Dear Friends and Supporters,

At the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, expanding equal access is a core principle of our work to achieve justice for our communities. We take great pride in our five brick-and-mortar offices across Los Angeles County, as well as our clinics inside busy courthouses and healthcare facilities, that bring our services directly to the neighborhoods where our clients live, work, and play. In 2022, as the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic began to ebb, we were grateful for the opportunity to reopen our in-person services and once again meet our clients face-to-face.

We’ve embraced the return to community with zeal. Our new neighborhood outreach series, Ask LAFLA!, invited our neighbors, friends, and partners to reconnect with our free services, enjoy activities for kids, and get on-the-spot legal help. At our Access to Justice Gala, we were honored to host the inimitable Dolores Huerta, a civil rights icon for the working poor, women, and children, and Martin Estrada, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California and longtime member of LAFLA’s Board of Directors. But as we reopen our doors, we’re not content to go back to the way things were. Instead, we are building new ways forward toward our vision of a more just world.

The suffering caused by the pandemic clearly illustrated the urgency of intervening in poverty and injustice. At LAFLA, our advocacy to empower individual clients stands alongside our fight to reshape the conditions that block access to justice. In 2022, we not only connected Asian and Pacific Islander clients to services in their primary languages; we also launched a first-of-its-kind Medical-Legal Partnership dedicated to expanding access to medical care and improving health outcomes for underserved API communities. We not only helped workers to apply for unemployment benefits; we also won the right to language access at the California Employment Development Department. We not only defended low-income tenants from unfair evictions that threatened to leave them homeless; we also built a system to make legal representation available to all who need it, as well as a pipeline of advocates to provide that service.

Our staff—as well as our pro bono partners, volunteers, and supporters—continued to demonstrate incredible commitment and skill in their daily fight for equal justice against the odds. Our advocates adapted swiftly and deftly to a new hybrid model of services that both crosses the digital divide and reaches those unable to be physically present.

In our 2022 annual report, you’ll learn about the many ways we furthered justice in housing; economic stability; gender and the family; race equity; and language rights for and with our clients. We’re carrying this spirit with us into 2023 and beyond, and we invite you to join us.

In solidarity,

Silvia R. Argueta
Executive Director

Amy Lerner-Hill
President, LAFLA Board 2022-2024



LAFLA continues to lead Stay Housed L.A., a City- and County-funded program to prevent eviction and provide legal representation to low-income tenants. Now in its second full year, the partnership continues to expand access to justice for L.A.’s most vulnerable households. In 2022, Stay Housed L.A. reached out to 490,016 tenants, held 396 workshops and clinics with 8,890 attendees, and provided 9,547 low-income tenant households with legal services. As one of 10 legal service providers and 15 community-based organizations, LAFLA’s Eviction Defense Center represented tenants in eviction court, provided counsel and advice at clinics, and educated tenants about their rights.


We’ve proven that accessible legal services can help people access healthcare, improve overall wellbeing, and transform lives. This year, LAFLA partnered with Community Medical Wellness Centers to launch Southern California’s first Medical-Legal Partnership dedicated to underserved Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. This pioneering initiative provides holistic health and legal services that center the specific needs and experiences of the API communities of Long Beach, including expanding access to care for the significant Cambodian population. 


This year, LAFLA celebrated a major victory in our ongoing advocacy to make critical government support accessible to people of all cultural backgrounds. California workers who use languages other than English previously faced insurmountable barriers to accessing unemployment benefits, which were especially crucial at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as the result of a discrimination complaint filed by LAFLA and our partners (Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Asian Law Caucus, California Rural Legal Assistance, Center for Workers’ Rights, and Legal Aid at Work), the California Employment Development Department has agreed to make unemployment benefits available in more than 200 languages used by California residents


For years, LAFLA has fought to achieve justice for thousands of California students who were preyed on by for-profit schools and left to carry the debt. One of the worst offenders was investor-owned Corinthian Colleges Inc., whose fraudulent practices finally led its collapse in 2015. In 2022, LAFLA’s leadership contributed to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE)’s decision to discharge all federal student loans still held by Corinthian alumni, dating back to its founding class of 1995. Nearly 560,000 borrowers will see their loans forgiven, amounting to $5.8 billion in full loan discharges. LAFLA is proud to have played a role in both this sweeping action—the DOE’s largest loan discharge in history—and the lives of each individual student who came to us for help.


LAFLA is building a pipeline of eviction defense attorneys to meet the wave of post-COVID-19 evictions. In Fall 2022, our Eviction Defense Center (EDC) brought on seven non-barred post-graduate fellows—the largest class of fellows in recent LAFLA history. As they waited for the results of the California State Bar, this cohort of future advocates trained alongside EDC attorneys to learn landlord-tenant law and strategies to prevent unfair eviction and displacement.


In 2022, LAFLA’s pro bono projects engaged more than 700 volunteers made up of attorneys, law students, undergraduate students, interpreters, community volunteers, and many others. These skilled advocates contributed nearly 25,000 hours—valued at nearly $13 million—to expand LAFLA’s capacity to meet the legal needs of the community. They helped tenants to avoid homelessness; domestic violence survivors to obtain protection from their abusers; victims of crime to gain refuge in the U.S.; formerly incarcerated individuals to achieve a fresh start; and many others. LAFLA is grateful for the continued dedication of our pro bono partners who go out of their way to support the community during times of need.



Provides linguistically accessible, culturally intelligent, trauma-informed help to API clients in their preferred language, with access to all LAFLA services.


Government Benefits — Helps people obtain benefits to fulfill basic needs (food, shelter, medical care, and services to attain self-sufficiency). Employment — Fights wage theft and denial of unemployment insurance benefits. Advises on wrongful terminations and discriminatory employment practices. Student Loans — Helps people who cannot afford to repay their student loans due to disability or who have attended for-profit colleges that engaged in predatory, deceptive, or illegal practices.


Provides housing rights information and direct representation for individuals facing eviction. Prevents housing-subsidy residents and Section 8 voucher holders from losing their housing and/or subsidies. Preserves Rent Stabilized Ordinance (RSO) tenancies and prevents RSO violations. Helps clients living in uninhabitable conditions get repairs or reductions in rent. Provides eviction defense resources to tenants through Stay Housed L.A. partnership.


Engages a movement-lawyering approach to prevent unfair displacement and preserve and expand affordable housing. Deploys legal strategies in partnership with the community to defend the rights of unhoused individuals and families and provide legal support to community-based organizations seeking to build healthy, economically vibrant communities.


Provides patients with access to legal services, focusing on those that can negatively impact the health of patients, such as poor housing conditions, loss or denial of public benefits, and violence within the home.


Provides legal services to households facing homelessness and/or imminent eviction, as well as unhoused individuals and families, in the South Bay/ Harbor area and southeast Los Angeles County.


Provides legal assistance to reentry for individuals in various substantive areas including but not limited to housing, benefits, and record clearing. Removes barriers to reentry and housing and housing stability, so people can have a fresh start and better access to work and housing opportunities.


Provides legal services to the Santa Monica client community in the areas of housing and homelessness, tenant harassment, domestic violence, family law, and public benefits. Tenant Small Claims Project — Provides resources and support to tenants sued in small claims court for COVID-19 rental debt, including workshops and seminars. Assists tenants in suing their landlords in small claims court for violation of their tenants’ rights. Represents some tenants in small claims court appeals.


Assists individuals who represent themselves (regardless of income or immigration status). Offers legal information, help with preparing court forms, and guidance on a variety of civil legal matters. Provides referrals to private attorneys or legal services programs as needed.


Helps and represents survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in obtaining restraining orders, and orders for custody, dissolution, visitation, and support.


Assists and represents survivors of domestic violence, torture, human trafficking, and other serious abuse in removal proceedings and before U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Helps and represents individuals before USCIS to become U.S. citizens. Torture Survivors Project — Provides legal assistance, representation, and community education to immigrants who are survivors of torture.


Advocates on behalf of veterans to obtain life-sustaining income, health, and housing benefits. Dismisses tickets and expunges convictions so veterans can have a fresh start. Upgrades unjust less-than-honorable military discharges. Prevents veteran homelessness.


717 volunteers
Hours of volunteer
service donated
0 +
LA County residents received legal help through LAFLA.
Veterans served
Cases closed with pro bono involvement
Cases closed through medical-legal partnerships



24% of clients
have limited

Amharic (Ethiopia), Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Cantonese, English, Farsi, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Mandarin, Other, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Sign Language, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tigrinya (Eritrea), Ukranian, Unknown, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zapotec
0 +
people helped
through self-help
legal access centers

Who We Help

By Race/Ethnicity*

By Age*

Under 18: 1%
18-44: 51%
45-64: 34%
65+: 14%

By Gender*

Female: 62%
Male: 36%
Other/Not Stated: 1%
Transgender (any) 1%
Non-Binary: 0.4%

By Legal Issue*

* This information is based on our clients with cases open in 2022.



Frances had lived happily in her Long Beach apartment for 10 years. Located just across the street from the school her two children attended, she proudly watched them succeed academically and thrive socially. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., and her work as a muralist abruptly dried up, Frances’s CalWORKS benefits and Section 8 voucher helped her to scrape by—until her landlord gave her a 3-day notice to leave


Tetyana was asleep in her apartment in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, when bombs began to rain down on her building and all over town. She quickly grabbed her one-year-old daughter Edel while her mother, Vera, threw whatever she could fit into a suitcase. Together, they ran for their lives.


Varela had always been told that a quality education could open the door to lifelong economic opportunity. In 2013, she enrolled in Everest College to train as a medical assistant, and eventually as a nurse. Like many students, she couldn't afford school on her own, so she borrowed nearly $25,000 in federal and private loans, believing that the career she was training for would enable her to pay it back over time. But unbeknownst to her, Varela had fallen prey to an educational scam.


Revenue & Support

Income Total: $37,571,083
Government Contracts: $31,561,661
Misc. Income $4,702,957
Grants & Contributions: $704,853
Special Events: $601,612


Expenses Total: $37,354,022
Program: $30,226,568
Support: $6,893,405
Fundraising: $234,049


Expenses, revenue, & support: $11,876,329

Thank You

Alison Faith Charitable Fund 
Amazon Smile
American Association of Law Libraries
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Amgen Pac-Match Gift Program
Andrues/Podberesky, APLC
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Association of Corporate Counsel of America
Ballard Spahr LLP
California ChangeLawyers
California Community Foundation
California Endowment
California Women’s Law Center
Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation
Charitable Adult Rides & Services, Inc.
Charities Aid Foundation of America
Dweck Charitable Fund, Inc.
Elks of Los Angeles Foundation/Los Angeles Lee Linden Foundation
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
Giving Foundation, Inc.
Goldman Sachs
Hall Family Foundation
Hilton Worldwide, Inc. / Memphis Shared Services
Hopson Family Foundation c/o Greater Horizons
InCloud, LLC
Integral Associates CA, LLC
Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles
Jewish Community Foundation San Diego
Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors Foundation
Law Offices of Razmin Monghate
Little Nest Fund through ImpactAssets
McMaster-Carr Supply Company
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County
Network For Good
New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Oaktree Capital Management, L.P.
R.J. and D.A. Munzer Foundation
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
Riot Games, Inc.
S. Mark Taper Foundation
The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg
The Lever Family Foundation
U.S. Charitable Gift Trust
United Way Capital Region
Venable Foundation, Inc.
Wells Fargo Foundation


Munger, Tolles & Olson


Morgan Lewis


Cheryl & Haim Saban and the Saban Family Foundation
CityNational Bank
Kirkland & Ellis
Latham & Watkins
Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan
Sheppard Mullin
TM Financial Forensics


The Audet Law Foundation


Gibson Dunn
Jenner & Block


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Debra Fischer & Sherwin Frey
Foley & Lardner
Glaser Weil
Greenberg Glusker
Hogan Lovells
Jim Hornstein & Victorial Diamantidis
Jones Day
Loeb & Loeb
Mayer Brown
Martin & Karen Tachiki
The Morrison Foerster Foundation
Northrop Grumman
Nossaman LLP
Potomac Law Group
Rita Tuzon & Rick Stone
Sony Pictures
Southern California Edison
Spertus Landes & Umhofer
Sullivan & Cromwell
Susman Godfrey
TSG Reporting
Willkie Farr & Gallagher


Amy Lerner Hill


Kahn A. Scolnick


Brianne Wiese


Lynette M. Jones


C. Cleo Ray


Karen J. Adelseck
Eric Bakewell
Wendy R. Cabil
Kyle Casazza
Sean A. Commons
Carissa Coze
Joseph B. Farrell
Marc Feinstein
Debra L. Fischer
Gary E. Gans
Felix Garcia
Naomi Haywood
Silvia Hernandez
James E. Hornstein
Kimberly Klinsport
Bethany Kristovich
Clementina Lopez
Michael Maddigan
John Maldonado
Matthew Marmolejo
Louise Mbella
Virginia F. Milstead
Kevin J. Minnick
Fanny Ortiz
Adam S. Paris
Chris Rivas
David Lewis Sagal
Kareen Sandoval
Marc M. Seltzer
Linus Shentu
Jeff A. Taylor
Ronald B. Turovsky
Pamela Westhoff
Liat Yamini


Frances had lived happily in her Long Beach apartment for 10 years. Located just across the street from the school her two children attended, she proudly watched them succeed academically and thrive socially. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., and her work as a muralist abruptly dried up, Frances’s CalWORKS benefits and Section 8 voucher helped her to scrape by—until her landlord gave her a 3-day notice to leave.

Frances had already informed her landlord that she was suffering financial hardship because of the pandemic. Under the Los Angeles County COVID-19 Tenant Protections, she qualified to delay her rental payments until the emergency was over. Moreover, things were looking up for Frances: She had finally found steady new work at a barbershop less than two miles from her current home, and would soon be able to resume paying full rent and make payments toward her debt. But her landlord refused to accept any further payments and let her know in no uncertain terms that he would proceed with an eviction.

LAFLA first met Frances at our Self-Help Center at the Long Beach Courthouse, where she had come for help responding to the eviction on her own. Fortunately, after helping Frances submit a general denial, paralegal Rhoda Mercado realized that not only was this eviction unlawful, but there were additional issues in Frances’s case that LAFLA’s Eviction Defense Center could help with.

For months, Frances had been asking her landlord to help her address a cockroach infestation at her home—a request that he consistently ignored, leaving her with a home that was legally unfit to rent out. Additionally, her landlord was so eager to evict Frances that he had ignored her right to due process under Section 8 program rules, and was illegally refusing payments from the Housing Authority of the City of Long Beach (HACLB).

Attorneys Javier Valencia and Akila Shinroy knew something was amiss. After filing an amended answer, they dug further, filing subpoenas and California Public Records Act Requests to investigate. Their work paid off when they discovered that Frances’s landlord had been unlawfully overcharging her for rent every month for nearly three years. When everything was tallied up, it turned out that not only was Frances not behind on rent, but she was more than $700 ahead on her payments.

LAFLA swiftly brought this information to light and reached a settlement with the landlord that allowed Frances to stay in her home. LAFLA also worked extensively with HACLB to ensure that Section 8 payments would continue, and that Frances would pay the correct rate going forward.

When Frances first came to LAFLA, she hoped she could get more time to move out and avoid the black mark of an eviction on her record. Instead, she got something more: the right to stay in her home, the ability to keep her children in the school they loved, and the promise of a new job that would help her keep her life stable.


Tetyana was asleep in her apartment in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, when bombs began to rain down on her building and all over town. She quickly grabbed her one-year-old daughter Edel while her mother, Vera, threw whatever she could fit into a suitcase. Together, they ran for their lives.  

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Tetyana and her husband of 20 years, Vasyl, were thriving small business owners. As a teenager, winning the title of “Miss Ukraine” made Tetyana a national symbol and planted a seed in her to work hard for her dreams. She became a passionate entrepreneur whose pursuits ranged from dog training to organic farming. But as tensions rose, Tetyana began to fear that her prominence in the community would make her a target for anti-Ukrainian violence. 

 Tetyana had heard the rumors that Russia’s goal was genocide. She had seen firsthand the leaflets from Russian soldiers, and even from churches, calling for her area to be “cleansed” by “killing any Ukrainian [you] meet.” The bombing of her own building made it crystal clear that she had to get out now. 

When Tetyana arrived at LAX with her mother and daughter, she had no idea where her husband was, whether her home was still standing, whether she had the right to stay in the country, or how she would support her family here if so. She had one glimmer of hope: Her sister, who lived in Long Beach, gave her a place to stay and soon referred her to the Legal Aid Foundation. 

LAFLA immigration attorney Nhien Tran quickly got to work on Tetyana’s case. Nhien knew that the U.S. had issued emergency permissions for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, and requested an emergency expedited Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for Tetyana and Edel, as well as employment authorization for Tetyana so that she could support herself and the baby. She also referred Tetyana to the International Institute of Los Angeles to help her access food, trauma support, childcare, and anything else she might need on top of her legal case.

In the meantime, Nhien began exploring options for Vasyl to join Tetyana in the U.S. so the family could be reunited in safety. Here, an unexpected problem arose: The couple had followed their community’s tradition of marrying in the church after counseling with the priest to prepare for what they viewed as a sacred commitment. But unbeknownst to them, the marriage certificate issued by the church was not legally valid—so Tetyana did not have the right to bring Vasyl with her to the U.S. 

Nhien contacted the California Attorney General, the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office, the Ukrainian Consulate, and even the Library of Congress to help Tetyana register her marriage from afar. Luckily, timely new guidance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allowed Vasyl to be recognized as Tetyana’s husband so that they could apply for asylum together.

Finally, in December 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted Tetyana and Edel’s application for TPS and employment authorization. Tetyana now has a job that provides for her family and recently found new affordable housing in Long Beach. She is grateful that LAFLA stuck by her side through every new step of her case—and in fact, we still are. Today, we continue to work with Tetyana to apply for asylum and make her, Edel, and Vasyl’s protections permanent.


Varela had always been told that a quality education could open the door to lifelong economic opportunity. In 2013, she enrolled in Everest College to train as a medical assistant, and eventually as a nurse. Like many students, she couldn’t afford school on her own, so she borrowed nearly $25,000 in federal and private loans, believing that the career she was training for would enable her to pay it back over time. But unbeknownst to her, Varela had fallen prey to an educational scam.

Everest promised to support alumni in finding a good-paying job after graduation, and boasted high rates of successful placements. But it was all untrue—part of a decades-long campaign of fraud and illegal business practices by the school’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges. When potential employers started turning Varela away because she had trained at Everest, she realized that her education experience had left her with more debt and fewer prospects than before she had started. She was so discouraged that she considered advising her children not to go to college at all.

Varela wasn’t alone. By the time she came to LAFLA for help in 2016, Corinthian Colleges had collapsed, and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) had finally begun developing a discharge program for the nearly 500,000 borrowers who had been defrauded there over the years. LAFLA’s student loan team, led by senior attorney Robyn Smith, first helped Varela apply for a Defense to Repayment (DTR) against her federal loans using the new process.

But even with new recourse for borrowers like Varela, and with LAFLA’s nationally renowned experts on her side, it still took years of advocacy before Varela’s loans were successfully discharged. Finally, after LAFLA and others flagged systemic issues in the borrower defense process, the DOE announced a group discharge for all federal student loan borrowers who had attended a Corinthian school.

In the meantime, though, the COVID-19 pandemic had struck, and Varela’s unemployment benefits ran out. Despite her prior experience, she was willing to re-train in a new career to find work—but she was struggling under the weight of the debt she had incurred under false pretenses. 

In 2021, the DOE discharged most of Varela’s federal loans. To tackle the rest, Robyn and attorney Cara McGraw helped Varela apply for additional relief from California’s Student Tuition Recovery Fund. Finally, in 2022, the last of her loans from Everest were discharged and the out-of-pocket payments she had made over the years were reimbursed. While Varela will never get back the time, effort, and opportunities she lost during her years at Everest, she no longer has to carry the burden of debt with her as she moves forward.

“LAFLA has helped me tremendously. I tell everyone who will listen: I don’t know where I’d be without you,” Varela said. Now, she has a chance to end up where she always hoped: in a stable career that will enable her to support her family—including her newborn grandson!


Dear Friends and Supporters,

As we write this, we find ourselves in unprecedented times: The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our community in many ways – the pandemic has laid bare the systemic racism that has resulted in the health disparities in the Black and Latinx community; the virus has brutally affected poor communities; the full extent of this inequality remains to be seen. There is now a national dialogue regarding racial justice and structural racism, with a force we have not seen in years: perhaps signaling a paradigm shift. The youth of this nation are leading this movement with their drive and demands for change. The work of economic justice and racial justice are separate, but intertwined; we are committed to addressing both.

We at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles remain resolute and hopeful in the face of uncertainty and hardship; and continue to meet the needs of our clients, who have suffered the most throughout the COVID crisis. The communities we serve had already possessed the fewest resources prior to the pandemic; now many have lost what little they did have. The need for civil legal aid – and equal justice – is stronger than ever.

Our history as the largest and longest-serving legal aid organization in California has bolstered our abilities to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and renewed our commitment to racial equality and the dismantling of sysems that promote racism. In 2019, we had the good fortune to celebrate our 90th anniversary, reflecting on other turbulent periods in our nation’s past, and our perseverance in overcoming these trials. 

We also had new reasons to celebrate: the Whole Person Care LA Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP), which includes LAFLA, received the National Impact Award from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership; the County opened its first Reentry Opportunity Center with LAFLA staff on the frontlines, providing legal services to those in the justice system; and our annual Access to Justice Dinner brought together more than 20 former LAFLA board presidents in celebration of our organization’s achievements and longstanding commitment to our community.

But most importantly, we honored the spirit of our clients in all that we did, and continue to do: Their strength, dignity, and resolve, in spite of the hardships they face, motivate our staff to fight harder to keep our clients housed; remove undue burdens such as overwhelming debt; prevent violence at the hands of abusive partners; and much more. In this annual report, you will read about how our staff helped clients in these very situations last year – and the other ways we helped more than 100,000 residents of Los Angeles County living in poverty.

The future may be unpredictable, but our commitment to serving the most vulnerable residents of Los Angeles County remains steadfast. We thank you for being a part of LAFLA’s mission over the last 90 years – and for your continued support as we begin to write the next chapter of our journey.

With gratitude,

Silvia R. Argueta
Executive Director  

James M. Burgess
President, LAFLA Board 2018-2020