The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County offers a myriad of pro bono opportunities that will allow you to make a direct and positive impact on the lives of low-income children, families and seniors by providing them with meaningful access to justice.

Whether you choose to take a settlement conference, a trial, or engage in limited scope representation, whether you participate as a team or individually, we are here to assist you, train you  (MCLE credit available in specified areas), and to provide a panel of experts who will mentor you as you help others in need of legal services. 

You will also be participating in a program of community legal service that has been in existence since our founding in 1959. For more than 50 years low-income residents have looked to us for legal help and no matter how you choose to participate, you are becoming part of a group that numbers into the thousands. Whether you are a private attorney, corporate attorney, paralegal, emeritus attorney or law student - you can assist clients who would otherwise be without legal representation in areas of life’s basic needs.


Legal Aid's Pro Bono Opportunities

Direct Referrals

Legal Aid provides pro bono opportunities for taking cases in the areas of consumer law, elder physical and financial abuse and other poverty law issues that present through our on-going work with clients.

 

Domestic Violence Collaborative

You will provide limited scope representation at permanent restraining order hearings to low-income survivors of domestic violence so that they can remain out of abusive relationships and establish safe and stable lives. Issues may include child custody, visitation and support. Legal Aid partners with Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) and Bay Area Legal Aid to train pro bono attorneys and mentor them through their cases. (MCLE approved training)

 

Guardianship Project

You will assist grandparents, relatives, and other caregivers who are seeking to become a court-ordered guardian. In San Mateo County alone, as many as 10,000 children are being raised by someone other than their own parents. Pro bono attorneys provide full representation through the legal guardianship process.  Pro Bono Attorneys  represent clients in the following areas:

  • Prepare court filings
  • Petition for guardianship of the person
  • Defend a termination of guardianship
  • Petition for guardian of the person and of the estate
  • Representation at the Guardianship Hearing in Probate Court

Many times, guardianship is just the first step in the legal process to securing a child’s well -being. In partnership with the Edgewood Center for Children and Family Services, Kinship Support Services, Kinship provides ongoing support through counseling services for children and families, summer camps and after school programs.  (MCLE approved training)

 

Summer Associates Program

Legal Aid provides summer associates the opportunity to travel to senior centers throughout San Mateo County and participate in our Advance Health Care Directives Clinics. In addition, summer associates have the opportunity to appear in court on a pro bono case by becoming a “certified law student” through the State Bar of California.

 

Housing Clinics

You may choose to provide limited scope representation, participate in a settlement conference or go to trial by volunteering at one of three weekly clinics in Redwood City and Daly City, which together serve about 100 clients each month. This is a great opportunity to assist pro per litigants,  assist in the preparation of motions, attend settlement conferences or, in certain circumstances participate in trial. You will offer legal counseling, advice and/or representation to tenants who are having problems with their landlords that relate to: 

  • Disputes over the condition of the premises
  • Illegal acts by landlords
  • Evictions

You will also be helping tenants whose legal issues arise from living in homes involved in the foreclosure process. (MCLE approved training) 

 

Share of Cost Clinics

A team of pro bono volunteers from Fenwick & West and Facebook work with Legal Aid Health attorneys to hold monthly clinics where volunteers advise seniors and disabled adults about reducing or eliminating their Medi-Cal Share of Cost in order to access medical benefits.

 

Conservatorship Project

When a severely developmentally disabled child turns 18, the child retains all the legal rights of an adult even though he or she is cognitively unable to exercise those rights. 

This project assists families with obtaining a conservatorship when their child turns 18 in order to make important decisions for their disabled child, including fundamental decisions such as where the child will live or what medical treatment they will receive. 

For those of you who have taken guardianship cases over the years, the Judicial Council forms will be familiar and the cases are also heard at a short hearing in the Superior Court in Redwood City in the Probate Department.

The time-commitment for these cases is typically 25-30 hours.  Some of the clients will be Spanish speaking and we have a translator who can work with your attorneys!  (MCLE approved training)



Remember you have something unique to offer those seeking equal access to justice. On behalf of the thousands in need of legal services, thank you. To help determine the most appropriate opportunity, please submit a completed Pro Bono Interest Form Application with a copy of your resume to: Janet B. Seldon, Director of Pro Bono at jbseldon@legalaidsmc.org.