Shelter Clinic Provides Legal Services to Homeless

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The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) thanks the attorney and law student volunteers of the Shelter Clinic, a project directed by JDC’s Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) attorneys Laura Chiera and Elinor Roberts. This project involves a close partnership between HAP, attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and law students from UC Hastings.

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From left, Andrew Garrett (UC Hastings), Laura Chiera (HAP), Nancy Stuart (UC Hastings), Alexia Arocha (UC Hastings), Elinor Roberts (HAP), Jacob Bothamley (UC Hastings)

Each week, one or more attorneys from Orrick, along with anywhere from 5 to 15 UC Hastings students, staff a drop-in legal clinic at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter, MSC South (the Shelter), run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In 2015, Orrick attorneys and UC Hastings students conducted over 302 intakes and referrals in all areas of the law for both residents and drop-in clients of the shelter.

Teams of attorneys and law students then take on full-scope cases for clients facing outstanding warrants, working to clear what can be enormous obstacles for clients to accessing housing, employment, and government benefits.

The team of Orrick attorneys, UC Hastings students and HAP attorneys served 350 in 2015, and Orrick and UC Hastings volunteers took on 23 full-scope warrants cases.

With approximately 7,500 homeless people in San Francisco, and 3,000 living in shelters, the Shelter Project provides a crucial service connecting those in need with experienced legal guidance and assistance with challenging legal obstacles such as warrants. The Shelter Project is especially valuable for its volunteers as it gives attorneys from Orrick a chance to mentor law students, who in turn gain valuable experience in interviewing skills, legal issue spotting, and working with attorneys.

The Shelter Clinic volunteers work to improve the lives of their clients with compassion and diligence.

Learn about JDC’s Pro Bono Legal Services volunteer opportunities at www.sfbar.org/volunteer.