Good legal help can be extremely difficult to find. Most low and moderate income families are unable to get any help solving their legal problems. Not everyone benefits from the rights they are afforded by law, because they can’t afford to secure them. The goal of Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal (BHP CL) is to make civil legal aid a universal social resource in the area, one accessible to anyone in need of assistance regardless of income or social status. BHP CL serves just three zip codes in San Francisco (94124, 94134, and 94107) but these areas contain about 14% of people living under the poverty line in the city, creating a tremendous need for groups such as BHP CL who are dedicated to serving their community via the provision of free legal services.

To help fulfill Ad Astra’s pro bono pledge for its attorneys to provide at least 50 hours of free legal services each year, Ad Astra sent me to work with this inspiring and dedicated group of attorneys and staff for a few days to advance our intertwined goals. As an individual aspiring in law with a particular interest in pro bono and community service and a member of the greater SF community, I found the experience highly rewarding. Over the course of a few days, I assisted on a number of cases involving everything from business partnership disputes and contract violation, to custody matters and special education access. Given the rapidly changing housing climate in this area, BHP CL is also charged with innumerable landlord-tenant issues and upholding the rights of residents in the community. But my own perception of the complexity and diversity of the day-to-day matters this team tackles barely scratches the surface. Because of this, the BHP CL team has built an invaluable network of attorneys and volunteers–of which Ad Astra is proud to play a part–whose time and expertise are central to realizing their mission and asserting the civil rights of their clients and community members.