Firm Overview

My focus is tenant rights. Primarily, I sue landlords for grossly substandard conditions. I also represent tenants who have suffered accidents due to landlord negligence and tenants who have been wrongfully evicted from their homes. My practice ranges from representing single individuals to multi-plaintiff lawsuits in large complexes. I have represented clients in a number of forums, from local rent boards through class action lawsuits in State and Federal court. I have represented elderly and ill tenants whose landlords took advantage of their circumstances to try to evict them or to neglect the property. Recently, I have developed a small sideline of bringing lawsuits on behalf of persons who have been abused by security guards, both on rental properties and in other settings.

I have been in solo practice since 1986. From the beginning, I have been a tenant advocate.

Example cases

In a fairly typical case, I represented twenty-five families in a crime-ridden multi-unit apartment complex in East Oakland. We sued the former owners, managers and the entity which put the property into receivership but then refused to make repairs. After a hard-fought battle, each client received a substantial settlement. At the other end of the size spectrum (but no less hard-fought), I represented a tenant who was locked out by his landlord when he was away due to illness. That case also ended in a substantial settlement, just weeks before trial was scheduled. Of course, not all of my cases end in major settlements. However, I work hard to obtain the best outcome possible given the circumstances of each case.

Main Office

Main
1814 Franklin Street
Suite 1030
Oakland  CA  94612

Phone
  • (510) 451-3103
Fax
  • (510) 451-9240

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?

$50 per half hour for document review and initial consultation. Often, it saves time for the client to drop off documents for my review prior to the consultation.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

Most of the cases I litigate are taken on a contingency basis.

Hourly Rates

Variable, depending on the nature of the case, what is at issue, and client circumstances. Range: $100 - $400 per hour.

Office Information

Office Hours

Varied.

Generally 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Office Manager

None

Emergency After Hours

Yes

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

I enjoy helping people stand up to those who abuse economic power.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

I enjoy working with clients who take an active interest in their cases, including its legal aspects. It is a pleasure to be able to strategize with clients who are both smart and savvy. The extent of involvement in the case differs between clients. With all my clients, I try to provide enough information so that the client has a basic understanding of what is going on because, ultimately, the client must make the important decisions regarding resolution of the case.

On the other hand I find it unproductive when a client insists on input into every procedural step of the litigation.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I am willing to review documents prepared by clients.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

I am willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves in small claims cases or administrative proceedings.

Leah Hess

I have been a tenant attorney for over twenty years. Prior to that, I worked as a gardener for over ten years, both in a self-employed capacity and for a municipal park and recreation department. As a parks worker, I was the Chief Shop Steward for a small local AFSME, handling member grievances through arbitration.

I became a lawyer at age 41. The variety of life experiences I brought to my career, from political involvement to being a chief shop steward of a union, has made me a better lawyer.

I have extensive litigation experience. I enjoy client communications. I have excellent legal analysis and writing skills. I am tenacious.

Personal interests:

I love gardening, reading (primarily history and contemporary literature), and birdwatching. I have gone no further than the advanced dilettante stage in any of these activities.

License
  • Bar Number: 126800
    California , 1986
Education
  • New College of California School of Law
    Juris Doctorate , 1986
    San Francisco, CA
  • San Diego State University
    Bachelor of Arts , 1970
    San Diego, CA

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