Last updated: October 8, 2013
San Franciscans have many options when looking for free or low-cost legal assistance. If you’re local, you know how difficult driving around ‘The City’ can be. Many of the services are located along public transit lines and near San Francisco’s many courthouses.
Residents are a short MUNI or BART ride away from the government offices and public interest organizations that give ordinary citizens access to justice. If you are (1) looking for representation, (2) need help representing yourself, or (3) aren’t sure but you have a legal emergency, here is a guide to the many services SF has to offer. Finally, scroll down to see a thorough list of legal services aimed designed for specific groups of individuals.
San Francisco Law Library
The SF law library is a great place to start when looking for free and low-cost legal help. The law library maintains a web page listing services by topic and services for specific groups of people.
Legal Assistance Line: (415) 354-6360
Toll Free Number: (800) 551-5554
BayLegal tends to focus on domestic violence, family law, housing, health care, and public benefits issues. The organization will refer you if it is unable to help you with your issue. The office is conveniently located near the Civic Center Station. Parking can be hard-to-find and risky. Public Transit is usually the best way to arrive.
Call (415) 989-1616 or request a referral online.
The L.R.I.S. offers low-cost help from local attorneys experienced in a wide range of areas. Clients typically only pay $35 for a referral and a 30 minute consultation. If you have been injured, the referral and consultation are usually free.
Federal Pro Bono Project
A federal court may refer you to a free, Pro Bono attorney for help with civil cases, including: employment discrimination, police misconduct, and foreclosure. An attorney may help you with the full scope of your case or individual aspects. If you are have already been assigned to a Judge or a Magistrate, ask about the Federal Pro Bono Project.
Getting There: Take public transit to Civic Center Station. If driving, there are several parking garages nearby.
The ACCESS Center helps individuals in Family Law and Civil Law matters. It is completely free, but you may have to pay for photocopies and filing fees. Visitors with low-income may be able to file for free. ACCESS Center cannot provide you with a lawyer, and the staff cannot help you if you already have one. The center also provides this flyer for community legal referrals.
Getting There: U.C. Hastings is located one block from the Civic Center Station. The school operates a parking garage at Larkin and Golden Gate. Enter on the Larkin side. Approach from the south because Larkin is a one-way street.
Providence Baptist Church of San Francisco
1601 McKinnon Avenue (at Mendell)
San Francisco, CA 94124
Getting There: Providence B.C. is located near the 23, 24, and 44 Bus Lines. Street parking is available.
Getting There: The office is near the Civic Center Station. Several parking structures nearby.
The J.D.C. offers information and advice to individuals representing themselves in federal court. The staff attorney can help you prepare simple court filings and refer you to other services. The staff attorney is available by appointment only. Sign up in person or call (415) 782-8982.
L.A.E. offers help with housing, public benefits, elder abuse, and simple wills to clients who are over age 60 and have a disability.
The Lawyers’ Committee offers help in many kinds of civil rights cases, including immigration and asylum cases.
ALRP staff and attorneys usually handle most civil legal issues including: bankruptcy, employment discrimination, estate planning, family law, housing, and insurance claims. In addition to referring clients to volunteer attorneys, ALRP has programs to educate clients on health and legal issues.
API Legal Outreach works with clients in many Asian languages and dialects. The organization largely focuses on domestic violence, immigration, senior law, human trafficking, and public benefits.
HAP provides legal and social services to people and families who are homeless or may soon become homeless. Common issues include: disability benefits, eviction defense, and immigration documentation.
L.S.C. provides fre legal services to people under age 18. Typical issues include: guardianship, school discipline, foster care, emancipation, and immigration.