Open Door Legal Expands, Envisioning a Future With Universal Access to Legal Aid

"Our goal is to, over the next few years, finish expanding citywide so that 100% of low-income residents in the city can access legal help in any area of civil law and then become a model for national replication."

Audio, News Story (California)

Laura Wenus
San Francisco Public Press
January 27, 2020

Tags: Access to Justice

Organizations mentioned/involved: Open Door Legal


In the United States, you have the right to an attorney to defend you if a criminal charge is brought against you. In some other countries, you also have that right in civil cases. Not so in the U.S., which means low-income people facing an eviction or trying to take an abuser to court may need a lawyer but be unable to afford one.

One organization looking to change that is Open Door Legal. With the help of a million-dollar city grant, the nonprofit has just cut the ribbon on two new locations in the Excelsior and Western Addition. Together with the group’s existing office in the Bayview, the new offices bring the portion of low-income San Franciscans with access to legal aid to nearly half. Open Door Legal’s co-founder and director, Adrian Tirtanadi, shares his story of setting out as a young lawyer with a vision to serve every low-income resident of one neighborhood, and his ambitions for setting higher expectations for access to legal representation.