In 1976, in Sacramento, California, local legal professionals, law students and others volunteered their time and skills to form the first CCLP. They came together to address the needs of low-income service workers who had launched a grass-roots organizing effort to improve conditions of in-home care workers, the elderly and disabled recipients of care, and the working poor.

One of Sacramento CCLP’s founders came to the Bay Area to involve her colleagues in starting a similar effort in the Bay Area. The attorneys she spoke to were interested in the CCLP idea and started their CCLP efforts by assisting in building the legal benefit program for a newly established domestic worker and service worker organizing drive in Oakland.

The effort ultimately consolidated into Bay Area CCLP in the wake of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 when low-income residents found themselves without homes and without assistance to get back on their feet. Natural disasters disproportionately harm the poor who have no cushion to fall back on, often living paycheck to paycheck. The disaster generated a massive need for legal assistance and advocacy for those families, faced with survival needs and denials of assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to two-thirds of those who applied for help. Several legal professionals and volunteers began to expand the legal advice and education programs to provide the advocacy needed by those who found themselves not only denied, but often under attack by the very government agencies that were supposed to be aiding them.

Bay Area CCLP is now located in the Bayview-Hunters Point section of San Francisco.