A note from our Executive Director

Categories: eNewsletter Story, Executive Director blog, Homepage, News

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, I celebrated my 6th anniversary as the Executive Director. Working with our dedicated team of expert advocates across the Bay Area is a privilege. They are deeply committed to addressing poverty and discrimination, working alongside clients daily to improve individual lives and society as a whole. 2024 is also BayLegal’s 25th year as a regional anti-poverty social justice firm. I joined BayLegal just after it formed through the merger of separate county non-profits, and I have been able to witness and be part of our tremendous and ongoing evolution to provide the most impactful legal services we can.

Since BayLegal formed as a regional firm, we have focused on remaining rooted in our local communities and leveraging our regional capacity and expertise to best serve them. The heart of our work is working with individuals and families. From our individual advocacy, we see firsthand patterns of legal violations and barriers that are ripe for broader advocacy and litigation to bring systemic change. Our lawsuit against ASI and success getting a statewide injunction protecting low-income Californians from predatory junk debt collectors and “sewer service” default judgments is a great example of BayLegal’s impact from individual advocacy to systemic change. It started with one individual who came to our Consumer Debt legal clinic because of a lien and debt judgment he did not know about. BayLegal attorneys uncovered thousands of similar cases of default judgments obtained without the low-income individuals’ knowledge. BayLegal is both the plaintiff and part of the team of lawyers bringing this case because the defendants’ unlawful behavior harmed our clients while also forcing BayLegal to divert resources to address their unlawful behavior. I encourage you to read more about ASI’s brazen and pervasive unlawful behavior that would have deprived low-income Californians of millions of dollars of hard-earned money if BayLegal and co-counsel had not brought the case and been successful.

As legal needs continue to grow, we continue to triage our limited resources to reach as many people as possible and have the greatest impact. I am excited to announce that in Contra Costa County we have a new dedicated Tenants’ Rights hotline for renters with housing legal issues, and we have expanded legal clinics for in-person housing and domestic violence restraining orders. And as our attorneys and advocates continue to work with individuals through these and other community-based programs, we are excited that our new Director of Litigation, Brenda Adams, will be partnering with them to bring impact litigation to address systemic issues. I hope you will read more about Brenda and our new services in this month’s eNewsletter.

Thank you for your partnership—whether as a donor, a volunteer, a community partner, or friend—in sharing and amplifying our message about the importance of legal aid.

In Partnership,