Finding aid of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel Records

Josue Hurtado
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
657 Mission Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, California 94105
Phone: (415) 777-5455
Fax: (415) 777-5576
© 2007
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Finding aid to the AIDS Legal Referral Panel Records

Collection number: 2000-46

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

San Francisco, California
Processed by:
Josue Hurtado
Date Completed:
July 2005
Encoded by:
Rebekah Kim
© 2007 The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: AIDS Legal Referral Panel Records
Dates: 1983-1995
Collection number: 2000-46
Creator: AIDS Legal Referral Panel
Collection Size: 4.5 linear feet 9 manuscript boxes
Repository: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
San Francisco, California 94105
Abstract: Records of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, an organization that connects people with AIDS (PWA) and volunteer lawyers willing to donate time and expertise in order to assist them. It has been a significant resource for PWA's since its inception. Also Included in this collection is materials from the Women's AIDS Network.
Physical location: Stored at the Archives of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society in San Francisco, California.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AIDS Legal Referral Panel Records, 2000-46, The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

Donated by representatives of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel in 2000.

Organizational History

The AIDS Legal Referral Panel was founded in 1983 by attorneys Frederick Hertz, Steven Richter, Mark Senick, and Gary James Wood. It was originally a committee of the LGBT organization Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF). Hertz, Richter, Senick, and Wood understood that many gay men in the Bay Area were near death from complications of AIDS and were without the knowledge or resources to create wills, durable powers of attorney, and other legal paperwork necessary to die with dignity intact and with wishes about health care and disposition of assets in place. The four began by publicizing a phone number where people with AIDS could call to receive legal help and by recruiting other attorneys to join them.
The legal community leveraged its skills and resources through ALRP to respond to the crisis by providing those dying with AIDS the right to die with peace of mind. As Hertz recounts, "[preparing emergency wills] was wrenching. But if people asked me how I kept my sanity, it was through using my legal skills in a way that really helped people. I was doing something productive and meaningful and focused my grief on making a difference in people's lives."
The vision and activism of this small group: four founders and ten original Panel members, sustained the organization for several years without any other infrastructure. First led by BALIF co-chair Steve Richter with a list of telephone numbers, then by Gary James Wood when Richter developed AIDS in 1983, the organization operated solely as a volunteer-staffed organization until 1986, at which time ALRP hired attorney Clint Hockenberry.
With Hockenberry at the helm the ALRP grew from a grassroots community of concerned attorneys to an established lawyer referral service. Fundraising efforts excelled and extensive recruitment, training, and supervision of ALRP's pro bono attorneys began. ALRP also partnered with the Bar Association of San Francisco's Volunteer Legal Services Program, a move which increased the legitimacy and visibility of the organization.
Hockenberry expanded outreach to better serve people of color, children, women, injection drug users, non-native English speakers, and the homeless. During his tenure, ALRP hosted the first national AIDS Law Conference and published the first AIDS Law Manual; extended outreach to other counties; garnered Ryan White CARE Act funds; founded ALRP's Public Policy Project; and became an independent organization in 1990, separate from BALIF, with a formal Board of Directors.
In March 1992, Clint Hockenberry passed away from AIDS, but under his leadership the ALRP had grown from an organization that formed in reaction to a crisis to an agency creatively and proactively responding to and anticipating the ever-changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community. As those with HIV/AIDS began living longer, Kristin Chambers, ALRP's second Executive Director, and her successor, Irwin Keller, continued Hockenberry's model of dynamic client services.
Under Chambers' and Keller's tenures, the 1990s saw an expansion of services and public policy efforts and an improved client referral system that better served the legal needs of the HIV/AIDS community. Full-time housing attorneys were hired when rising real estate prices left many in the HIV/AIDS community confronting homelessness.
In addition, "Working in the Cycle of HIV," an educational manual published in conjunction with AIDS Benefits Counselors (now Positive Resource Center) and the Employment Law Center, was created to respond to the large numbers of people with HIV/AIDS wanting to return to the workplace after experiencing positive outcomes from new treatments. On the public policy front, ALRP advocated for national health care reform; continued and improved HIV privacy and confidentiality protections; and argued for Social Security reform to provide expanded, fair, and adequate access to benefits.
By 2000, when Bill Hirsh became ALRP's fourth Executive Director, ALRP had grown from solely serving patients at San Francisco General Hospital to serving clients in seven Bay Area counties, from preparing emergency wills and powers of attorney to providing legal assistance to clients in all areas of civil law, and from a lawyer referral service to an organization providing both direct legal representation and personalized attorney/client referrals.
The ALRP is the first organized legal outreach effort for those with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and many original Panelists from 1983 remain active in the organization to this day. Initially formed to draft emergency wills and other necessary documents for terminally ill clients, the ALRP has shifted its focus to issues illustrative of the fact that those with HIV/AIDS are living longer lives than ever before and facing more complex legal needs.
Today, the AIDS Legal Referral Panel continues to function primarily as a referral service for people with legal problems related to AIDS. Callers are interviewed over the phone by ALRP staff to determine what issues are involved and what kind of help is needed. Clients are then matched with one of the hundreds of ALRP volunteer attorneys, paralegals, or notaries. Services are generally low cost or free. In 1992, 2,900 of the several thousand callers were referred to volunteers. ALRP also has a public policy arm which advocates for change in the legislative arena, in government entitlement programs (such as Social Security), and in other government agencies. The ALRP has been the sole agency dedicated to providing legal services to the HIV/AIDS community in all areas of civil law. What started in 1983 as a small circle of attorney friends has grown to a full-time staff of ten and a Panel of over 600 volunteer attorneys donating close to $1,000,000 each year in pro b ono legal services.
This collection also includes materials from the Women's AIDS Network. The Women's AIDS Network (WAN) was informally established in June of 1983 at the second National AIDS Forum in Denver. In March of 1984, women involved in AIDS services in the Bay Area began meeting as a support group. From this initial support group, WAN evolved into an advocacy organization and informational resource, both for women affected by HIV and for the providers who serve them. Since 1984 WAN has held information sharing meetings (referred to loosely as Board Meetings) for Bay Area members and has provided monthly informational mailings to members. It has sponsored three major educational forums and numerous speaking engagements; advocated and organized to support a legislative climate responsive to HIV-affected women's needs; provided informal technical assistance and review to other agencies; distributed information worldwide in response to hundreds of direct requests; developed a mod el policy on perinatal AIDS antibody testing; and sponsored social events and small financial grants to HIV-affected women.
*Most of the information in this history comes from Jill DiGiovanni's and Patricia Dunn's article "When a Community Needed a Will, ALRP Found the Way,"

Scope and Content of Collection

These records are potentially useful to researchers investigating subjects related to the subject of the legal rights of HIV positive persons and other legal issues surrounding AIDS. The collection contains ALRP Annual Reports for the years 1987-1991 and subject files that include correspondence, notes, and reports.


The collection is organized into ten series:
  • Series 1. Policies, 1985-1991
  • Series 2. Referral Panel List, 1985-1990
  • Series 3. Administration, 1985-1993
  • Series 4. Reports, 1986-1991
  • Series 5. Clients, 1991
  • Series 6. Advocacy, 1986-1995
  • Series 7. Awards Recognition, 1993-1998
  • Series 8. Publications and Manuals, 1986-2000
  • Series 9. Visual Materials, 1986-1995
  • Series 10. Women's AIDS Network, 1984-1992

Indexing Terms

San Francisco (Calif.)
Pro Bono Advocates

Collection Contents


Series 1. Policies 1985-1991

Physical Description: 5 folders

Series Description

The series contains documents relating to the structure, rules, and organization of the ALRP.
Box: Folder 1: 1

Audit (restricted) 1988-1992

Box: Folder 1: 2

Personnel Policy 1991

Box: Folder 1: 3

Procedures and Rules of Operation 1985-1986

Box: Folder 1: 4

Referral Procedures 1993

Box: Folder 1: 5

Staff Evaluations (restricted) 1991


Series 2. Referral Panel List 1985-1990

Physical Description: 4 folders

Series Description

This series contains lists of attorney's and law firms who were willing to take pro bono referrals from the ALRP. There is also a list of Honorary Board Members from 1991.
Box: Folder 1: 6

Honorary board 1991

Box: Folder 1: 7

Referral panel list 1985-1986

Box: Folder 1: 8

Referral panel List 1987-1988

Box: Folder 1: 9

Referral Panel Lists 1990


Series 3. Administration 1985-1993

Physical Description: 6 folders

Series Description

This series consists of internal documents, memos, meeting minutes, staff evaluations, various proposals, as well as documents from an audit. A folder containing staff evaluations has been separated from the collection and is restricted.
Box: Folder 1: 10

Correspondence 1985-1987

Box: Folder 1: 11

Staff Memos 1991

Box: Folder 1: 12

Minutes 1986-1989

Box: Folder 1: 13

Minutes and notice of meetings 1990-1992

Box: Folder 2: 1

Minutes 1992-1993

Box: Folder 2: 2

Proposals 1986-1988


Series 4. Reports 1986-1991

Physical Description: 3 folders

Series Description

This series contains annual reports, manager's reports and a treasurer's report documenting the organizations activities and progress. The annual reports are only for the years 1986 and 1987.
Box: Folder 2: 3

Annual Reports 1986-1987

Box: Folder 2: 4

Management reports undated

Box: Folder 2: 5

Treasurer's Report 1991


Series 5. Clients 1991

Physical Description: 2 folders

Series Description

This series contains a collection of client stories (labeled "tear jerkers") as well as client statistics from 1991. These materials illustrate the real impact that the attorneys of the ALRP have had on the lives of persons with AIDS. .
Box: Folder 2: 6

Miscellaneous Clients Stories (Tear Jerkers) 1991

Box: Folder 2: 7

Client Statistics 1991


Series 6. Advocacy 1986-1995

Physical Description: 8 folders

Series Description

This series contains materials documenting the ALRP's public policy advocacy on behalf of persons with AIDS over the years. Also found in this series is an analysis of Proposition 64, the "AIDS Initiative." This initiative statute would have added AIDS to the list of communicable diseases. The ALRP opposed this measure and it was defeated by a margin of 71% to 29%.
Box: Folder 2: 8

AIDSlaw Conference 1988-1991

Box: Folder 2: 9

Comments/Testimony SSA HIV Disability System 1992-1993

Box: Folder 2: 10

Comments/Testimony before Judicial Council of California 1995

Box: Folder 2: 11

Counterpart Conference on Legal Services - Executive Summary 1993

Box: Folder 2: 12

Joint Task Force on the HIV Epidemic 1990-1994

Box: Folder 3: 1

Policy Project 1992

Box: Folder 3: 2

"Prop 64: The AIDS Initiative in California" 1986

Box: Folder 3: 3

State Funding 1988


Series 7. Awards Recognition 1993-1998

Physical Description: 3 folders

Series Description

This series contains various awards and recognitions that the organization has garnered over the years. Included in this series is an invitation to President's Clinton's Second Inaugural Ball.
Box: Folder 3: 4

Various Awards 1998

Box: Folder 3: 5

Invitation to President Clinton's Second Inaugural Ball 1996

Box: Folder 3: 6

Letters of support 1993


Series 8. Publications and Manuals 1986-2000

Physical Description: 20 folders

Series Description

This series consists of publications and internal manuals produced by the organization. These publications were meant to provide legal information and education to persons with AIDS and those caring for person's with AIDS. Internal operations manuals, newsletters, and a personnel manual intended for the members of the ALRP are also found in this series.
Box: Folder 3: 7

Advance Medical Directive 1990

Box: Folder 3: 8

AIDS Assistance Panel 1986

Box: Folder 3: 9

AIDS in the Workplace undated

Box: Folder 3: 10

AIDS Medical Training for Non-Physicians 1989

Box: Folder 3: 11-12

AIDSLaw: A Manual on Providing Legal Services to Persons With HIV Infection 1990

Box: Folder 3: 13

Guardianship for Parents with HIV 1993

Box: Folder 4: 1

Information Pamphlets 1992-1994

Box: Folder 4: 2

Introductory Training Simple Wills, Power of Attorney for Health Care and Property undated

Box: Folder 4: 3

"Just Say No to Creditors..." 1990

Box: Folder 4: 4

Management circa 1992

Box: Folder 4: 5

Making Your Will 1990

Box: Folder 4: 6

Medical Privacy for the HIV-Infected Individual 1990

Box: Folder 4: 7

Morrison and Foerster Pro Bono AIDS Panel Forms and Procedures Manual 1989

Box: Folder 4: 8

Newsletter 1993-2000

Box: Folder 4: 8

Operations Procedures Manuels 1992

Box: Folder 4: 9

Personnel Manual 1991

Box: Folder 4: 10

Public Benefits 1990

Box: Folder 4: 11

Sacramento AIDS Legal Referral Panel Training Manual 1988

Box: Folder 4: 12

Social Security Appeals for HIV Disability: An Advocates Manual 1994

Box: Folder 4: 13

The Benefits Game undated


Series 9. Visual Materials 1986-1995

Physical Description: 2 boxes, 16 videocassettes

Series Description

This series consists of videos produced by the ALRP. These videos were meant to provide legal information for persons with AIDS. There are two sub-series, based on format. The first sub-series is VHS video cassettes and the second sub-series is U-matic video casettes.
Box : Folder 5: 1-12

VHS videocassettes

Box : Folder 5: 1

AIDS Changing the Rules undated

Box : Folder 5: 2

AIDS Panel, Bankruptcy Training, #1 November 15, 1986

Box : Folder 5: 3

AIDS Panel, Bankruptcy Training, #2 November 15, 1986

Box : Folder 5: 4

"As Is" undated

Box : Folder 5: 5

BALIF AIDS Panel, Dr. Baker, M. Griffith undated

Box : Folder 5: 6

Diva Las Vegas, Saturday October 21, 1995

Box : Folder 5: 7

Government Benefit Case (Related to Social Security Self Help Manual) August 1, 1988

Box : Folder 5: 8

Insurance July 30, 1988

Box : Folder 5: 9

Pro Bono in the AIDS Epidemic 1992

Box : Folder 5: 10

Social Security Appeals Training, Gary Wood July 23, 1988

Box : Folder 5: 11

Vivian Hammill Discrimination/ Gary Wood Disability undated

Box : Folder 6: 1-4

U-matic videocassettes

Sub-Series Description

These U-matic videocassettes are all Sony KCA-60K.
Box : Folder 6: 1

Melinda Griffith AIDS Panel undated

Box : Folder 6: 2

Vivian Hammill employment discrimination April 12, 1986

Box : Folder 6: 3

Gary Wood disability undated

Box : Folder 6: 4

BALIF AIDs Panel #1 with Dr. Baker and M.Griffith undated


Series 10. Women's AIDS Network 1984-1992

Physical Description: 18 folders

Series Description

These records document early and continuing advocacy work for women with HIV infection. Included are founding papers, bylaws, Board minutes (9qqq84-1992), other Board records, goals and planning documents, correspondence, contract and grant applications, subject files, and information on Women's AIDS Networks in other cities.
Box: Folder 7: 1

AIDS Walk 1994-1996

Box: Folder 7: 2

Dance-a-thon 1995-1996

Box: Folder 7: 3

Finances 1994-1997

Box: Folder 7: 4

Form 990 1993-1994

Box: Folder 7: 5

Fundraising 1992-1997

Box: Folder 7: 6

Newsletter 1995-1998

Box: Folder 7: 7

Women to Women HIV Transmission 1996

Box: Folder 8: 1

Board Meetings 1992-1995

Box: Folder 8: 2

Board of Directors Retreat 1994-1997

Box: Folder 8: 3

Board of Directors 1993-1994

Box: Folder 8: 4

United Way 1996-1997

Box: Folder 8: 5

Public Policy 1995-1997

Box: Folder 8: 6

Historical Documents 1988-1997

Box: Folder 9: 1

Board Retreat, bylaws, articles of incorporation, non-profit status 1192-1996

Box: Folder 9: 2

Board of Directors nominees 1990-1996

Box: Folder 9: 3

Board of Directors 1994-1996

Box: Folder 9: 4

Board of Directors 1987-1996

Box: Folder 9: 5

Board Meetings 1996-1997