All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. is a nonprofit legal clinic established for the specific purpose of providing free or low cost legal assistance to the San Francisco Bay Area community, with a focus on family law services. Founded by Pamela Ross in 2012 in response to growing gap between communities qualifying for traditional legal aid and communities that can afford to hire a private attorney, All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. provides sliding scale legal services based on family income and size. Clients pay fees well below the cost of a typical private family law attorney.
All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. employs three attorneys – Pamela Ross; Hazel Bradshaw; and Lisi Munayco – who provide free legal assistance through the ACBA Volunteer Legal Services Corporation’s clinics and Family Law Day of Court program, on top of their work at their organization. These attorneys staff have inspired countless attorneys and clients alike, developing a widespread professional reputation in family law and for responding holistically to the needs of families in crisis.
Join us on January 26th to honor All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. as our recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for Law Firm at our annual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Dinner.
Founder Pamela Ross sat down with us to answer a few questions
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I don’t remember not wanting to be a lawyer. I remember being a little kid and putting a paper name plate on my desk that said “Pamela Ross, Attorney at Law”. I received a LSAT prep book as a gift when I was ten years old. Even when I was considering other careers they were always looked at as something I would do either with a law degree or while I was in law school.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
The only other careers that I ever considered were: Newspaper Journalist at the Oakland Tribune; CNN News Anchor (I was planning on being the next Christiane Amanpour); or being a High School Teacher, teaching History, English, and Journalism.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
Do not work 24/7. We have such a high burn out rate in law; this is especially true in non-profit work. In most cases, no one will die if you don’t answer the phone at 9:00pm or don’t answer that email at midnight. We all do it at times, but if you do it all of the time, your clients start to expect it, instead of appreciating it.
What is the biggest challenge facing your firm today?
We are a self funded 501(c)3 nonprofit. We have been open for almost 5 years and during that time we have not received any grants. The goal when we opened was to function that way and we have been incredibly successful in the sliding scale (low bono) side of our business, but because we are self funded it limits the probono services that we can provide. If we were to obtain a large grant we would likely utilize it to have a dedicated restraining order attorney and to provide walk-in clinics similar to those monthly clinics done by VLSC.
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
It sounds cliché, but making a difference in people’s lives. Since we focus on family law we work mostly on custody, divorce, and restraining orders. This means we are helping people navigate through some of the most difficult times of their lives.
What is your dream vacation?
That changes by the day… Greece, Bali, Peru… there are not many places that I would not go. My favorite trip so far has been Guatemala; the Mayan pyramids in Tikal were amazing and I enjoyed everything about Antigua and Flores.
What are you reading now?
I laughed when I read this question, because I felt like my answer was very telling about my personality. I am usually reading about three books at a time:
- A self-help for me – I am currently re-reading, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea.
- A self-help for my daughter – Right now, I am reading a book about modernizing Shabbat dinner so that it appeals to your children, with the goal being for them to choose Shabbat dinner over going out with their friends when they are teenagers.
- A fiction book – I am currently obsessed with Rysa Walker’s Timebound series. It is a time travel series and she put a lot of research into the series to make the events that take place in the past fairly historically accurate.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
My husband and I started dating at 15 years old and we got married the day after my husband’s 18th birthday. He was still a Senior in High School and I was in my first semester of college (we are the same age, but we were in different grades). Because of this, I planned our lives down to the detail, including having our daughter a week after graduating from law school.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
I have always had an odd fascination with Abraham Lincoln. Between 3rd and 8th grade I was obsessed with him. I still have the book, Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freedman in my home office. I wish I could remember even a tenth of what I used to know about President Lincoln.
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
Truthfully I joined for primarily selfish reasons. I joined the year I founded All for the Family Legal Clinic and my goal was to get the word out about our nonprofit to the legal community and also to find a group of other attorneys that I could bounce ideas off of or ask questions when needed. When I joined ACBA, I also joined the Family Law Executive Committee and that helped me easily accomplish those goals. There have been nothing but benefits to my membership!
Join us on January 26th to honor All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. and the rest of the Distinguished Service Award recipients at the ACBA’s annual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Dinner.
Mingle with your colleagues and enjoy a delicious dinner, catered by Scott’s Seafood, during the awards ceremony. We are pleased to announce David J. Kelly, General Counsel & Vice President of Basketball Management and Strategy for the Bay Area’s own Golden State Warriors, as this year’s featured speaker.