates indicated?

    We are able to make reasonable accommodations as long as you are able to commit to a minimum time requirement: 12 hours/week for 3 months in Fall and Spring, or 40 hours/week for 8 for interns or 10 weeks for law clerks in Summer.

    Will I be eligible for any awards?

    Yes! If you complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer work, you will be eligible to receive the Wiley W. Manuel certificate from the California Lawyers Association. The award was created in 1989 to recognize the contributions of the many lawyers, law students, paralegals and secretaries in California who volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of low-income clients. JUSTICE WILEY W. MANUEL (1927-1981) became the first African-American Justice of the California Supreme Court when Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed him in 1977. Efforts to provide legal services to California’s poor honor the memory of Justice Manuel and are yet another example of our profession’s commitment to pro bono legal services (source)

    What schools are represented by former interns, law clerks and fellows?

    Including, but not limited to: Boston University, Cornell Law School of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law, Pepperdine School of Law, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University Law, Stanford School of Law, University of California Berkeley, University of California Berkeley School of Law, University of California Hastings College of Law, University of California Los Angeles School of Law, University of Chicago, University of San Francisco, University of San Francisco School of Law, University of Vermont, University of Virginia School of Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Westmont College.

    “There were many aspects of interning at Open Door Legal that I loved, but if I had to choose one, it would be the amount of opportunities to learn. My supervisor worked hard to cultivate a fulfilling and rewarding internship experience for me based on my interests, and I was invited to intern-only trainings once a week to learn more about a variety of legal and client-based topics.

    In addition, staff members were happy to provide personal advice and support about law school/this field.”

    Allison Edwards
    2022 Summer Frontline Intern
    UC Berkeley

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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:

    Cryptocurrency

    Donor-Advised Fund

    Stock

    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.

    CITATIONS

    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