The mission of Legal Services of Northern California
is to provide quality legal services to empower the poor to identify and defeat the causes and effects of poverty within our community efficiently utilizing all available resources.

2012 Program Profile

In 2012, Legal Services of Northern California begins its 56th year of aggressive advocacy on behalf of low-income individuals and families in northern California. Incorporated as the Legal Aid Society of Sacramento County in 1956, the program has grown to encompass 23 counties stretching from the perimeter of the San Francisco Bay region and up the north Pacific coast on the west, to the Oregon border on the north, and to the Sierra Nevada range and the Nevada border on the east.

LSNC serves a low-income population of over 500,000 spread over an urban/ rural (mostly rural, outside of Sacramento and a handful of relatively small cities) area that encompasses 49,005 square miles, roughly the size of Ohio. We serve clients in four distinct economic regions where differing economic realities present strategic challenges to lifting families from poverty.

The population we serve is largely minority. The census data suggests the following racial/ethnic profile of the poverty population: White, 40%; African-American, 9%; Native American, 3%; Asian, 10%; Hispanic, 20%; Other, 17%.

LSNC serves the second largest Hmong population and the largest Mienh community in the United States. Our northern and coastal counties and the San Joaquin river delta are home to thousands of migrant farm workers who cultivate and harvest the tree and row crops, including wine grapes, that support California’s agricultural industry. The north state is also home to a significant Native American population for whom our staff provide special outreach and services.

With a 2012 budget of over $11 million, LSNC provides a full range of legal services throughout our service area. Clients are served from nine regional offices located in Vallejo, Woodland, Sacramento, Auburn, Nevada City, Chico, Redding, Eureka, and Ukiah. LSNC also operates five large special projects under its corporate umbrella: the Senior Legal Hotline; the Health Rights Program; the Ombudsman Services of Northern California (OSNC) (advocacy in long-term care facilities); the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) (Medicare-related advocacy); and the separately incorporated Voluntary Legal Services Program (VLSP) (providing pro bono attorney support). Five of our offices, in partnership with local courts, operate “self-help” clinics for unrepresented litigants. LSNC’s staff of over 130 is complemented by hundreds of volunteers.

LSNC utilizes a multifaceted and integrated delivery system which combines high quality legal services to individuals with nationally recognized, effective impact advocacy (complex litigation, administrative and legislative advocacy, and sophisticated economic development work). In 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available), LSNC closed 15,160 client cases in our field offices. Of these cases, over 2,500 were handled by private attorneys working under the auspices of one of our pro bono programs. LSNC closed an additional 22,000 individual cases in the five specially funded programs, described above. We also provided some level of assistance, in the form of self-help materials, legal clinics, and community legal education, to tens of thousands of other needy individuals with whom we did not establish a formal client relationship.

Following an intensive “Program Quality Review” in 2010, LSC’s Office of Program Performance praised LSNC for its successful impact advocacy, its distinctive community lawyering model, its innovative initiatives, and its “very favorable reputation” within the client communities, the judiciary, and the bar. In particular, LSNC’s leadership was honored for its “sharp sense of vision and mission, and its emphasis on excellence, innovation, and the achievement of goals and objectives.” LSNC’s mission dates back to its roots in this nation’s “War on Poverty”: To provide quality legal services to empower the poor to identify and defeat the causes and effects of poverty within their communities.