Public Benefits Attorney

Open Door Legal
The Law Belongs to All of Us


Public Benefits Attorney – San Francisco, CA 


About Us:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

At Open Door Legal (ODL), we’re pioneering the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation to dramatically reduce poverty and prove that the law really can belong to all of us. To achieve this ambitious goal, we’ve created an award-winning and best-in-class legal aid organization full of passionate, motivated, gritty, thoughtful, and team-oriented people. We believe that injustice is the heart of poverty and we’re looking for someone to join us in having a systemic impact on how we, as a society, ensure justice for all.

Overview of Position:

We are hiring a Public Benefits Staff Attorney to represent clients in all stages of the application process for public benefits (SSDI/SSI appeals and others), support workers filing claims in small claims court and represent some clients at employment-related administrative agency hearings. This will be a full-time position designed to expand the capacity of our employment and public benefits team. You would report directly to our Senior Employment Attorney, who also has a background in SSDI appeal representation. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck the Bay Area and the United States, one thing became eminently clear: that low-income individuals, families, and workers are disproportionately affected in times of crisis. Our employment team works hard to ensure that businesses and organizations are held accountable to their workers, that the benefits workers were promised come to them, and that power and agency are not taken from our low-income communities. The work is fast-paced, is high-volume, and requires you to be organized, think critically and dynamically, and demonstrate empathy and awareness in understanding the needs of our community. If you want to make a difference in clients’ lives with us, we encourage you to apply! Overall, this position is intended to be a challenging and rewarding experience for someone who is interested in using that knowledge to impact the lives of local low-income community members.


  • Embody our mission of universal access to civil legal aid and make sure that the needs of clients in our service area are met.
  • Own 35-45 cases which are in the administrative law process or small claims and be responsible for making sure the clients’ goals are met.
  • Take responsibility for owning all our public benefit cases and doing the intakes.
  • Represent clients at various stages of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) processes, including reconsideration, administrative hearings, the SSA appeals council, federal district court, and post-eligibility issues. This includes maintaining contact with clients, gathering medical and other treatment records, drafting briefs, preparing direct exams and cross examinations, and representing clients at hearing. We currently have 25 cases at various stages of the application/appeals process at the Social Security Administration.
  • Be the case manager for our small claims cases, using the People Clerk software for the paperwork and preparing clients to represent themselves at the hearings. Right now, we file many wage and hour cases in SF Superior Court’s small claims division but clients are pro per.
  • Be available at least twice a month after hours, in-office, to staff pro bono clinics. 
  • Be responsible for the public benefits casework and clients, including making case opening decisions as they meet our mission, in coordination with and under the management of our Senior Employment Law attorney.
  • Physically be able to go to SF Superior Court (400 McAllister St.) to deliver
  • courtesy copies, and/or pick up orders, if needed. (We estimate this may be once every two weeks). 
  • Appear in administrative hearings representing clients up to 2 times a month for any litigation matters, as needed.  Gain familiarity and build relationships with the court players (clerks, mediators, bailiffs, legal staff, and administrative judges, agency staff).
  • Support our Employment Law team with other tasks and casework as department needs fluctuate. Assist our employment law attorney in doing tasks on our client’s employment-related claims at state administrative agencies. Opportunities to appear at these mediations and administrative hearings.   
  • Provide trauma-informed legal services and help clients stay updated on their case, maintaining positive client feedback scores. Meet clients where they are, factoring in their cultural and social-economic backgrounds and any barriers to service.
  • Gain and maintain proficient knowledge of public benefit law and employment law.
  • Attend trainings, review solutions, engage in casework, and discuss case strategy with your supervisor to obtain the skills and knowledge in best practices needed to competently represent clients, in areas relating to legal strategy, and in trauma-informed and culturally-sensitive direct services high-volume legal work.
  • Commit to leading the office in representing our mission and values externally to potential clients, clients, and others as well as internally to all teammates and volunteers. Our values are passion, grit, teamwork, caring, and dynamism.


  • Membership in good standing with the California State Bar. Applicants without active California bar membership will not be considered. However, those without a license are encouraged to apply to volunteer with us at
  • Knowledge of California public benefits and experience representing clients at administrative law hearings. 
  • Excellent writing and oral advocacy skills, with the ability to be detail-oriented.
  • Strong time management skills and the ability to organize time, manage diverse activities, and meet critical deadlines with minimal supervision.
  • Dogged perseverance in the face of bureaucratic barriers.
  • To meet the needs of our client, we are looking for someone who is willing to work a flexible schedule to include a few evenings a month. 
  • Have a high level of comfort learning and using technology and cloud-based case management systems. We use Salesforce, Dropbox, and Google Suite. 
  • Must genuinely enjoy and be motivated by working with low-income clients and be able to work competently with clients impacted by trauma (emotional, mental, and physical).
  • Must actively demonstrate cultural humility and sensitivity to barriers low-income residents face when attempting to access the justice system.
  • Minimal to light physical effort is generally required in performing duties in an office environment. This position requires the ability to operate a computer keyboard and standard office equipment, sitting, standing, and lifting up to 10 pounds occasionally
  • Must be legally authorized to work in the U.S.

Bonus Points:

  • Bilingual in English and Spanish – potential compensation increase.
  • Bilingual in English and Cantonese – potential compensation increase.
  • Previous experience in a legal environment, working in employment law, and/or doing SSDI appeals.
  • Experience working with low-income and vulnerable populations.
  • Experience working in a high-volume legal aid or similar environment.
  • Having lived a significant period of your life in San Francisco proper.

Starting compensation is $77,500 – $93,500 annually based on experience.

Apply here: 

Applications received before October 18 will receive priority consideration.

Ideal starting date: November 2023

Related keywords: employment, law firm, legal services, employment specialist, public benefits, SSDI, administrative law 


  • Loan Repayment Assistance – for staff pursuing 10-year public interest debt forgiveness, we will pay the minimum payment on all qualifying loans so that you don’t need to worry about student loan debt (this is a conditional benefit).
  • Medical/Dental/Vision Plan offerings at 100% coverage
  • Paid mental health benefit
  • Generous paid time off
  • Flexible work hours
  • Generous paid parental leave
  • 401K/Retirement Account
  • Strong organizational culture with an eNPS of 100
  • We believe everyone is always learning. We financially invest in individual professional development for each staff member and provide many internal and external mentorships, coaching, and learning opportunities (conferences, workshops, etc.).
  • We are a fun and hard-working office with best-in-class technology solutions for anyone who’s passionate about making a meaningful and measurable difference.

Open Door Legal is proud to be an Equal Opportunity employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, sexual stereotypes, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or any other applicable legally protected characteristics. We also consider qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with applicable federal, state, and local law including the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance.

We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities in our recruiting process. If you need any assistance or accommodations due to a disability, please let us know at whitney [at] opendoorlegal [dot] org.

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