Frequently Asked Questions

What is Legal Access Alameda?

Legal Access Alameda, formerly known as the Volunteer Legal Service Corporation, is the pro bono arm of the Alameda County Bar Association. Legal Access provides free legal services to low-income people in Alameda County.

How can I help?

Legal Access  seeks legal volunteers to volunteer at pro per clinics. Volunteer opportunities:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Family Law
  • Guardianship
  • Low-Income Landlord Unlawful Detainer Assistance
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • All practice areas: drop-in Saturday legal clinic (CLASP)

Why Volunteer with Legal Access?

If you are a newer attorney, you can gain valuable experience, and volunteer with more experienced attorneys. If you are a more seasoned attorney, in addition to helping clients, you can help guide the next generation of volunteers by serving as a supervising volunteer. Either way, you’ll hone your skills and enjoy the feeling of making a real difference in the life of someone needing help.

How do I sign up?

Contact: Amarilis Medrano, Clinics and Volunteer Coordinator  ·  ·  510-302-2219

Click here to print our Legal Access Volunteer and Clinic Information 2019 sheet.

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More Questions

How can I be sure I am getting a client who really needs me?

We screen each client to establish that his or her income and resources are within our eligibility guidelines. Our staff also completes a thorough intake regarding the client’s legal matter.

What resources are available to me?

Legal Access provides live trainings, recorded trainings, and written materials to volunteers. Volunteers are also covered by Legal Access’ errors and omissions insurance for all pro bono work performed through Legal Access Alameda.

Can I volunteer on the weekend?

Yes! Legal Access has launched a new monthly clinic: CLASP (Community Legal Assistance Saturday Program) that will give anyone who walks in a chance to meet with an attorney in almost every legal field, and receive a 15-20 minute consultation. 

We need volunteer attorneys with experience and knowledge in a wide spectrum of areas of law, including family, criminal, immigration, housing, employment, consumer, bankruptcy, personal injury, estates/probate, business, and real estate. You should have 2-3 years of experience in that field.

Volunteer attorneys are asked to commit to being available to meet with clients from 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. This clinic is based on one that Tiela Chalmers, our CEO, ran successfully for many years in San Francisco, and that was able to provide real help, particularly for those who were not sure where to turn, or what their next step might be. 

Give back on the weekend

The clinic will take place on the first Saturday of each month and will be held at the Alameda County Law Library, 125 12th Street in Oakland (across from the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, and three blocks from the Lake Merritt BART station). Street parking is usually available. More operational details are below.

Flexible scheduling

This is an excellent opportunity to make an outsized difference. You can sign up to volunteer every month, or just on Saturdays that work for you. If you are interested in volunteering with the clinic or would like more information, please contact Christina Wiellette at (510) 302-2216, or We hope you will consider volunteering with us.

Operational Details

Volunteer law students and paralegals will conduct client intake that Tiela will use to determine in which area of law the person’s question falls. The clients will sign a limited scope retainer agreement, indicating that the attorney-client relationship formed so that they might get brief advice will end that day. This type of agreement has been approved by the State Bar of California. Volunteers will be covered by Legal Access’ professional liability insurance for their pro bono work at the clinic that day. We also hope to have social workers present to offer referrals.

Conflicts: California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-650 requires only that you avoid conflicts that you recognize at the time. If you know that you have represented ABC Company, and a client at the clinic presents with a desire to sue ABC, then you need to hand the matter back to Tiela, who will reassign it. But you do not have to check the opposing party against your conflicts database.

Please note that this is not an opportunity to get client referrals. In order to avoid any suggestion of solicitation, volunteer attorneys are identified by their first names only, and never solicit a client’s business. If the client needs further help, he or she is referred to a legal services provider or to the Lawyer Referral Service (which we encourage you to join!) This protects both you and Legal Access.

Do I have to be an attorney to help?

There are limited opportunities for paralegals, legal document assistants, and interpreters. Please contact us for more information.

I can’t volunteer, but I still want to help. What can I do?

Make a donation! Your tax-deductible contribution helps Legal Access bridge the justice gap in Alameda County.

You can give on our secure website or by contacting:
William Strom, Events and Development Coordinator  · ·  510-302-2209