Happy New Year and Welcome to Legal Aid of Napa Valley!

January 1, 2016 — Happy new year and welcome to the staff and stakeholders of the former Legal Aid of Napa Valley! Our union is official and we are pleased that Legal Aid of Napa Valley has formally joined Bay Area Legal Aid. We have long shared a commitment to equal justice, legal excellence, diversity, and pro bono, and we are thrilled to expand legal services for low-income Napa County residents. Together, we will continue that commitment and build new partnerships that transform the lives of our clients. 

Our deepest thanks to Craig Miller and Jeff Nguyen of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, who represented Bay Area Legal Aid on a pro bono basis, and to Michael Holman of Holman Teague Roche Anglin LLP for his pro bono representation of Legal Aid of Napa Valley. And most importantly, our profound gratitude to the staff, board members, funders, and stakeholders of Legal Aid of Napa Valley. It is your vision for a healthy Napa community that has made this union possible.

Cheers to a brilliant 2016!

— the staff and board of Bay Area Legal Aid

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Legal Aid of Napa Valley to Merge with BayLegal

Legal Aid of Napa Valley to join Bay Area Legal Aid – merger will expand legal services for low-income Napa County residents.

November 11, 2015 — Bay Area Legal Aid and Legal Aid of Napa Valley have entered into a definitive agreement to effect a merger of the two organizations, effective December 31, 2015.

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Honoring and Helping Our Veterans

November 11, 2015  —  At BayLegal, we encounter our military heroes years or even decades after they have fulfilled their service to our country. They often come to us seeking help with numerous legal issues after years of struggling with the psychological and physiological wounds of war. People are resilient, but the true cost of battle may not be revealed until decades after a war ends.

BayLegal is proud of the work our attorneys do to assist Veterans in our community. This year, we have had the honor of providing wraparound legal services to local Veterans on over 300 legal matters, ranging from public benefits (Veterans Benefits, SSI/SSDI, General Assistance, food stamps, etc.), housing preservation, consumer issues, health care access, and domestic violence prevention. For instance, this year BayLegal attorneys were able to help a disabled Veteran in San José fight an unfair eviction and remedy habitability issues in his residence. BayLegal helped this same soldier remove a financially crippling Veterans’ Affairs over-payment from his record, so that he has the financial stability to move forward with his life.

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BayLegal & Rocket Lawyer Legal Aid Pilot Program

BayLegal & Rocket Lawyer

November 3, 2015 – To further its mission to increase access to justice, BayLegal is collaborating with Rocket Lawyer –  a legal technology company that offers a cloud-based platform connecting millions to legal help – to develop a pilot legal assistance program. Through this project, BayLegal’s attorneys will be trained on Rocket lawyer’s online platform, exploring innovative solutions to help low-income clients find the legal help they need.  We are excited to work with Rocket Lawyer, a company that strives to make the law more affordable by providing legal services at a fraction of the traditional cost of an attorney. Together, BayLegal and Rocket  Lawyer will explore ways to transform legal services for our clients, and to serve more of our community members who are in desperate need of civil legal services.

The pilot program launches today. Read more about it here.

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 30, 20National DV Awareness Month15– As National Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, we stand in remembrance of all the lives taken by domestic violence. Today, Alameda County honored the lives lost due to domestic violence. Thank you, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Alameda County Family Justice Center, for shining a light on ending domestic violence.

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week

October 26, 2015—Bay Area Legal Aid celebrates our phenomenal pro bono lawyers, law firms, volunteers, and law clerks during National Celebrate Pro Bono week. Thank you for making a difference in our clients’ lives!
Pro Bono Thank you

BayLegal Youth Attorney Receives Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award

Photo (L-R): Judge Myron H. Thompson, National Public Service Award Recipient; M. Elizabeth Magill, Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School; Brian Blalock, BayLegal Youth Attorney and Director of Youth Justice Project. photography by Christine Baker

Photo (L-R): Judge Myron H. Thompson, National Public Service Award Recipient; M. Elizabeth Magill, Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School; Brian Blalock, Director of BayLegal Youth Justice Project.           Photography by Christine Baker

Congratulations to Brian Blalock, BayLegal attorney and founder of our Youth Justice Project, on receiving the 2015 Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award from Stanford Law School.  The Rubin Award is given annually to a Stanford Law School alumnus who has made a significant impact on the community through their engagement in public service.

Brian originally started at BayLegal as a Skadden Fellow, where he founded the Youth Justice Project (YJP). Now as the Director of YJP at BayLegal, Brian works to connect homeless young adults to appropriate systems and services, while providing comprehensive wrap-around civil legal services to youth in the dependency or delinquency system. The project also has a number of focused initiatives working with trafficked and LGBT youth.

As a Youth Law attorney, Brian has worked tirelessly on behalf of foster care youth, delinquency-involved youth, homeless youth, sexually exploited minors, and youth with mental health issues. Through the Youth Justice Project, he has worked on a number of systemic issues including: the statewide implementation of extended foster care, funding and services parity for delinquency-involved foster youth, and better supports for relative caregivers. With Brian’s innovative leadership, the Youth Justice Program at BayLegal has established its critical presence in the community, creating a strong civil legal support network for at-risk youth throughout the Bay Area.

Thank you for your amazing work, Brian! We are proud to have you on our team.

Read more about BayLegal’s Youth Justice Project

Attend an event to hear Brian speak about his Youth Justice work

BayLegal Assisting Valley Fire & Butte Fire Victims

BayLegal has joined forces with FEMA and other agencies to establish a toll-free number for victims of the Valley Fire in Lake County and the Butte Fire in Calaveras County to request legal assistance.

The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer, is a partnership between the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD), Bay Area Legal Aid, Northern California Lawyer Access, Legal Services of Northern California, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Disaster survivors facing legal issues who are unable to afford a lawyer can call the hotline (1-844-657-0479) for assistance, or visit the Disaster Recovery Centers in their area for more information.

The type of legal assistance available includes:
• Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster victims
• Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims
• Help with home repair contracts and contractors
• Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster
• Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
• Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
• Counseling on landlord-tenant problems

Full press release

BayLegal Board Member Arlene Hipp Shares Her Story

Arlene Hipp, Alex Gulotta, Robert Grey

Photo (L-R): Robert Grey, LSC Board Member;  Arlene Hipp, BayLegal Board Member; Alex Gulotta, BayLegal Executive Director.

October 6, 2015 — Board member Arlene Hipp spoke to distinguished members of the Legal Service Corporation’s Board of Directors during the agency’s recent meeting in San Francisco.

On behalf of BayLegal’s clients, Arlene shared her personal story. In her speech, Arlene discussed how hard working Americans can do everything right — go to school, get a good job, work hard — and then have it all taken away due to factors beyond your control. She testified to how legal aid can save a person’s life, and why she supports BayLegal.

Thank you, Arlene!


Thank You, Covington & Burling LLP!

Cuvington LSC Award

October 5, 2015– The Legal Service Corporation Board of Directors presented its Pro Bono Service Award to Covington & Burling LLP, for its longstanding commitment to supporting economically disadvantaged individuals and families through pro bono work with Bay Area Legal Aid. BayLegal is grateful for Covington’s partnership, dedication, and commitment to improving the lives of our clients. Congratulations and thank you Covington & Burling!

Read the full list of honorees this year. 

New Skadden Fellow Joins BayLegal

Sheela Ramesh, a recentRamesh Headshot graduate of Yale Law School, was selected as a Skadden Fellow, a highly competitive two year fellowship that funds law students to work for nonprofit organizations in the public interest. This fall, Sheela joined the Bay Area Legal Aid team in Oakland, providing assistance to sexually exploited youth.

BayLegal is thrilled to sponsor Sheela Ramesh to join us in our Youth Justice Project; a project that will provide comprehensive, direct civil legal services to and systemic advocacy on behalf of commercially sexually exploited youth and those most at risk of exploitation in the Bay Area. Services will facilitate access to legal entitlements such as physical and mental healthcare, education, cash/food assistance, safe housing, and supportive social services.

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California Ticket Amnesty Law in Effect

4543027041_88d4a4d290_o-881x563At least 300,000 Bay Area residents could be eligible for help under a California law that went into effect this Thursday Oct 1st, to cut old ticket fines and reinstate lost driver’s licenses. The state is allowing certain income-dependent reductions, ranging from 50 to 80 percent, on fines issued before Jan. 1, 2013.

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