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Justice & Diversity Center: Legal Services Program Volunteering

Volunteer Opportunities for Non Attorneys

 

The Justice & Diversity Center utilizes volunteer attorneys, law students, social workers and other non-attorney professionals including interpreters and psychologists who are supported by JDC staff attorneys and social workers. JDC offers training in most of its pro bono projects, and offers pro bono opportunities in both litigation and transactional law.

To volunteer with one of our projects, please send an email to probono@sfbar.org indicating which project(s) you are interested in. For any other questions, please visit our Contact page.

  1. Consumer Project
  2. Legal Advice and Referral Clinic
  3. Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP)
  4. Interpreter Project
  5. Social Services
  6. Medical-Legal Project

1. Consumer Project

The Consumer Project uses law students, paralegals and non-attorney volunteers for its Consumer Debt Defense and Education Clinic (CDDEC). The CDDEC is a semi-monthly clinic held on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

At the Clinic, volunteers will assist attorneys with drafting cease and desist letters to creditors, answers, fee waiver applications, responses to discovery, motions for summary judgment, demands for bills of particulars, claims of exemption, proposed orders, and proofs of service. The volunteers will also perform legal research on-site as needed and help manage the Clinic and communications with the clients. Depending on the flow of the clinic, volunteers will likely also be able to sit in on client consultations. 

As the Clinic develops, volunteers may be able to attend hearings and/or trials with attorneys who have agreed to take on full-scope representations. This is an excellent way to become familiar with basic litigation practices, documents, procedures, and strategies with a limited commitment. All volunteers must attend a one-hour training session prior to volunteering for the clinic.

2. Legal Advice and Referral Clinic

The Legal Advice and Referral Clinic (LARC) is a walk-in clinic that occurs on the second Saturday of each month at our Downtown San Francisco location (UC Hastings), and on the last Saturday of each month at our Bayview location in San Francisco. At these clinics, low-income clients are able to receive legal advice and/or referrals from experienced attorneys in various areas of the law.

 LARC is staffed in part by volunteers who primarily conduct client intakes to determine in what area(s) of law people want advice.  The clients are then able to sit with our experienced volunteer attorneys, and receive advice and/or referrals based on their issue. Volunteers who are bilingual (especially in English and either Spanish, Mandarin, or Cantonese) are also needed at LARC to interpret for clients and attorneys.

3. Homeless Advocacy Project

The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) assists individuals or families who are homeless or at serious risk of becoming homeless. The primary areas of service given at HAP are Eviction Defense, SSI Advocacy, and Social Service assistance. Those interested in volunteering at HAP must meet the following criteria in order to be a good fit for this project:

  • Must have a flexible schedule during business hours in order to volunteer at HAP’s office, 1360 Mission Street
  • Must also have an interest in serving homeless individuals and those suffering from mental health illness

For more information about this project, please visit the HAP website pages.

4. Interpreter Project

JDC connects volunteer attorneys with low-income clients who are in need of legal representation.  We serve a linguistically diverse population.  Our monolingual clients need interpreters to help communicate with attorneys in depositions, at trial, and in the completion of paperwork.  Your language skills are critical in helping these clients receive essential legal assistance.

Volunteering with JDC provides the opportunity to work under the direction of a volunteer attorney as well as with opposing counsel. 

For beginning interpreters this is an opportunity to have first hand experience as a legal interpreter.  If you are a seasoned interpreter your skills will ensure that our low-income, monolingual clients have access to legal counsel. 

Our clients come to us with different types of legal issues. Most clients are being evicted or need help with a family law matter. For those clients who qualify, we offer pro bono attorneys as well as social workers and therapists.

Once you attend our free Interpreter Project training, we will add you to our volunteer panel based on the language you speak. Email probono@sfbar.org to sign up for the training. Once you are on our panel, you will begin receiving emails of available opportunities for your specific language. Interpreters are free to choose the cases that match their interest and time availability.

Volunteers who speak Spanish, Cantonese, and/or Mandarin are also needed to volunteer at our Legal Advice and Referral Clinic.

5. Social Services

Through JDC’s holistic model, social service staff come together with attorneys to address the clients’ legal as well as underlying psychosocial needs. The clients that JDC serve suffer from such issues as health related problems, poverty, mental illness and addiction. Often these non-legal issues are the most debilitating and must be addressed first, before the client can make effective use of the legal help offered. The social service staff at JDC consists of The Director of Social Services, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California, one full time Bachelor’s Level Social Worker and several volunteer staff, including, but not limited to MSW Interns, BASW Interns, Jesuit Volunteers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychiatrists and Psychologists.  Following the initial legal assessment, an attorney will refer the client to the Social Services Department where he or she will be linked up with a staff or volunteer who will either provide direct service and/or make any necessary referrals. We provide follow-up as well to ensure that clients have been successfully linked to services. 

6. Medical Legal

The Medical-Legal Project is the newest component of JDC’s Community Lawyering Project, which brings legal services to San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point. The area is populated by some of the city's most vulnerable - predominately low-income people living in an underserved and geographically isolated area.   JDC strives to address the tremendous legal need in the Bayview with this innovative Medical-Legal Project. 

By partnering with the Southeast Health Center (SEHC), JDC staff and volunteers provide patients with the legal services needed to ameliorate issues that adversely impact patients’ health, safety and overall well-being.  SEHC’s staff of doctors, nurses, social workers and counselors actively participate in the project which sees a diversity of legal issues including housing rights, eviction defense, public benefits advocacy (SSI, Medi-Cal, and Medicare), consumer and probate matters.

JDC's Supervising Attorney conducts weekly on-site legal intakes at SEHC and welcomes all volunteers who are interested in working with this population. Those with experience in the relevant areas of law are especially encouraged to volunteer. Participation in JDC's Medical-Legal Project offers a unique opportunity to focus your volunteer work in a dynamic community with deep legal need and a supportive interdisciplinary team.