Community Legal Resources
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General Legal Resources Serving the East Bay and Bay Area (Including Online Resources)
Alameda County Bar Association
The Alameda County Bar Association’s Community Legal Assistance Saturday Program (CLASP) holds intake on the first Saturday of each month from 10am-12pm. A free 15-20 minute consultation will take place with an attorney on the following (second) Saturday. They can assist with issues including family, criminal, housing, consumer, immigration, employment, and more.
125 Twelfth Street, Oakland
Bay Area Legal Aid – Legal Advice Line
The Bay Area Legal Aid Legal Advice Line is a free legal hotline available to qualified low-income residents living in the Bay Area. The Legal Advice Line provides counsel and advice in all languages on a range of civil legal issues.
AIDS Legal Referral Panel
The AIDS Legal Referral Panel serves persons living with HIV disease or AIDS who reside in the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma.
Includes referrals to free and low-cost legal services and several online resources. Call (415) 701-1100 for help with a specific legal question.
Alameda County Court Schedules and Case Information
DomainWeb provides public access case information, including hearing dates, for civil, family law, probate, and small claims cases in Alameda County.
Alameda County Self-Help Centers
These centers are located at courthouses in Oakland, Hayward, and Alameda, and they provide individual information and assistance with small claims, family law, restraining orders, unlawful detainers (evictions), name changes, and guardianship of the person. There are also free legal clinics covering numerous topics. Clinics include (call to confirm days and times):
- Family Law
- Consumer Debt Clinic (appointments must be made through VLSC by calling 302-2222)
- Bankruptcy (appointments must be made through VLSC by calling 302-2222)
- Divorce Clinic (appointments must be made through VLSC by calling 302-2222)
The Self-Help Center also has phone hours, but they are limited to Monday – Thursday from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Oakland Self-Help Center location is:
Rene Davidson Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street, Room 250, Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 272-1393 (calls answered only from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.)
Walk-in Hours: Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Fridays 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
See current details and link to clinic schedule under the heading “Is There Any Help I Can Get at Court?”.
American Bar Association Network
The American Bar Association Network offers a broad “Consumer’s Guide to Legal Help on the Internet,” with sections on hiring a lawyer, finding free legal help, and self-help.
Asian Law Alliance
The Asian Law Alliance provides legal services and programs to low-income Asian/Pacific Islanders in Asian/Pacific Islander languages. Offers consultation and legal representation on a free or low-cost basis and does extensive outreach and preventative education on basic legal rights and obligations. Services and programs include housing, public benefits, employment, immigration, domestic violence and civil rights.
184 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
Asian Law Caucus
The ALC is a legal and civil rights organization serving the low-income Asian Pacific American communities in the Bay Area. Areas of focus include immigration, employment and labor, juvenile justice, language rights, housing and community development, and anti-Asian violence.
939 Market Street, Suite 201, San Francisco
API Legal Outreach
API Legal Outreach (APILO) provides culturally competent and linguistically appropriate legal representation, social services, and advocacy for the most marginalized segments of the community including low-income women, seniors, recent immigrants, and youth.
310 8th St., Suite 305, Oakland
Bay Area Legal Aid – Alameda County
Bay Area Legal Aid – Alameda County offers civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Alameda County in the areas of domestic violence & family law, housing rights, health care access, and public benefits & economic security. Chapters exist for other Bay Area counties in addition to Alameda County (see Web site for more info).
1735 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
(510) 663-4744 (General Number)
(510) 250-5270 (Legal Assistance Line)
Bar Association of California: Lawyer Referral and Information Service
Bar Association of California: Lawyer Referral and Information Service provides assistance in finding a lawyer, a public service group, or a government agency to address your legal issues. A reduced fee for referral may be available based on income eligibility guidelines. Spanish speaking. Requests for lawyers may be made online or by phone.
California Legislative Information
Find the text of any California bill or law at this official State of California Web site. Click on “California Law” to search any or all of the 29 California codes. A downloadable database is also available.
California Courts Self-Help Web site
The state’s judicial branch offers an excellent and comprehensive source of practical legal information and forms.
CARECEN Central American Resource Center
CARECEN is an immigrant family wellness and empowerment organization that a legal staff providing in-person and telephone counseling on various legal matters, including immigration, health and wellness, and empowerment.
1245 Alabama Street, San Francisco
CARECEN Contact Page
Consumer Justice and General Legal Clinic
Consumer Justice and General Legal Clinic is a free legal self-help center in Berkeley offering weekly counseling sessions to low-income residents (income guidelines apply) on consumer legal issues (such as debt collection defense). Session hours are currently Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., but may change (call ahead of time to confirm).
3130 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
California Privacy Enforcement and Protection
California Privacy Enforcement and Protection provides consumer education and information on identity theft and other privacy-related issues.
Department of Fair Employment and Housing
The DFEH has the authority to investigate complaints of discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations and hate violence.
1515 Clay Street, Suite 701, Oakland
Disability Rights California
Disability Rights California is a disability rights organization supporting disabled individuals throughout California with information, advocacy, and – in some cases – individual representation.
Bay Area Regional Office:
1330 Broadway, Suite 500, Oakland
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund is a national disability rights advocacy nonprofit provides legal advocacy in limited situations where a case can have substantial impact on disability rights policy. They also provide occasional educational workshops on disability-related issues.
2212 Sixth Street, Berkeley
East Bay Community Law Center
East Bay Community Law Center provides legal services to East Bay low-income and homeless residents in the areas of housing, welfare, HIV & health, homelessness and economic development.
2921 Adeline Street, Berkeley
International Institute of the Bay Area
International Institute of the Bay Area is a nonprofit serving as a resource for immigrants and refugees, the IIBA offers immigration legal services (including a free immigration information clinic) and a training and employment program for immigrants and refugees.
449 15th Street, Suite 201, Oakland
La Raza Centro Legal
La Raza Centro Legal offers free legal assistance to low-income residents throughout Northern California in specific areas of wage and hour claims, employment discrimination, senior citizen legal assistance, and immigration and naturalization.
474 Valencia St., Suite 295, San Francisco
LawHelpCA.org provides basic self-help legal information and resources for Californians in the areas of housing, public benefits and health, work, immigration, senior issues, Native American issues, families and kids, protection from abuse, consumer law, small claims, civil rights, estate planning, and disability law.
Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights
Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights is a nonprofit agency that provides assistance and referrals for claims related to race discrimination.
131 Steuart St., Suite 400, San Francisco
Lawyers in the Library: Oakland
A free service that offers guidance and referrals. Sessions are typically from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., with signups beginning at 5:00 p.m. and clients chosen by lottery at 5:45 p.m. Call in advance to confirm dates and times (phone numbers for each branch are listed on the Web site).
Lawyer Referral Service – Alameda County Bar Association
The local Bar Association provides referrals to private attorneys who have been screened for their expertise in whatever area of law applies to your situation. There is a $30 fee for the referral, and it includes a 30-minute phone consultation with the referred attorney. No fee is charged for cases related to personal injury, medical malpractice, sexual harassment, or worker’s compensation.
The California Courts self-help Web site has forms in PDF format.
Legal Services for Children
Legal Services for Children provides free legal and social work services to children and youth through representation in matters such as legal guardianship, dependency, school discipline, immigration, emancipation, and restraining order proceedings.
SEEDS Community Resolution Center
SEEDS (Services that Encourage Effective Dialogue and Solutions) is a nonprofit community-based organization that provides mediation for individuals, facilitation for groups and training to manage conflict. Does not provide legal advice but can offer information and services for a referral.
1968 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley
(510) 548-2377, email@example.com
SIREN: Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network
SIREN works to empower low-income immigrants and refugees in Santa Clara County through direct services, community education, leadership development and policy advocacy.
1425 Koll Circle, Suite 103, San Jose, CA
Small Claims Court Information
There are numerous free resources to help you properly prepare file your small claims court action. The Wiley Manuel Self-Help Center (more information listed below) offers in-person and phone assistance with small claims matters. Online resources include:
- California Courts Small Claims Self-Help Info
- Alameda County Superior Court Small Claims Web site
- California Department of Consumer Affairs Small Claims Court Guide
- California Business Search: If you’re suing a company and need to find the person to “serve” with notice of the lawsuit, go to this Web site and enter the name of the business to find its location and the name of the agent for service of process.
State of California Victim Compensation Program
State of California Victim Compensation Program provides compensation for eligible victims of violent crime who are injured or threatened with injury. Among the crimes covered are domestic violence, child abuse, sexual and physical assault, homicide, robbery, drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. If a person meets eligibility criteria, the VCP will compensate many types of services when the costs are not covered by other sources. Eligible services include medical and dental care, mental health services, income loss, funeral expenses, rehabilitation and relocation.
P.O. Box 3036, Sacramento, CA 95812
(800) 777-9229, firstname.lastname@example.org
The State Bar of California’s Online Legal Guides
The State Bar of California’s Online Legal Guides provides access to several pamphlets and informational resources about numerous legal topics.
Transgender Law Center
Offers a comprehensive collection of resources on transgender law (including the gender marker change process) and projects to enhance the treatment of transgender people such as student safety and economic empowerment. Also provides legal clinics for name and gender changes.
870 Market Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA
Volunteer Legal Services Corporation
As part of the Alameda County Bar Association, the VLSC offers numerous free legal clinics to low-income Alameda County residents (at or below 125% of federal poverty income guidelines), available by appointment. Call several weeks in advance to reserve open slots – the clinics fill up quickly. The VLSC also offers referrals to pro bono attorneys for individuals who qualify (most referred matters are family law-related). The VLSC will not assist in civil lawsuits for money.
Worker’s Rights Clinic
Sponsored by the San Francisco Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center, this weekly clinic offers guidance to low-income residents with work-related issues like denial of wages, discrimination, work and safety issues, unemployment benefits, and harassment or wrongful termination.
Your Public Law Library (Council of California Law Librarians)
Your Public Law Library provides several resources to find answers to legal questions, including links to various self-help centers, a mini-research guide, a list of legal libraries by county and numerous legal links. Also includes a link to the AskNow Law Librarian service.
Family Law, Domestic Violence, and Restraining Order Assistance
Alameda County Family Justice Center
Alameda County Family Justice Center is a one-stop center for families dealing with domestic violence that provides numerous services, including legal assistance with restraining orders.
470 27th Street, Oakland
California Women’s Law Center
California Women’s Law Center offers numerous programs to ensure that life opportunities for women and girls are free from unjust social, economic, and political constraints. Programs include pro-bono facilitation and legal training workshops and focus on discrimination, violence, women’s health and reproductive justice.
6300 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 980, Los Angeles, CA
Phone: (323) 951-1041 email@example.com
Contra Costa County Family Law Self-Help Center
Contra Costa County Family Law Self-Help Center includes useful and easy to understand step-by-step guides to family law forms and procedures for adoption, divorce, child custody, child/spousal support, parentage, and domestic violence.
Family Law Information Center (also known as the Family Law Facilitator)
This department of the Superior Court provides procedural information, referrals, and assistance with cases involving the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). Workshops available by appointment include:
- Seeking orders: child support and related issues
- Starting a paternity action
- Starting a divorce when there are children
Family Law ACCESS Self-Help Center, San Francisco
The ACCESS Center offers free assistance to low-income clients in San Francisco. Primary services include help in filing for divorce, restraining orders and aid in child custody and domestic violence issues. Legal advice cannot be given; however, they can refer your case to an attorney if necessary. Spanish speaking.
Family Violence Law Center
Family Violence Law Center provides legal services to victims of domestic violence. Services include civil restraining orders, child custody/visitation/support, divorce, and victim assistance.
(510) 208-0220 (business line)
(510) 208-0255 (crisis line)
WOMAN, Inc. provides multi-lingual crisis counseling, legal, shelter, and other community referrals, peer support groups, and individual therapy.
24-hour domestic violence crisis hotlines:
(415) 864-4722 or (877) 384-3578
333 Valencia St., Suite 450, San Francisco
WomensLaw.org provides legal information and resources to women living with or escaping domestic violence or sexual assault. Publishes state-specific legal information for domestic violence and information on getting help in your community and offers email email assistance directly to women and advocates throughout the U.S.
Landlord-Tenant/Housing Rights Resources
Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
If you live in Berkeley, the Rent Board has an online “Tenant Reference Kit” that includes FAQs discussing many common landlord-tenant issues. The Rent Board also has counselors who answer general questions about tenant rights and responsibilities (though they will not provide legal advice), and also offers mediation services.
2125 Milvia Street, Berkeley
California Tenants Guide: Department of Real Estate/Housing is Key
An excellent overview of the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords in California.
City of Oakland Tenant Information
Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program offers details about the requirements for landlords to raise rent and evict tenants.
Eviction Defense Center
The Eviction Defense Center is a local nonprofit that offers legal guidance to tenants who have been served with a legal complaint or summons related to their tenancy.
350 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 703, Oakland
Housing Code Enforcement Program: City of Berkeley
Berkeley’s City Code Enforcement Program may be able to assist you if your residence is not in compliance with building codes. Tenants can request an inspection of their residence, which typically occurs within 10 days.
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley
A collaboration between Housing Rights, Inc. and the East Bay Community Law Center, Renter’s Rights provides information about renter’s rights and offers self-advocacy tools for tenants to protect those rights.
Tenants Together is a statewide coalition of local tenant organizations dedicated to the rights of California tenants to safe, decent, and affordable housing by offering education, organizing, and advocacy. It offers a Tenant’s Rights Hotline and Sample Letters.
Consumer and Financial Legal Resources
Consumer Assistance: State and Private Agencies
If you need help with a problem related to a retailer, service provider, or employer, a useful first step is to contact the applicable agency for assistance in filing a complaint and/or mediating and resolving the dispute. Any profession that requires a license from the state will have a corresponding oversight agency. Some of the most common include:
- Better Business Bureau: The BBB is not a governmental agency, but does help consumers resolve complaints against businesses (no authority to enforce laws, though). (510) 844-2000.
- Bureau of Automotive Repair: If you have a dispute related to auto repairs, the bureau may be able to mediate your claim without you having to go to court. (800) 952-5210
- California Attorney General: Submit a consumer complaint form for review by the AG’s office.
- Contractors State License Board: Check the status of a contractor’s license and file complaints online.
- Department of Consumer Affairs: Consumer protection rights information. (800) 952-5210
- Department of Consumer Affairs Complaint Program: File a complaint and request assistance with resolution of a dispute with California professionals or businesses that are licensed by the State.
- Department of Industrial Relations: File complaints against and employer related to wage and hour disputes. (510) 622-3273, (510) 622-2660
- Identity Theft: The California Attorney General offers information about preventing identity theft, as well as guidance for victims.
American Bankruptcy Institute’s Consumer Bankruptcy Center
American Bankruptcy Institute’s Consumer Bankruptcy Center provides resources to the consumer bankruptcy professional through its publications, conferences and web resources, as well as an online consumer education center for consumers to help them to determine whether bankruptcy is an appropriate choice for them and to find a consumer bankruptcy attorney.
Bay Area Legal Aid
Bay Area Legal Aid provides legal advocacy for low-income people around the Bay Area. They provide a weekly consumer law clinic that provides legal information and next steps to assist with complaints.
California Department of Insurance: Automobile Series for Consumers
Offers detailed online informational guides relating to automobile insurance and accident issues, as well as general advice regarding automobile related matters.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco offers a variety of helpful financial services and programs, including budgeting, debt management, housing, general online counseling and bankruptcy services. Also provides an online personal finance education center as well as general advice in dealing with the financial crisis.
595 Market Street, 15th Floor, San Francisco
(800) 777-7526, firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Consumer Affairs Legal Guides
The State of California publishes legal guides on various consumer topics, including contracts, credit cards, debt collection, credit repair, privacy, and vehicle leases.
Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)
HERA assists with a broad range of consumer debt and credit issues, including building credit and managing wrongful and rightful debt collection.
3950 Broadway, Ste. 200, Oakland
Office of the District Attorney of Alameda County: Consumer, Environmental & Worker Protection Division (CEWPD)
CEWPD contains forms and information regarding the steps for registering complaints for consumer fraud.
7677 Oakport Street, Suite 650, Oakland
State of California Division of Worker’s Compensation
State of California Division of Worker’s Compensation provides administrative and judicial services to assist in resolving disputes that arise in connection with claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Also offers information and forms regarding workers compensation.
Oakland Office: 1515 Clay Street, 6th floor, Oakland
Criminal Record Resources
Alameda County Clean Slate Program
Alameda County Clean Slate Program offers free legal consultations for eligible individuals who are seeking to clean up their Alameda criminal records. Check website for eligibility.
(510) 548-4040, ext. 390
Clean up Your Criminal Record: California Courts Self-Help Center
In California, under Penal Code Section 1203.4, you have the ability to request a dismissal of a misdemeanor conviction. Visit the California Courts Self-Help Center for specific information on how to request a dismissal and understand the implications of a dismissal.
Office of the Attorney General: Access to Criminal Records
Facilitates the process of requesting your criminal record for California. All steps, descriptions and FAQs are listed on the Office of the Attorney General website.
San Francisco Public Defender’s Clean Slate Program
If you’ve ever been arrested, convicted of a crime or been found delinquent in juvenile court, you may be eligible for assistance to clean up your record. This program offers free walk-in clinics and advice from a clean-slate attorney. Clinics are held in different locations on different days of the week. See the San Francisco Public Defender’s Clean Slate Program website for more information.
555 Seventh Street Main, San Francisco