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VLSP’s First Ten Years: 1977-1986

11/11/2017 8:21 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

The Bar Association of San Francisco

San Francisco Attorney Magazine

Spring 2017



JDC Celebrates Forty Years Providing Legal Help to San Franciscans and Their Families 



"Forty years ago, James Brosnahan, then president of The Bar Association of San

Francisco (BASF), along with the late Joanne M. Garvey, president in 1981, and

Thomas F. Smegal, president in 1979, mobilized the city’s legal community to

respond to a growing, unmet need. They had come to realize that government funded,

staff-based programs did not have the resources, or the capacity, to meet

all the legal needs of San Francisco’s poor.


Though BASF had been involved with the creation of the San Francisco Legal

Aid Society in the early 1900s, BASF’s members, while supportive, had not been

incredibly active in pro bono legal services. Determined to help its members

provide legal services to those who were being left behind, BASF launched the

Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) in April 1977, hoping it would serve as

a catalyst to involve more BASF members in pro bono work for the poor.


In 2012, VLSP, the BASF Foundation, and BASF’s Diversity Educational Programs merged into one 501(c)(3) organization and the resulting entity was named the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC).


Now celebrating forty years, JDC continues its work to fulfill the vision of the three founders and to expand into preventing homelessness, increasing diversity in the legal profession, and assisting immigrant children and their families."


In recognition of its unwavering dedication to creating positive and lasting change in clients’ lives, the Volunteer Legal Services Program/Justice & Diversity Center’s forty years will be chronicled in every issue of San Francisco Attorney magazine in 2017.


This first installment covers 1977 to 1986.




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