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Free Legal Aid in Oakland

Last updated: October 24, 2013

Some people like crossing the bridge and heading into the City, but when you need legal help that might be the last thing you want to do. Toll Crossings, BART strikes, and cloudy weather . . . No thanks! Stay on the sunny side of the bay if you can.

Northern California has several high quality law schools. Many of their successful graduates offer free or low-cost services in Oakland and other East Bay communities. Whether you live in Oakland, Alameda, Fremont, West Contra Costa, or anywhere in between, there are probably services in your neighborhood committed to helping people with low incomes or who have other limitations. These services are a short BART or AC Transit ride away.

East Bay County Bar Associations

  • Alameda County Bar Association

    Volunteer Legal Service Corporation ("VLSC")
    Tel: (510) 302-2222

    VLSC offers both (1) referrals to pro bono attorneys and (2) free legal clinics to individuals with low incomes. Call the intake number M-F between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM. VLSC has a network of pro bono attorneys to help with immigration, bankruptcy, landlord-tenant, family law, and other legal issues. For more details, see the organization's brochure. The clinics are designed to help individuals who are representing themselves in various areas of law. Clinics typically cover, debt collection defense, bankruptcy, dissolution of marriage, and guardianship, in addition to the matters covered in the referral program.

  • Contra Costa County Bar Association

    One Concord Center
    2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520

    CA 94520

    Tel: (925) 686-6900

    This group of lawyers offers self-help resources and a referral service. The bar association's website features a directory on where to find information on government websites, and where to complain if you have a problem. The CCCBA site also features short videos to help individuals handle their legal issues. The referral service includes contacts with attorneys who have agreed to reduce their fees for Contra Costa residents with lower incomes.

East Bay Courts

  • Superior Court, County of Alameda, Self-Help and Family Law Facilitator Centers (3 locations)

    Rene C. Davidson Courthouse
    1225 Fallon Street, Room 250

    CA 94612

    Tel: (510) 272-1393

    Call M-Th, between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM only. These are the only times that the center can answer calls and accept messages. The centers offer instructions, books, and referrals to help visitors with many areas of law. Click the above link for a complete list of legal topics, office hours, and a schedule of free workshops and clinics. The other two self-help locations are found at:

    Alameda County Office Building
    224 W. Winton, Room 179
    Hayward, CA 94544

    George E. McDonald Hall of Justice
    2233 Shoreline Drive, 1st Floor
    Alameda, CA 94501

Other Legal Service Providers

  • East Bay Community Law Center

    2921 Adeline Street
    CA 94703

    Tel: (510) 548-4040

    The East Bay Community Law Center provides multiple forms of assistance. The Housing, Immigration, Youth Defender Clinic and Welfare Advocacy & Policy practice groups offer direct representation to clients in various legal proceedings. Other practice groups offer advice and identify other forms of assistance. Many services are also available en Espanol or with the assistance of an interpreter. The office is on Adeline Street and Ashby Avenue, walking distance from the Ashby BART station.

  • Bay Area Legal Aid

    ("Bay Legal," available in Alameda, Contra Costa, and other Bay Area counties)
    Tel: (800) 551-5554

    Bay Legal offers a wide range of services including advice, counseling, and representation. Attorneys and staff work in many different areas of law including housing, consumer law, immigration, domestic violence, and more.

  • Alameda County Office

    1735 Telegraph Avenue
    CA 94612

    Tel: (510) 663-4744

    This office is located within walking distance from the 19th Street BART station. If you plan on driving, there is not much street parking available. Visitors can usually find an un-"occupied" parking space in the structure at the Frank Ogawa Plaza.

  • Contra Costa County Office

    1025 MacDonald Avenue
    CA 94801

    Tel: (510) 250-5270

    Remote sites in East County serve the residents of the Antioch, Concord, and Pittsburg communities. Call the Richmond office for more information.

  • Centro Legal de la Raza

    3022 International Blvd.
    Suite 410

    CA 94601

    Tel: (510) 437-1554

    Centro Legal helps individuals with landlord-tenant, employment, immigration, and other issues. The organization also has a referral service to direct clients to Spanish-speaking attorneys.

  • Family Violence Law Center ("FVLC")

    470 27th Street
    CA 94612

    Tel: (800) 947-8301 (24-Hour Crisis Line)

    FVLC offers attorney services for domestic violence victims who reside in Alameda County. The organization gives referrals for free assistance to residents from other locations. The staff works to obtain restraining orders, custody, and provide help with other matters related to abuse. The office is on 27th Street between Broadway and Telegraph. The AC Transit #1 and #51 stop nearby.

  • Homeless Action Center (Two Locations)

    1432 Franklin Street
    CA 94612

    Tel: (510) 836-3260 ext. 301

    HAC helps clients with issues related to public benefits (SSI, SSDI, Medical, etc.). The organization serves the low-income and disabled populations in and around Berkeley and Oakland. Call or drop-in. The Berkeley office is located at:

    3126 Shattuck Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94705
    (510) 540-0878

  • Legal Assistance for Seniors (LAS)

    1970 Broadway
    Suite 300

    CA 94612

    Tel: (510) 832-3040

    LAS serves elderly residents from all over Alameda County. The main office is in downtown Oakland, but the organization operates from senior centers in Alameda, Fremont, Hayward, and Pleasanton. The staff provides help with elder abuse, guardianship, health benefits, and more.

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