Ever since Bet Tzedek’s inception in 1974, the free legal-services firm has mostly been housed in the heavily Jewish Fairfax district, with additional offices in the San Fernando Valley and the Mid-Wilshire area. In August, it consolidated all three into a single headquarters in Koreatown and will officially celebrate the move this week.
There are many advantages to this change, according to Bet Tzedek officials.
Its new, larger space at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue will better serve the organization’s clients, said David Bubis, vice president for development at Bet Tzedek. In the past, when clients arrived with more than one legal problem, they often had to visit multiple Bet Tzedek sites. Now they can receive all the services in one place, which also allows Bet Tzedek to work more collaboratively.
The offices include intake offices, staff offices, a multipurpose room and a calling center. At the previous location, some employees worked out of closets. Bubis said the new larger space accommodates not just Bet Tzedek’s 70 staff members, but also the flood of attorneys, paralegals and students who volunteer at the organization.
“It really is much more professional. It looks like a law firm now, which is the way it should look,” he said.
The move makes sense in terms of clients’ demographics, as well. When Bet Tzedek was founded in the 1970s, it exclusively served the elderly Jewish community, for which Fairfax was a hub. Now Bet Tzedek serves Jews and non-Jews.
The move came out of necessity. Bet Tzedek could not afford to enter into a new lease at its former site: The neighborhood’s rent has risen as Fairfax became trendier, Bubis said. Bet Tzedek has signed a 10-year lease for the new location, which includes the entire 13th floor as well as three-quarters of the 14th floor of a 22-story office building at 3250 Wilshire Blvd.
David Wilstein, a leader in the Jewish community, owns the building, and was instrumental in convincing Bet Tzedek to make the move.
The organization has come a long way since its founding, when a group of 18 friends came together to start it, each pledging $5 per month to pay for a storefront office on Fairfax Avenue.
“We’re all very happy in the new offices,” Bubis said.