Bay Area Legal Aid (San Francisco)

Serves the low- and very low-income members of the seven-county San Francisco Bay area, from San Francisco to Livermore, Gilroy to Napa.
Organization website

Primary geographic focus: California
Organization type(s): Provider
Acronym or short name: BayLegal
Lists: LSC

BayLegal is committed to providing meaningful access to the civil justice system through quality legal assistance regardless of a client’s location, language or disability. In the Bay Area, more than 1.2 million people live in poverty. More than half of these families have a full-time worker in the home. The cost of living in the Bay Area and low-wage jobs take their toll on our communities and neighbors. BayLegal serves the low- and very low-income members of the seven-county San Francisco Bay area, from San Francisco to Livermore, Gilroy to Napa. They include the working poor, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities. Each year BayLegal’s services benefit 70,000 Bay Area residents.

As of January 1, 2016, Legal Aid of Napa Valley merged into Bay Area Legal Aid.


News Story

San Jose: Lawsuit challenges city housing policy

Ramona Giwargis
Mercury News (San Jose, CA)
July 25, 2016
Two struggling renters and a pair of advocacy groups joined in filing a lawsuit Thursday against San Jose claiming a recent city land-use policy violates a state affordable-housing law.

News Story

Virginia Suspends Hundreds of Thousands of Driver’s Licenses Due to Unpaid Court Debt

CJ Ciaramella
August 4, 2016
More than 900,000 people in Virginia have suspended licenses, in what a new class-action lawsuit claims is an unconstitutional revenue scheme.

News Story

Suit: Suspending licenses of poor who can’t pay tickets illegal

Bob Egelko
SF Gate
October 25, 2016
Lawyers in Tuesday’s suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, said the amnesty was far too limited and the state is still penalizing hundreds of thousands of former motorists for being poor.

News Story

Legal aid groups prepare for loss of federal funds

Dominic Fracassa
San Francisco Chronicle
March 21, 2017
Legal aid organizations across California are bracing for what could be a devastating financial blow following the release of the Trump administration’s draft budget last week.

News Story

California court to halt license suspensions of poor drivers

Associated Press (AP)
August 8, 2017
Solano County Superior Court will notify traffic defendants of their right to be heard regarding their ability to pay, the coalition said, and the notices will explain their right to ask for a lower fine, a payment plan, or community service.


California Has a System That Punishes the Poor Through Traffic Violations—Civil Rights Groups Are Starting to Change That

Adam Hudson
September 14, 2017
Solano County traffic violators will get a chance to challenge the unreasonably high fees that send them into debt.

News Story

Majority of Bay Area Homeless Youth Come from Foster Care or Juvenile Justice, Report Says

Sara Tiano
Chronicle of Social Change (CA)
October 22, 2018
Three out of four homeless youth in the Bay Area has been in foster care, the juvenile justice system, or both, according to a study by a key legal aid group in the area.

News Story

Advocates say SFPD unlawfully keeps domestic violence survivors waiting for police reports

Michael Barba
San Francisco Examiner
December 17, 2018
Victim advocates have threatened to sue the San Francisco Police Department for repeatedly flouting a nearly two-decade-old state law requiring the speedy release of police reports to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

News Story

Legal aid group threatens to sue SFPD over delays in domestic-abuse reports

Dominic Fracassa
San Francisco Chronicle
April 16, 2019
Bay Area Legal Aid is threatening to sue to compel the San Francisco Police Department to provide timely copies of incident reports to victims of domestic violence, as mandated by state law.

Long Form

No Money, No Lawyer, No Justice – The vast, hidden inequities of the civil legal system

Kathryn Joyce
New Republic
June 22, 2020


Crippled by a Debt to the IRS

Jessica Pishko
April 15, 2016
Millions of working people struggle to pay back taxes.

News Story

Uber, Lyft Drivers Having Trouble Affording Leases Offered Through Ridesharing Companies

KPIX-TV (SF Bay Area)
February 29, 2016
There’s a new problem for Uber and Lyft drivers – drivers are having trouble affording the expensive car leases offered through the rideshare companies.


Unemployment Is a Full-Time Job

Jessica Pishko
January 29, 2016
Although many have the impression that poor people lead easy lives, just getting the benefits they're entitled to can be a struggle.

News Story

$45 Billion Zuckerberg-Chan Pledge Has Charities Excited — and Wary

Chronicle of Philanthropy
December 4, 2015
Leaders at grant-seeking charities say they are excited to see what Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his spouse have in mind for the $45 billion they pledged to doing good in the world — and wary of the broader impact it may have on philanthropy.

News Story

Ticket amnesty could benefit thousands

Bay City News (California)
October 1, 2015
At least 300,000 Bay Area residents could be eligible for help under a California law that went into effect Thursday to cut old ticket fines and reinstate lost driver’s licenses, according to a legal service and advocacy group.

News Story

California Moves to Provide Interpreters in All Court Cases

Associated Press (AP)
August 16, 2015
California only guarantees access to an interpreter in criminal cases, not civil cases. The state is looking to change that.

News Story

Low-Income Tenants to be Directly Displaced by Development in El Cerrito

Sam Levin
East Bay Express (Oakland, CA)
July 7, 2015
An El Cerrito townhome development is displacing longtime tenants from an affordable RV park.

News Story

Richmond: Family justice center offers services, hope to community

Karina Ioffee
Contra Costa Times (CA)
June 4, 2015
Article covering the opening of West County Family Justice Center, a one-stop resource center for victims of domestic and sexual violence, elder abuse and human trafficking.

Audio , Interview , News Story

Traffic Fines Disproportionately Hurt California’s Poor

Micheal Krasny
KQED Radio (NPR) (Northern California)
April 8, 2015
Forum on NPR discuss a new report by legal aid and civil rights groups, which found traffic courts and fees disproportionately impact the state's most vulnerable populations. (Length: 51:43)

News Story

Judge Orders California To Make Timely Decisions On Medicaid Coverage

Anna Gorman
Kaiser Health News (KHN)
January 23, 2015
“The ruling is absolutely vital in ensuring benefits for everyone who is entitled to them,” said Cori Racela, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.


Tenants Facing Eviction in Era of Skyrocketing Rents Need Legal Assistance

Martha Bergmark
American Prospect, The
September 18, 2014
Without legal assistance, tenants often miss crucial steps and find themselves out of a home.

This page last modified: Tue, May 3, 2016 -- 3:11 pm ET