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Bay Area Legal Aid: Real stories

Helping people keep their families safe

“I was in a very dark place,” Yan recalled of her first visit to Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal).

Yan’s abusive ex had not only attacked her, but also hurt her one-year-old child, and her elderly mother. Yan had filed a temporary restraining order, but she was unable to afford an attorney and was left unrepresented in court. Living in fear for her family’s continued safety, Yan felt she had nowhere to turn. China’s strict family-planning laws which impose steep fines on single mothers, in addition to the social stigma, made returning to her home country impossible.

With the help of Mandarin interpreters, Yan was quickly connected with a lawyer experienced in family law and domestic violence matters. Her lawyer not only provided legal help in securing a Domestic Violence restraining order and primary physical custody of her child, but also emotional support to overcome her isolation and fear.

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Yan (right), seated with her attorney, shares her advice to other survivors: “Be brave; speak up; and seek help from organizations like BayLegal.”

“Today I can go to school, I can get child support, and I can live independently. Because I got support from Bay Area Legal Aid legally and mentally, they really made my life change… I know that I can live a safe life in the US right now.” – Yan, BayLegal Client

Bay Area Legal Aid provides free legal help for over 60,000 individuals every year

When someone is facing an eviction, struggling to flee an abusive partner, or being denied indispensable medical benefits, there is no guaranteed right to legal representation in our civil courts. BayLegal works to fill this gap in our judicial system. We use the power of the law to help the most vulnerable in our communities so that justice is not just an abstract ideal. Every year, we help over 60,000 individuals protect their families, their health, and their livelihoods.

Civil legal aid helps ensure fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money you have

From Napa Valley to Silicon Valley, San Francisco to San Jose, BayLegal provides low-income individuals and families with free advice and counsel, effective referrals, and legal representation on a range of civil legal issues:

  • Homelessness prevention
  • Domestic violence and sexual assault prevention
  • Economic security
  • Consumer protection
  • Healthcare access

Helping people protect their livelihoods

For low-wage restaurant workers, missed hours and paychecks mean not being able to buy food or pay rent. After the birth of her third child, Chen was fired because she could not nurse and keep up with her restaurant’s demanding shifts. She soon exhausted her unemployment benefits and was not eligible for CalWORKS, a benefit program providing cash assistance to low-income families. When her husband lost his job as well, the family of five was in real danger of becoming homeless.

Chen turned to BayLegal for help, where she was connected to both a Mandarin interpreter and an attorney with expertise in general assistance and other benefit programs for low-income families. With their help, Chen applied for emergency assistance funds so her family could afford rent, food, medicine, and other necessities while she and her husband found work again.

“When someone is in such a dire position like Chen, they need a consistent and collaborative support team to help them regain stability. Thanks to BayLegal’s multilingual staff and cross-disciplinary resources, we were able to achieve that—helping her family maintain financial stability and preserve their housing.” — BayLegal Attorney Kendra Amick

Be an advocate for civil justice

Day in and day out, the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents—foster children, veterans, immigrants, people with disabilities, and victims of domestic violence—rely on Bay Area Legal Aid in times of crisis. While federal funding for legal aid hangs in the balance, our clients’ struggles against the conditions of poverty persist. With your support, we can mean the difference between staying in poverty and getting out; between dependence and self-reliance.

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[Learn more about the impact of legal aid in your community]



Join us for our 3rd Annual Casino Night benefitting Bay Area Legal Aid, June 29th at Rocket Lawyer HQ in San Francisco.


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