SAN FRANCISCO – Pillsbury, in partnership with the Justice & Diversity Center, recently hosted a free legal health checkup for San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits serving homelessness. Part of Pillsbury’s firmwide Homelessness Initiative Task Force, the clinic was the first of its kind for Pillsbury in San Francisco.

Held in Pillsbury’s San Francisco office on March 19, the pro bono clinic paired small, underfunded nonprofits with attorneys from Pillsbury to review mission-critical issues such as employment and human resources, corporate governance, tax reporting and compliance, trademarks and licensing, real estate, finance and fiscal management. During the event, a team of 12 Pillsbury attorneys worked with seven nonprofits, which collectively serve over 20,000 people in the Bay Area annually.

“The work done at this clinic is critical to these organizations’ success and survival, whether through financial guidance that improves a nonprofit’s long-term viability or a crisis averted by flagging a legal issue before it becomes a problem,” said Jay Lee, the Pro Bono Manager and Supervising Attorney at the Justice & Diversity Center.

“We see homeless people daily and in great numbers in many of the cities in which Pillsbury has offices, including San Francisco where it is estimated that one percent of the population is homeless. We are in a position to make a difference,” said Roxane Polidora, the managing partner of Pillsbury’s San Francisco office. “To that end, we seek to provide pro bono legal services where they will have the most impact.”

Pillsbury’s San Francisco office has a four-pronged approach to addressing the homelessness crisis in the Bay Area.

  • Eviction Defense: With eviction defense recognized as one of the most effective ways to fight homelessness, volunteer Pillsbury attorneys represent low-income tenants faced with eviction during pre-trial settlement conferences at the San Francisco Superior Court.
  • Project Homeless Connect: During this quarterly one-stop event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Pillsbury volunteers provide much-needed legal advice to homeless people on issues like housing, immigration, employment and bench warrants.
  • SSI/Government Benefits: Pillsbury volunteers work with JDC’s Homeless Advocacy Project to help the homeless or people at risk of homelessness obtain and keep their Supplemental Security Income or SSI.
  • Nonprofit Representation: Pillsbury works with JDC’s Community Organization Representation Project (CORP) to provide capacity-building legal assistance to nonprofits so that they can continue their work with the homeless.

Last year during the firm’s annual United Way campaign, and at the request of San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office, Pillsbury also encouraged its attorneys and staff to financially support Larkin Street Youth, the anchor institution for the mayor’s Rising Up campaign to address youth homelessness.

Pillsbury’s comprehensive approach to homelessness in San Francisco was developed in 2018 by a task force of staff and attorneys. The Task Force includes San Francisco managing partner Roxane A. Polidora, partner Blaine I. Green, partner Thomas V. Loran III, special counsel Anita D. Stearns Mayo, counsel Amber A. Ward, senior associate Colleen E. Lamarre, director of business development Jessica K. Slater, director of administration Miriam Ben-Natan, human resources manager Jeanne C. Freed, legal secretary Louellen Lawton, legal secretary Kathy Stout and senior facilities coordinator Elaine Suzuki.