The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County’s mission is to fight social injustice through civil legal advocacy for people living in poverty.

The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County’s vision is for every person to have the basic necessities of life, including safe affordable housing, access to health care, economic security, secure immigration status, an appropriate education and freedom from violence and abuse. 

We strive to empower people to overcome the causes and effects of poverty so they can participate in their community with dignity and respect.

We seek to remove barriers related to poverty, disability, race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status through community education, legal representation, systemic advocacy and collaboration with community partners.


Through community education, legal representation, systemic advocacy and collaboration with community partners, we help people:

  • Secure safe, affordable housing
  • Access health care
  • Obtain economic security
  • Establish immigration status
  • Receive an appropriate education
  • Realize freedom from violence and abuse

In 1959, a dedicated group of lawyers and community leaders recognized an unmet need to help the less fortunate in San Mateo County. Thanks to these founders, in a small one-room office, the Legal Aid Society was born. One of the earliest cases involved a Spanish-speaking maid who was not allowed to retrieve her belongings when she resigned. Legal Aid successfully advocated on her behalf and the client was able to recover her possessions.

Since then, the Legal Aid Society has grown to become one of California’s most respected public interest law firms. A vital voice for San Mateo County’s undeserved populations, the organization has received awards for excellence in the delivery of legal services.

Legal Aid continues to provide free, quality civil legal services to San Mateo County’s low-income residents. Our advocacy has evolved with the times; we fought for civil rights in the 1960s and fair wages for farmworkers in the 1980s.

Today the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County serves as legal advocates and representatives for disadvantaged people. We work closely with community organizations and county agencies to find solutions to our clients’ legal problems. Our work encompasses five broad areas: