Legal Aid Society Celebrates Justice

Honorary chairs bill and dorian sailer

Bill and Dorian Sailer are the Honorary Gala Chairpersons for The Legal Aid Society of San Diego’s Centennial Gala on November 19th at the historic US Grant Hotel. The event will bring together 500 guests including supporters, staff, lawyers, judges, volunteers and friends. They will all celebrate 100 years of promoting access to justice in San Diego County. Dorian, an attorney and musician, volunteers for many local charities. Bill, Senior Vice President & Legal Counsel for Qualcomm, has served on the The Legal Aid Society of San Diego’s (LASSD) board for over 30 years. They are thrilled to be honorary gala chairs for this exciting event because they share LASSD’s passion for supporting access to justice for everyone.

LASSD improves lives by advancing justice through effective, efficient and vigorous legal advocacy, outreach and education. This social justice organization provides free legal services to low-income people and families on the margins of society, so that they can effectively address situations impacting their rights as citizens. The LASSD improves lives by helping its clients achieve self-sufficiency in a challenging legal world. CEO Greg Knoll has led the organization, the largest provider of free civil legal services in the county, for 49 years.

The Statue of Liberty welcomes all those entering the United States, its “huddled masses yearning to be free.” In 1876, that sentiment was evident when the first Legal Aid Society was established in New York City. It was a private, charitable program, defending the rights of European immigrants, unfairly denied equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.

Subsequently, after President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “War on Poverty” established the Legal Services Program, those rights were pursued throughout the United States through legal aid programs. By 2015, nearly 300 such organizations existed. They provided a range of legal programs dedicated to providing free legal assistance to those who could not afford to hire a lawyer.

In San Diego, LASSD was established in 1919 as the “Office of the Public Attorney.” It was incorporated under its current name in 1953. For over 100 years, LASSD has provided free legal services to low-income people throughout the county. Its staff has grown from one attorney to a staff of 175, including 75 full-time staff attorneys, and 200 volunteers, offering both a practical and holistic approach to helping people achieve justice, improving their quality of life. LASSD specializes in housing issues, consumer protection, foreclosure prevention, access to healthcare, income maintenance, nutritional security, disability benefits, immigration, family law, taxes, special education law and more. The organization also offers free legal clinics at county courthouses and libraries.

Each year, LASSD helps thousands of individuals and families. A compassionate staff, board of directors, and volunteers are the bridge that connects the law with clients’ civil and human rights.

For more information, contact Lorena Slomanson at (619) 913-8599.

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Esteban Villanueva