The People’s Legal Center
Table of Contents
Problem Statement ………...……………………………………………………3
Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes ……………………………………………..3
Programs and Services………………………………………………………… 5
The need for professional legal representation is universally, both in San Francisco and in
U.S. in general. Without the benefit of a professional attorney, their right to justice
guaranteed to them in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence is
compromised. The People’s Legal Center provides professional quality legal counseling and
representation to those individuals in the city and county of San Francisco who cannot
afford them. The People’s Legal Center believes that the assistance of professional attorneys
is an essential component of the legal process. In addition, the People’s Legal Center
believes that it is highly important that all the citizens of San Francisco be educated to
understand their legal rights and the nature of litigation in the United States of America.
The People’s Legal Center is a newly registered 501 (c) 3 organization seeking $XX, XXX to
help establish itself and fund its programs.
To empower under-represented individuals through the care of their legal situation and to
encourage access to legal knowledge and active involvement in the judicial process for
The People’s Legal Center will house a law office that specializes in various areas of law.
The key personnel will be Ms. Maria Lourdes S. Nocedal and Partners. Ms. Nocedal offers
three years of law practice as a certified legal secretary/paralegal, six years of social
service/nonprofit work, two years of teaching experience and an extensive network in the
legal, nonprofit, and education communities. She is also a court appointed Commissioner
for the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) and a credentialed Educator for
The success of the organization depends on the ability of the staff to communicate ongoing
issues and solutions efficiently. Thus, the Executive Director will coordinate monthly or,
when necessary, weekly staff meetings to ensure a successful path towards the Center's goals
and objectives. Meeting agendas are sent out to all staff members prior to the meeting in
order to encourage both input and preparation. Separate meetings are also conducted
between the Lawyers, Executive Director, and Board of Directors to address higher-level
matters and resolutions.
The Office Manger/Accountant coordinates and maintains economic functions for the
Legal Center. Other duties include tracking daily costs, posting entries/invoices for lawyer's
clients, facilitating bi-weekly payroll, and weekly deposits. Other key priorities include the
preparation of monthly financial statements, end of the year tax statements, and working
with the Executive Director for the Legal Center’s end of the year report for Funders and
community members in total.
The staff of the People’s Legal Center will consist of the following personnel:
Ten Board of Directors IT Technician
Executive Director Receptionist
Office Website Designer
Manager/Accountant Three Case Managers
Grant Writer Three workshop
Three Attorneys Educators/Facilitators
Three Paralegals (stipend paid)
Two Program Managers Volunteers
Startup crew will consist of Maria Lourdes Nocedal, Jose Rich Bondoc, Jerome Palencia,
and Boris Jovanovic under the advice and supervision of the Board of Directors.
Throughout the legal court system in the U.S., unrepresented litigants not only are liable to
receive unfair due process of the law but also obstruct the legal process for all parties
concerned. As Howard M. Rubin said in his article concerning unrepresented litigants:
Any person has a right to represent himself or herself in a civil action. This basic right has
created an ordeal in the courts arising from the statement, “I wish to represent myself.” From
this point on, the adversary system, upon which civil procedure rules are based is out of
synchronization. The judge is faced with the task of balancing fundamental fairness and order
in the proceedings. The pro se litigant must struggle with how to present his or her case. The
opposing attorney must protect and advocate his or her client’s interest, while meeting the
legal obligation to bring the truth to the court’s attention. Further, the party represented by
counsel, having a right to demand vigorous representation, must cope with escalating legal
costs because of numerous delays. (Langan, 838)
This crisis lack of representation undermines everyone’s right to justice in the legal system.
This represents a huge crisis in the court system. The California Judicial Council Task
Force on Self Represented Litigants estimated that over 4.3 million unrepresented litigants
use the California court system. Furthermore, in the big cities in California and New York
70% to 90% of represented litigants go to court facing abuse or loss of a home. (O’Leary, 1)
In another study, it was estimated that unrepresented litigants in family court averaged
around in 67%. (Rose, 47)
Lack of representation may lead to legal and moral abuse. Many litigants may not be aware
that they’re missing essential information concerning their case. They might not know their
legal rights. They might lack awareness and understanding of court procedures. They might
experience problems with discussing and negotiating with lawyers and judges. In most
cases, such problems can lead to delays and lengthening of the legal process, leading to
expanded cost and frustration. (Langan, 839-844)
Unrepresented litigants also can damage the integrity of the justice system in the courtroom.
Lawyers act as advocates to their clients. They explain court procedures to them, motivate
them to be honest and upfront, and decide whether to bring a motion to court. Judges can’t
depend on the unrepresented in a similar manor as lawyers. In many cases, judges become
arbiters of issues that are outside the purposes of the courtroom. (Coleman, 44) As one
family law judge said, “So little of our work involves genuine legal issues to be truly
adjudicated. At our level in family court, we are a dumping ground for massive social and
economic issues and for the acts of very dysfunctional families. I feel that I am more a social
worker than a judge.” (Langan, 840)
The need for lawyers to represent such litigants is crucial, not only for the unrepresented but
the represented as well. For justice to be upheld, it is crucial that all litigants not only have
the right to have their day at court, but to have their day in court with a legal professional
who is able and capable of representing them for their benefit and the benefit of the U.S.
Goal, Objectives, and Outcomes
The goal of The People’s Legal Center, as previously stated, is to ensure that everyone in the
community of the city and county of San Francisco has access to reasonable and affordable
legal consultation, representation, and education. The center is dedicated to protect their
legal rights as was promised to them in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of
In regards to this goal, The People’s Legal Center objectives are:
To provide reasonably priced, based on a sliding scale, legal case
management to all members of the community of San Francisco
To provide legal referrals to in-house lawyers if case management
deems it necessary that an attorney is required
To provide legal referrals to outside lawyers or non-profits if case
management deems that it necessary that an attorney or non-profit
aside from the People’s Legal Center is required
To provide legal workshops and classes for the benefit of the citizens of
San Francisco to empower them with the ability to analyze and
comprehend legal concepts and terminology so that they can better
advocate for themselves.
To provide legal educational materiel—books, audio cds, etc.
To provide relevant legal contracts and forms along with legal advice
concerning how to complete and submit them
To provide reasonably priced, based on a sliding scale, notary public
and Loan Signing Services for all the citizens of San Francisco
The outcome of the People’s Legal Center services is to establish a community where the
legal needs of all its members are protected as well as creating universal awareness of the
Programs and Services
The People’s Legal Center will provide four program services. All services are provide on a
sliding pay scale based on the client’s ability to pay. The key elements are legal counseling
Case Management and Referral Services: The Center will provide case management.
Qualified legal professional will interview the client, analyze their legal situation, and
determine what resources and services the they require. If the they need legal advice or
representation then they will be referred to an attorney at the center. If they do not, they will
continue to meet with the case manager or attend legal educational workshop/classes until
the their situation is resolved.
Additionally, the center will provide an outside referral service. If the center cannot assist
the client, then they will be refer to outside lawyers or nonprofit organizations based on
location, area of law, and special services offered.
Legal Education: Attorneys or qualified facilitators/teachers will be teaching legal
workshops and classes at the Legal Center. Participants, teachers and facilitators can use
these courses for school credit.
Each workshop will include:
• 1-2 Facilitators
• Lesson plans and Outlines
• Materials and supplies ( such as pens, paper, etc.)
Each workshop/class will have legal terms and concepts to teach
participants (i.e. Negligence, Duties of Professionals, and Liability)
Each workshop/class unit will focus on a specialized law topic (i.e.
Business Law, Criminal Law, Immigration law, Juvenile Law, Real
The Center will provide books, CDs, and tapes (auditory learning on legal matters) for
participants and community members to help them enhance or supplement their learning.
Attorneys, facilitators, or teachers will recommend the materials including reading lists.
Legal Forms and Advice: Based on the Case Manager’s assessment and
recommendations to the client, a Lawyer will provide relevant legal forms with advice on
how to complete and file them. Also, the attorneys will offer advice on to use the forms.
Notary Public and Loan Signing Services: Being a National Notary Association
Member and a Certified Signing Agents Member, we offer public notarization and loan
signing services on a sliding pay scale.
To ensure the quality of our services, the People’s Legal Center has instituted several
evaluations and audits to determine the quality and efficiency of the programs. These audits
cover legal counseling, representation in court, legal education, and durability of legal
assistance. The People’s Legal Center is dedicated to provide programs and services that not
only assist those seeking legal aid but also to insure that the programs and services provide
are efficient and of high quality.
The case manager will give pre-assessment to establish the needs required before counseling,
then a post-assessment after legal services have been provided to measure the clients’
fulfillment of legal needs. At the end of the post-assessment there will be an area for the
client to rate the services provided for them. There will also be an area where the client is
encouraged to write about their experience with the People’s Legal Center and offer
suggestions to improve services.
After the People’s Legal Center has provided legal assistance to the client, the staff will
perform a self-audit to determine how well the center has served the client’s needs. This
audit will determine whether the client was served in court, whether there was a positive
outcome to the client’s legal concerns, whether the client was able to navigate the legal
system swiftly and efficiently, whether the client was able to keep legal costs at a minimum,
and so forth. Staff will perform a follow-up audit six months later to determine the durable
effects of legal services.
Facilitators will hand out concise and in-depth quizzes after educational legal courses are
held to determine how well client/students have absorbed the content of the courses. At the
end of the quiz, there will be a section where the client student will be asked to rate the
course. There will also be a section where the client/student is encouraged to write about
their experience taking the course and offer suggestions to improve the content and teaching
of the course.
The need for legal representation is essential and needed. Without proper legal
representation for all individuals in the U.S. legal system, one’s right to affordable and fair
justice under the law is comprised. The People’s Legal Center is determined to ensure the
people of San Francisco have access to professional legal counseling and representation,
regardless of their ability to pay. The People’s Legal Center is also determined to see they
are aware of their rights and the legal process in the U.S. Representation generally is not a
problem for people with financial capital and assets. For those without, their civil rights are
often compromised. By funding the People’s Legal Center, you are ensuring the that the
right to justice not only belongs to those who can afford it, but also to those are challenged
in their ability to understand and defend their the rights in our legal system.
SF Foundation Grant $8,000.00
Women’s Grant $8,000.00
Law Justice Foundation Grant $12,000.00
Private Donations $1,650.000
Payroll (employees) $12,000.00
Independent Contractors $24,000.00
Payroll expense, accounting svc. $3,600.00
Payroll taxes $1,200.00
Premise Liability $504.00
Workers Comp $2,004.00
Marketing/advertising fees $1,200.00
Car, delivery, and travel $1,200.00
Accounting and legal $-
Office supplies $3,600.00
Bank services fees $120.00
Utilities and Telephone $3,000.00
Web hosting $120.00
Coleman, Ian Justice. “Unrepresented litigants and the Family Court” Reform 73
Langan Anne-Marie. Threatening the Balance of the Scales of Justice: Unrepresented
Litigants in the Family Courts of Ontario. Carters Professional Corporation. 2005.
O’Leary Kathleen Honorable, Chair. Statewide Action Plan for Serving Self-
Represented Litigants. The Center for Families, Children & Courts. February, 2004
Judicial Council of California.
Rose Hough Bonnie. Description of California Courts’ Programs for Self-
Represented Litigants. California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California Judicial
June, 2003. Council of California 2009.