About Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom


Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is the nation's oldest and largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers.

BALIF was founded to encourage LGBT legal professionals to apply to become judges. At the time there were no openly LGBT judges. Today there are many!

BALIF also started the organization that grew to become the now-independent AIDS Legal Referral Panel, which has provided free and low-cost legal assistance to over 72,000 people since it was founded in 1983.

Today, BALIF’s mission has expanded. The group takes action on questions of law and justice that affect the LGBT community; strengthens professional and social ties among LGBT members of the legal profession; builds coalitions with other legal organizations to combat all forms of discrimination; promotes the appointment of LGBT attorneys to the judiciary, public agencies and commissions in the Bay Area; funds scholarships for LGBT laws students and fellowships for public interest lawyers working on LGBT issues, and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information of concern to members of the LGBT legal community. BALIF also submits amicus briefs in cases affecting the LGBT community, sponsors resolutions to the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, provides LGBT-focused continuing legal education opportunities and endorses candidates for judicial offices and legal elected positions.

If you want to get involved in any of these activities, please look around the website and send an email to the appropriate Committee Chair. Or just send an email to chair@balif.org and we can direct you to the right person.

BALIF is committed to building coalitions with other minority bars, as well. One of our board members serves on the executive committee of the Minority Bar Coalition of San Francisco, we fund a joint scholarship with La Raza Lawyers, and last year we reached out to Charles Houston Bar Association by hosting our dinner during Black History Month.

The Annual Gala is one of the most popular BALIF events of the year. Many public officials attend the gala, past attendees have included legislators, mayors, district attorneys, labor commissioners, and other public officials, in addition to over 600 members of the community.

Organization sponsorship of BALIF funds most of BALIF’s work, and a list of this year's sponsors set forth on this website shortly.