Last updated: October 24, 2013
Some people like crossing the bridge and heading into the City, but when you need legal help that might be the last thing you want to do. Toll Crossings, BART strikes, and cloudy weather . . . No thanks! Stay on the sunny side of the bay if you can.
Northern California has several high quality law schools. Many of their successful graduates offer free or low-cost services in Oakland and other East Bay communities. Whether you live in Oakland, Alameda, Fremont, West Contra Costa, or anywhere in between, there are probably services in your neighborhood committed to helping people with low incomes or who have other limitations. These services are a short BART or AC Transit ride away.
VLSC offers both (1) referrals to pro bono attorneys and (2) free legal clinics to individuals with low incomes. Call the intake number M-F between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM. VLSC has a network of pro bono attorneys to help with immigration, bankruptcy, landlord-tenant, family law, and other legal issues. For more details, see the organization's brochure. The clinics are designed to help individuals who are representing themselves in various areas of law. Clinics typically cover, debt collection defense, bankruptcy, dissolution of marriage, and guardianship, in addition to the matters covered in the referral program.
This group of lawyers offers self-help resources and a referral service. The bar association's website features a directory on where to find information on government websites, and where to complain if you have a problem. The CCCBA site also features short videos to help individuals handle their legal issues. The referral service includes contacts with attorneys who have agreed to reduce their fees for Contra Costa residents with lower incomes.
Call M-Th, between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM only. These are the only times that the center can answer calls and accept messages. The centers offer instructions, books, and referrals to help visitors with many areas of law. Click the above link for a complete list of legal topics, office hours, and a schedule of free workshops and clinics. The other two self-help locations are found at:
Alameda County Office Building
224 W. Winton, Room 179
Hayward, CA 94544
George E. McDonald Hall of Justice
2233 Shoreline Drive, 1st Floor
Alameda, CA 94501
The East Bay Community Law Center provides multiple forms of assistance. The Housing, Immigration, Youth Defender Clinic and Welfare Advocacy & Policy practice groups offer direct representation to clients in various legal proceedings. Other practice groups offer advice and identify other forms of assistance. Many services are also available en Espanol or with the assistance of an interpreter. The office is on Adeline Street and Ashby Avenue, walking distance from the Ashby BART station.
Bay Legal offers a wide range of services including advice, counseling, and representation. Attorneys and staff work in many different areas of law including housing, consumer law, immigration, domestic violence, and more.
This office is located within walking distance from the 19th Street BART station. If you plan on driving, there is not much street parking available. Visitors can usually find an un-"occupied" parking space in the structure at the Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Remote sites in East County serve the residents of the Antioch, Concord, and Pittsburg communities. Call the Richmond office for more information.
FVLC offers attorney services for domestic violence victims who reside in Alameda County. The organization gives referrals for free assistance to residents from other locations. The staff works to obtain restraining orders, custody, and provide help with other matters related to abuse. The office is on 27th Street between Broadway and Telegraph. The AC Transit #1 and #51 stop nearby.
HAC helps clients with issues related to public benefits (SSI, SSDI, Medical, etc.). The organization serves the low-income and disabled populations in and around Berkeley and Oakland. Call or drop-in. The Berkeley office is located at:
3126 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
LAS serves elderly residents from all over Alameda County. The main office is in downtown Oakland, but the organization operates from senior centers in Alameda, Fremont, Hayward, and Pleasanton. The staff provides help with elder abuse, guardianship, health benefits, and more.