ACVA Member Spotlight

Bay Area Legal Incubator

Last year, ACBA and VLSC launched the Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI) –a social-mission incubator community supporting attorneys building modest means solo practices. BALI is excited to report on the ways attorneys in our legal community are impacting communities that otherwise would have no access to legal counsel.

WookSun (Phil) Hong
BALI Attorney WookSun (Phil) Hong

BALI Attorney WookSun Hong joined BALI as part of our first cohort in January 2016. He practices in several areas, but housing has become a central part of his workload. While building a solo practice can be stressful, WookSun finds continued motivation and inspiration doing what’s right and helping others. He holds certain cases and clients close to his heart – getting to know the clients as he partners with individuals and communities to seek justice. WookSun is especially proud of two recent housing victories.

Affirmative Tenant Case

One case involved a very wealthy property owner with properties all around the Bay Area. WookSun took on an affirmative case, suing the owner for illegally evicting his client. The owner hired a big law firm. WookSun was up against a very experienced associate and one of the name partners of the firm – with many more resources at their disposal.

WookSun knew it was essential he stay in the case to get justice for his client, even though this is the kind of case that is often too big for solos. Nonprofits only help with eviction defense, and typically do not take on affirmative cases. This often leaves low and middle income clients unrepresented and gives no accountability for wealthy property owners. WookSun successfully helped this client to a satisfying conclusion to the matter!

Abuse of Owner Move-in Eviction

In the current housing crisis, no-fault evictions such as substantial repair and owner move-in are increasingly abused by landlords. This abuse allows landlords to get rid of tenants from rent-controlled units, and re-let the premises, replacing them at full market rate. In WookSun’s recent case, a client received an owner move-in notice from a new landlord who stated a family member was going to move in. The tenant moved out, but discovered the unit was still vacant after three months. WookSun worked with his client to develop strong evidence and settled the case in his client’s favor.

ACBA and BALI are honored to help support the development of WookSun’s practice and his work challenging the human impact of the housing crunch. Learn more about WookSun Hong at https://whlaw.legal.io.

Want to help make an impact?

BALI and ACBA are always looking for attorneys to co-counsel with, coach, refer cases to, and contract BALI attorneys. To get involved, contact BALI mentoring attorney Cynthia Chandler at cynthia@acbanet.org.