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.
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.”
Summer 2022 Family Law Clerk
Golden Gate University School of Law
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.
- 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.
- 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? Register here and let us know what skills you’d like to contribute!
“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.”
Pro Bono Lawyer
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.”
2022 Summer Frontline Intern