San Antonio Legal Services Association (SALSA) is a corps of attorney volunteers coordinated by professional staff to provide free civil legal services to those with limited means and those who are vulnerable or at-risk.
We recruit, train, and support the volunteer attorneys who represent SALSA’s clients — low-income individuals and families— without charge.
Legal Priority Areas:
Our programs are designed to meet significant legal needs in San Antonio and surrounding communities that otherwise would go unaddressed. SALSA volunteers provide free legal services across a variety of civil legal issue areas and multiple areas of substantive law.
As new unmet needs are identified, SALSA’s volunteer corps adjusts to fill these gaps. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, SALSA volunteers drafted wills for over 300 frontline healthcare workers, providing critical peace of mind so these heroes could care for San Antonio’s most vulnerable citizens.
Model of Service:
Our extended representation model has four main steps — referral, intake/work-up, matching, and legal representation — and includes ongoing support for clients and volunteers.
Step 1: A partner organization refers the case to SALSA
Most of SALSA’s individual clients come to us by referral from legal services agencies, including Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA). We also receive direct referrals from community partners serving indigent, vulnerable and at-risk populations. Veterans may apply directly to SALSA for assistance.
Step 2: SALSA staff prepares the case for a volunteer
After the client’s case is referred to SALSA, our team analyzes the case. After all the boxes (income eligibility, case type, no conflict of interest) are checked, SALSA opens the case and gathers information about the case to kickstart the volunteer’s ability to assist the client.
Step 3: The client is matched with a volunteer attorney
Once the case work-up is finished, SALSA will work to match the case with a volunteer attorney, a “pitching” process that draws on SALSA’s knowledge of volunteers’ interest areas, capacity, and prior service.
Step 4: The volunteer provides the client with free legal representation
Once matched with a volunteer attorney, a client will usually meet with her/his attorney to review the case. After that initial meeting, the specific legal assistance provided by a SALSA volunteer attorney varies on a case-by-case basis. Clients receive the full scope of services (e.g., court filings, representation during court hearings, negotiating with opposing counsel) needed for the case.
Ongoing Support: As the case continues, a SALSA team member will serve as a liaison between the client and the volunteer attorney to facilitate communication and troubleshoot any challenges, as needed. SALSA’s Staff Attorneys provide additional support to volunteer attorneys, including one-on-one advice and coordination of mentor assistance.
Legal Clinics and Programs
SALSA also offers legal clinics and issue-specific programs with extensive training resources and expert oversight that empower attorneys to help outside of their traditional area of legal practice.
Opportunities include: helping renter-tenants resolve judgments in eviction cases, which pose a barrier to future housing access; helping adults with disabilities draft supported decision-making agreements and powers of attorney, which can help them enter adulthood without the need for a guardianship; interviewing and drafting annual reports for those under court mandated guardianship; and reviewing title documents to help San Antonio’s homeowners pass on their assets to the next generation.