The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) happily spotlights our Volunteer of the Month, Frederick Craw, who has been volunteering at JDC’s free Legal Advice and Referral Clinics (LARC) for 32 years because he believes that practicing law is a privilege, and “all attorneys should put something back into the community.”
Craw began volunteering at LARC in 1982, when the clinic was held in the building that then housed San Francisco’s Main Library, and now the Asian Art Museum. He has been a constant at LARC ever since, and at JDC’s free legal clinic at Project Homeless Connect. Craw serves JDC’s clients with the expertise gained from his practice, which focuses on Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and disability claims and appeals, as well as city retirement law, with a special emphasis on disability claims.
Craw finds his private practice worthwhile because he helps people in need who are very appreciative, but the work is mostly regular and controllable, allowing him to “have a life.” He enjoys helping people at LARC who are in similar situations as his clients, and appreciates that JDC makes it easy to give back as he should because he doesn’t have to search for pro bono opportunities.
Craw says most of his clients at LARC look frightened and confused, bring papers they don’t understand, and don’t know their legal rights. He finds it rewarding to explain that they can do something, or refer them to helpful resources, “seeing their bodies change in degrees as they sit up straighter, then get a glimmer in their eyes.” He notes that even as an attorney, getting a letter from the government causes anxiety, so he can only imagine how someone without legal knowledge feels receiving a similar letter. Craw does his best to find ways to help his LARC clients, telling each one to do something specific, then if it doesn’t work, to make sure to come back. According to Craw, “There’s never a time a lawyer can do nothing for a client.”
Along with serving at LARC, Craw offers his expertise to JDC’s Homeless Advocacy Project staff handling difficult Social Security and Supplemental Security Income cases.
Born in Detroit and raised in Los Angeles, Craw has lived in San Francisco for 47 years. He considers the city to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, with inclusive and considerate people. He asks, in a place like San Francisco, “How can you help but want to be good and do good?” Craw and his wife attend the opera regularly, and enjoy hiking, bicycling and skiing in Truckee and Yosemite on weekends.
To learn how you can use your legal skills to serve low-income communities, visit www.sfbar.org/jdc.