back to Screen-Friendly page

Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Pro Bono Work Saves Peoples’ Homes in a Few Hours

Meet Olivia Jenq: A fixture with the Housing Negotiation Project


By Jason Luu, Volunteer Coordinator, VLSP


Since becoming a volunteer with BASF’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) in 2010, Olivia Jenq has quickly established herself as one of the organization’s most trusted volunteers. A familiar fixture at the limited-scope, courthouse-based Housing Negotiation Project (HNP), Jenq has helped many unrepresented tenants facing eviction in San Francisco county during their mandatory pre-trial settlement conferences. “In 3-4 hours in one afternoon, a low-income housing tenant with physical or mental disability can be saved from homelessness or a family fallen on hard times can keep their apartment by arrangement worked out with the landlord. No other pro bono work produces such gratifying result in so few hours,” Jenq notes.

Starting her career in the government and corporate worlds, Jenq has worked with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, GlaxoSmithKline, the World Bank, and the governments of Finland and Australia. But her passion for pro bono legal work stretches further back. As she explains, “[m]y personal experience of being overwhelmed by the complex legal system, as a layperson, after my father’s murder, as well as struggling as an immigrant with English as a foreign language, set me on a path to work with people who do not have a voice in the complex legal system.” After retirement, she has devoted her time to representing minors in the San Francisco Juvenile Court as well as working on family and landlord-tenant cases for indigent clients referred by VLSP and the Chinese community. “As an immigrant who made San Francisco my home many years ago, I find it personally and professionally rewarding, particularly in cases where English is a second language, to help my clients understand the legal process and navigate our complex system.”

Volunteer shifts for the Housing Negotiation Project are Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 12:30–4:30 p.m. Volunteering with this project is an excellent opportunity to get valuable negotiation experience and make an important difference in the community without a large time commitment. Volunteers must attend our free CLE training before volunteering for this project.


BASF Service Days

As part of her 2012 Service Days initiative, BASF President Kelly Dermody announced a series of five volunteer projects. On April 19, we invite you to sign up to volunteer for the Housing Negotiation Project Service Day. On this service day, volunteers will attend a free CLE training in the morning, and then be assigned a client in the afternoon for negotiation proceedings. To find more information and volunteer please email

Our partners at BASFAhern Insurance Brokerage