“Lawyers who serve the public interest can use the power of the law to promote positive change and strengthen our democracy, and we believe training the next generation of public service lawyers is now more important than ever. We hope to bring together a wide array of students, academics, and professionals and to inspire current law students and young lawyers to become leaders in advancing vital civic causes.” – UC President Janet Napolitano

As we enter the second year under the current Administration in Washington D.C., California continues to lead the way in ensuring that our civil rights, and our most vulnerable populations, remain protected. Join this effort by attending the University of California’s Second Annual public service law conference: Civil Rights in the 21st Century.

The legal community has an increasingly important role in California and across the nation. Get to know the people, organizations, and systems working on the legal aspects of emerging legal issues like crimmigration, community lawyering, rural law, marijuana law and low-bono/solo practice during this day long conference. There also will be programming related to career development, including sessions on debt relief, post-graduate fellowships, and legislative advocacy and government careers.

In partnership with the UC Office of the President, Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), Berkeley Law, UCLA School of Law, UC Davis School of Law, and UC Irvine School of Law, the conference will bring together hundreds of law students, faculty members, lawyers, and nonprofit professionals committed to advancing civil rights and the public good.

We are grateful to the University of California Office of the President for their generous support of the second annual UC Public Service Law Conference.


Continuing Legal Education credits are available through various conference panels.


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 Saturday, March 2, 2019

9:00-10:00 am

Registration & Breakfast

 Booth Auditorium (Centennial Lobby)
 Room 275 Law Building

10:00-10:15 am


Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, Berkeley Law


Booth Auditorium
275 Law Building

10:15-11:15 am

Opening Remarks   (Watch live stream)

Janet Napolitano, UC President, in conversation with UC law school Deans.

Booth Auditorium
275 Law Building

11:15-11:30 am



11:30-12:45 pm

Break Out Session #1

  • Legislative Advocacy and Government Work
    • Brad Sears (Moderator) Associate Dean of Public Interest Law, UCLA School of Law 
    • Margie Estrada, Chief Council, California State Senate Judiciary Committee
    • Doug Smith, Attorney, Community Development Project at Public Counsel
    • Mica Doctoroff, Legislative Advocate, ACLU Center for Advocacy and Policy in Sacramento
    • Phyllis Marshall, Legislative Representative, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors


  • Room 100

11:30-12:45 pm

  • Public Defense and Criminal Defense
    • Alexandra Natapoff, Professor, UC Irvine School of Law
    • Dr. Elizabeth Jones,Training & Recruitment Director, Gideon’s Promise
  • Room 105

11:30-12:45 pm

  • Marijuana Law
    • Rodney Holcombe, Attorney, Drug Policy Alliance
    • Tamar Todd, Senior Director, Drug Policy Alliance
    • Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho, Senior Associate, Hinman & Carmichael LLP 
  • Room 170

12:45-2:15 pm

Networking Lunch

International House, Chevron Auditorium

2:15-3:30 pm

Break Out Session #2

  • Debt Relief
    • Aoife Delargy, Director of Law School Engagement & Advocacy, Equal Justice Works 


  • Room 100

2:15-3:30 pm

  • Immigration/Crimmigration
    • Aarti Kohli, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-ALC (San Francisco)
    • Evan Franzel, Attorney, Office of Los Angeles Public Defender
    • Genna Beier, Deputy Public Defender, San Francisco Office of the Public Defender
  • Room 105

2:15-3:30 pm

  • Rural Law
    • Ingrid Brostrom, Assistant Director, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
    • Lynn Martinez, Attorney, Legal Services of Northern California 
    • Lisa Cisneros, former LGBT Program Director, California Rural Legal Assistance
  • Room 170

3:30-3:45 pm



3:45-5:00 pm

Break Out Session #3

  • Post-Grad Fellowships
    • Angela Breining, Law Clerk, Beeson, Tayer, & Bodine 
    • Aoife Delargy, Director of Law School Engagement & Advocacy, Equal Justice Works 
    • Miguel Zavala, California Employment Lawyers Association


  • Room 100

3:45-5:00 pm

  • Community Lawyering
    • Brooke Weitzman, Attorney, Elder Law and Disability Rights Center
    • Ingrid Brostrom, Assistant Director, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
    • Sean Garcia-Leys, Attorney, Urban Peace Institute
  • Room 105

3:45-5:00 pm

  • Low Bono/Solo Practice
    • Cynthia Chandler, Director, Bay Area Legal Incubator
    • Jo-Anna Nieves, Attorney, The Nieves Law Firm
    • Autumn Paine, Criminal Defense Lawyer, Paine Criminal Defense
    • Natalia Ventsko, Attorney, Law Office of Natalia Ventsko
    • Vincent Tong, Attorney, Tong Law
    • Peter Shelton, Attorney, Peter Shelton Law
  • Room 170

5:00-6:30 pm

Dinner & Keynote Address   (Watch live stream)
Supreme Court Update

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, Berkeley Law

International House, Chevron Auditorium


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Conference Participants

Genna Beier serves the people of San Francisco as a deportation defense attorney in the Office of the San Francisco Public Defender. In her role, she has the privilege to fight alongside detained immigrants as they navigate a system designed to instill fear and uncertainty. Previously, Genna litigated removal cases and appeals as an associate attorney Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law and Pomona College. Together with classmates Lizzie Lee and Elisse Larouche, she started the student organization Berkeley Immigration Group (BIG).

Angela Yahaira Breining is a third year law student at UC Davis School of Law. Angela grew up in Live Oak, Ca, a small rural town north of Sacramento, but is originally from Sinaloa, Mexico. Prior to law school she worked as a Community Worker for California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc in the Marysville office.  Throughout law school, she has been involved in the Workers’ Rights Clinic and the Immigration Law Clinic as well as being Co-Chair for La Raza La Law Student Association and a a founding member of the First Generation Advocates Board.

As a Skadden Fellow, Angela will work with Centro Legal de la Raza to create mobile clinics that provide legal services and community education to low-wage immigrant workers in Yuba, Sutter, Butte and Colusa counties. She will focus on assisting workers with employment issues spanning from wage and hour claims to discrimination and retaliation to workplace safety.


As Director of BALI | Bay Area Legal Incubator, Cynthia Chandler’s work is 90% fairy godmother and 10% fixer – she makes attorneys’ dreams come true while keeping them out of trouble and promoting social justice. BALI is an Oakland, California-based, social-mission, legal incubator launched by the Alameda County Bar Association to accelerate the launch of affordable, community law practices.

Cynthia has over 20 years’ experience as a social entrepreneur, activist, academic and attorney. She co-founded and built several innovative social justice organizations, including Critical Resistance, Justice Now, and the Eviction Defense Center. As an attorney, her practice is equally innovative: when law does not allow the relief she seeks for her clients, she changes it. For example, she helped create the compassionate release legal process in CA and nationally, allowing a mechanism for releasing people dying in prison. Cynthia spent much of the last 10 years documenting California’s illegal policy of coercive sterilization of women in prison through 2012, and drafting successful ameliorative legislation to stop this abuse. Cynthia maintains a legislative practice, contributing to key legislation aimed at shrinking imprisonment.

Cynthia has received numerous awards for her innovative legal work, including: California Women Lawyers’ prestigious Fay Stender Award, 2015; Women’s Health Activist Network’s Top 30 Activist for Women’s Health, 2005; Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award, 2001; and California Law Business’ Attorney to Whom California Can Be Most Grateful, 1997.

Cynthia received her JD from Harvard Law School and a MPhil in Criminology from University of Cambridge.

Cynthia is the mother of two activist daughters. She learns from them daily.


Aoife Delargy Lowe is the Director of Law School Engagement & Advocacy at Equal Justice Works, where she works with law school professionals, law students, and the public interest community on issues including careers in public interest law, educational debt, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Her department facilitates short-term student fellowship opportunities, the largest public service legal career fair in the country, and educational, leadership and networking opportunities for students.

Aoife was born in New York and raised in Galway, Ireland. Barred in New York State, Aoife has a diverse background in ethical and professional responsibility compliance, public interest law, and law school administration. Previously, she served as the Associate Director of the Office of Career and Professional Development at the Catholic University, Columbus School of Law. Before becoming Associate Director, she was the law school’s Pro Bono Coordinator.

Before joining the staff of Equal Justice Works, Aoife served as a law school professional member on the organization’s National Advisory Committee. She is currently the Chair of the Irish Network D.C. (IN-DC). She was named one of the Irish Echo’s ’40 under 40′ in 2016, and in 2018 she received a D.C. Legal Hacker Award for her work with the Washington Council of Lawyers’ National Pro Bono Week Committee.


Aoife graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with a B.A.I. (French & Law) and LL.B (Law) before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2011.


Mica Doctoroff is a legislative attorney at the ACLU Center for Advocacy and Policy in Sacramento, where she works on statewide criminal justice legislation. 

Prior to joining the ACLU, she was a staff attorney for the Post Conviction Assistance Center in Los Angeles, where she represented incarcerated individuals serving third-strike sentences. Before law school, Mica was an investigator for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, where she investigated and challenged illegal criminal justice policies and practices in Georgia and Alabama. She also worked for Legal Services of South Central Michigan where she helped to provide free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Washtenaw County. 

Mica received her bachelor’s degree in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and her law degree from UCLA School of Law. While in law school, she interned at the ACLU of Southern California and the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, participated in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic, and served as co-executive director of El Centro Legal, UCLA Law’s network of student-coordinated volunteer legal clinics. She graduated with a specialization in public interest law and policy, and she was awarded the Public Interest Law Fund 3L Award. Mica is a member of the California bar.

Margie Estrada has served for three years as Chief Counsel of the California State Senate Committee on Judiciary.  She was a principal policy adviser to California State Senate leaders Kevin de León, Darrell Steinberg, and John L. Burton.  Ms. Estrada managed political campaigns, was a civil litigator in the appellate practice at Reed Smith, LLP, and organized workers for UNITE HERE.  Her over 20 years of combined experience in law, politics, and policy have made her a master at crafting, negotiating, analyzing, and enacting legislation.  Ms. Estrada received her J.D. from the U.C.L.A. Law School as a member of the Public Interest Law and Policy Program.  She received her B.A. in Rhetoric from U.C. Berkeley. 

Evan Franzel is a Deputy Public Defender for the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Prior to joining the Public Defender, Evan worked as a UC President’s Public Service Fellow in the Immigration Unit of the Los Angeles County Public Defender. He graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he was a member of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. 

Evan is the coauthor of the article “The Basic Steps a Criminal Defender Must Take to Understand the Adverse Immigration Consequences of Drug Offenses,” published in the April 2018 edition of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’s (NACDL) publication, the Champion. He is also an update author for a number of chapters in the 2018 Continuing Education of the Bar California (CEB) practice guide, Criminal Defense of Immigrants. 

Sean Garcia-Leys is Senior Staff Attorney at the Connie Rice Institute for Urban Peace (“UPI”), where he works to address the overbroad targeting of communities for gang suppression. Mr. Garcia-Leys leads UPI’s community lawyering services and direct legal services. He litigates gang injunction cases on behalf of individuals wrongly accused of active gang participation, provides direct legal services for individuals seeking removal from gang injunctions or gang databases, and seeks judicial and legislative means to end counter-productive and unconstitutional gang suppression strategies.

Mr. Garcia-Leys also testifies as a gang expert in immigration proceedings. He has been quoted in newspapers from the Los Angeles Times to Breitbart. He was awarded the 2017 Chicano Hero Award by Chicanos Unidos and the 2018 Equal Justice Award by the ACLU of Southern California.

Before joining the Urban Peace Institute, Mr. Garcia-Leys worked for over a decade as a public high school teacher in Watts and Lincoln Heights. Before his career in education, Mr. Garcia-Leys worked as a labor union organizer. Mr. Garcia-Leys holds a J.D. from the University of California Irvine School of Law.

Rodney Holcombe is a staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. In his role, Holcombe drafts legislation and amicus briefs and engages in policy advocacy and public education in support of drug law reform. He has presented before state and local legislative bodies on a number of issues, including the creation of equity in the cannabis industry, expungement and post-conviction relief, and reparative justice. He regularly speaks at conferences across the country, joins podcasts and radio programs, and engages with media to advance drug policy reform. Holcombe first joined DPA as a legal fellow, and hosted numerous legal clinics across California to offer post-conviction relief services to low-income people with prior convictions.

Holcombe is an avid supporter of compassionate and evidence-based solutions that curb drug use disorder, prioritize public health, and promote responsible use, as well as efforts to call attention to and end the drug war’s devastating impact on communities of color. He received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and his B.A. in Journalism from Howard University.

Dr. Elizabeth Jones is the Training and Recruitment Director at Gideon’s Promise, an organization that views public defenders as the vehicle to change the criminal justice system. She graduated from Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 2009 and began her career as a public defender in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Gideon’s Promise partner office. After leaving the Orleans Public Defender, Ms. Jones returned home to Louisville, Kentucky and clerked with the appeals division of the Louisville Metro Public Defender while beginning a career in academia. Before joining the Gideon’s Promise staff she serve as an Endowed Chair in the Pan-African Studies Department at the University of Louisville teaching classes and researching race and the law while maintaining her own law practice. In 2018 she received her doctorate in Urban and Public Affairs from the University of Louisville.        

Aarti Kohli landed in Queens, NY as a seven-year-old with her family and saw first-hand what it means to be a struggling immigrant in the U.S. She is currently the Executive Director at Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, the first organization in the country to represent and promote the legal and civil rights of Asian and Pacific Islander communities. At Advancing Justice- ALC she oversees key program areas including National Security and Civil Rights, Immigration, and Criminal Justice Reform. She also helps guide the state and national policy work of the Advancing Justice affiliation with partners in LA, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington DC. Formerly, she was the Director of Immigration Policy at the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law where one of her key projects involved creating an intensive immigration seminar for professional journalists. Prior to her work in California, she worked in Washington, DC, as Judiciary Committee counsel to Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) and as Assistant Legislative Director at UNITE union where she lobbied on behalf of low-income garment workers who were primarily immigrant women.

Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho is a graduate of Stanford Law School and cannabis law expert providing legal support to entrepreneurs. Formerly corporate counsel at Privateer Holdings, Ms. Lencho seeks to help companies, lawmakers and consumers navigate the complex regulatory environment of medicinal and adult-use cannabis globally. She currently practices in both the alcohol and cannabis space as an attorney with Hinman & Carmichael in San Francisco. She is co-founder and former Board Chair of Supernova Women, an organization holding space for women of color in cannabis. Ms. Lencho previously served as Mayor Libby Schaaf’s appointee to the Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission.


In May of 2016 Phyllis Marshall served as the Chief Legislative Representative for Los Angeles County. In this role Marshall directed the Legislative advocacy of the County before the California Legislature, and the Governors office. In November of 2017 Phyllis Marshall joined the Office of Los Angeles County Counsel as the Chief Legislative Counsel. In this role, Marshall serves as part of the Executive committee providing strategic counsel to County Counsel on legal, legislative and regulatory matters.

Lynn Martinez became the Managing Attorney at Legal Services of Northern California – Redwood Regional Office in April 2017. In this capacity, Lynn manages the legal services provided in the three most Northwestern counties of California. Prior to joining LSNC, Lynn was Managing Attorney and a Senior Housing Litigator at Western Center on Law and Poverty (2002-2017) and a staff attorney at the National Housing Law Project (2000-2002). Lynn practices housing and civil rights law, specializing in land use, fair housing, and mobilehome park residency protections.  Lynn is involved in a number of community organizations and outreach efforts in Northern California. She also currently serves as Vice Chair of the Humboldt County Housing Trust Fund and Homelessness Solutions Committee, a political appointment by the County Board of Supervisors.

Professor Natapoff’s scholarship has won numerous awards, including a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Law and Society Association Article Prize, and two Outstanding Scholarship Awards from the AALS Criminal Justice Section. Her new book, Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal (Basic Books, 2018), describes the powerful influence that misdemeanors exert over the entire U.S. criminal system. It was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2018. 

Professor Natapoff is also author of Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice (NYU Press) which won the ABA Silver Gavel Award Honorable Mention for Books; her original work on criminal informants has made her a nationally-recognized expert.  Professor Natapoff is a member of the American Law Institute; in 2015 she was appointed as an Adviser to the ALI Policing Project. She has helped draft legislation at both the state and federal levels and is quoted frequently by major media outlets.

Prior to joining the academy, Professor Natapoff served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland, and was the recipient of an Open Society Institute Community Fellowship. She clerked for the Honorable David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, and for the Honorable Paul L. Friedman, U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C.

Jo-Anna Nieves has been named a Rising Star SuperLawyer for the last four years in a row and is the owner of the Nieves Law Firm, APC where she and her team take the criminal out of criminal defense. The mission of the firm is to restore the reputation of those who have been accused of crimes and help them plan for the future. Her aim is for every member of her team to operate with the highest levels of truth, restoration, action, compassion, and knowledge.  Jo-Anna is the Vice-Chair of the ACBA Judicial Appointments Evaluation Committee, volunteers as a mock trial coach for El Centro Legal de la Raza’s Youth Law Academy and is a member of the Earl Warren Inns of Court. She has received Distinguished Service award from the Alameda County Bar Association and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the ACBA

With more than ten years’ experience as a criminal defense attorney, Autumn Paine works with people charged with all kinds of crimes and juveniles in delinquency proceedings, as well as with people seeking post-conviction relief.  No matter the allegations, Autumn believes that every person is entitled to a zealous defense and to equal access to justice, and her goal is to give each client the most thorough, persuasive defense possible.  Throughout her career Autumn has worked with in the Kern and Lassen County Public Defender’s offices and in private practice as a member of the ACBA’s Court Appointed Attorney Program (CAAP).   Committed to supporting the legal community, she currently serves as a Governor for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), a Director for the Alameda County Bar Association, is a past board member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County, and is a long-time member of the California Public Defender’s Association. 

Peter Shelton has a small trusts and estates practice in Berkeley. He is certified by the California State Bar as a Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law. He serves as a Temporary Judge for the California Superior Court, Alameda County and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Alameda County Bar Association.

Peter graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1983. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washington College of Law in Washington DC in 1996. Peter clerked for The Hon. Donald S. Russell (d. 1998.), United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, then joined the antitrust practice at Morgan Lewis and Bockius. He served as the Assistant General Counsel for Litigation for the American Red Cross in Washington, DC. Peter later returned with his family to California, where he opened his practice in 2010.

Doug Smith is a Staff Attorney in the Community Development Project at Public Counsel, where he works with community-based organizations, community organizers, and resident leaders in low-income communities across Los Angeles County to advance a variety of grassroots movements for social justice and equity. Smith joined Public Counsel in 2013 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow.

In addition to his work as a Staff Attorney, Smith was a Lecturer of Law at the UCLA School of Law during the Fall, 2018 semester, where he co-taught the Community Economic Development Clinic. Smith has also been appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission and served as Commission Chair in 2017. He has also served as a speaker and panelist at a variety of conferences and academic institutions. Smith’s publications have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, KCET, UCLA Law Review Discourse, and the Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development, among others.

Smith received his B.A. cum laude in Political Science and History from the University of Oregon. He earned his J.D. at UCLA School of Law, and M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA School of Public Affairs. While in law school, Smith was the Emil Joseph Stache Scholar, specialized in public interest law and policy, and was a Managing Editor for the Journal of Environmental Law & Policy.


Tamar Todd directs DPA’s Office of Legal Affairs. She is responsible for developing and overseeing the organization’s legal work as it relates to legislative drafting, policy advocacy, litigation, and public education in local, state and federal jurisdictions.
Todd has particular expertise in marijuana decriminalization, legalization, and regulation, and she co-authored several state and local ballot initiatives and statutes, including Amendment 64 in Colorado and Proposition 64 in California. She has advised on efforts to legalize the production and distribution of marijuana internationally, and she has testified in numerous legislative and government bodies in the United States and abroad on the issue of drug policy and the intersection of state and federal law. 
Todd currently serves as the Vice Chair of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Advisory Committee, which was established to assist with the implementation of California’s legalization law. She also teaches a course on  Marijuana Law and Policy at U.C. Berkeley School of Law and a course on  Drug Law and Policy at U.C. Davis School of Law.
Todd received her B.A. from the University of Vermont and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Emmet Sullivan on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and she spent several years representing death row inmates as a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta.

Vincent Tong is the owner of TONG LAW, an employment and business law practice based in Oakland, California. Vincent exclusively represents plaintiffs in employment litigation and business-to-business disputes. He is a tenacious litigator and a zealous advocate for his clients. Vincent has taken three cases to trial, in which he served as lead counsel, co-counsel and second chair counsel. In
his business transactions practice, Vincent advises, counsels and supports his business clients on matters pertaining to business formation, employment law compliance and monitoring and protecting their intellectual property rights.

Vincent serves as the vice president for the Board of Directors for the Alameda County Bar Association and sits on the Executive Board for the California Employment Lawyers Association. Vincent regularly provides pro-bono legal services to low-income communities through the Employment Law Center’s Workers Rights Clinic, AIDS Legal Referral Panel and California
Lawyers for the Arts.

Vincent is the 2016 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for New Attorney from the Alameda County Bar Association. He has been selected as a Super Lawyers – Rising Star, Northern California, each year since 2015. You can find him online at:


Natasha Ventsko is an attorney and a social worker. She received her BSW from San Jose State University, Juris Doctorate from Loyola College of Law New Orleans, MSW from Southern University of New Orleans, and a LL.M in Taxation at the University of San Francisco.

Natasha is a participant of the Alameda County Bar Association’s (ACBA) incubator program- Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI). In partnership with BALI Natasha has launched a solo tax practice where she focuses on providing tax assistance to modest means clients. In particular, Natasha’s practice aims to provide education and representation to individuals and small business with tax planning and tax controversy needs.

In addition to working as an attorney, Natasha’s most recent work incudes co-founding We Re-Member- an educational effort aimed at highlighting the Middle Passage and its residual impact, and co-founding the Fillmore Heritage Center Equity Project- an initiative to activate the Fillmore Heritage Center to provide event spaces to community members and business owners with the intent to preserve the areas history, music, and heritage.

 A member of only the third class at UCI Law, Brooke had the opportunity to make significant contributions to the school as a student leader. As a student she received awards from her peers, actively engaged the community, and completed over 430 hours of pro bono work. She also planned symposia including “Opposing the Criminalization of Homelessness: Building a Human Rights Framework” and “Prisoner’s Access to Justice: Exploring Legal, Medical, Mental Health, and Education Rights.”

After graduating in 2014, she began working toward increased access to legal services and increasing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession through her work with the ABA and local bar associations. Brooke provided legal services to veterans as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with the Public Law Center. She worked to ensure access to justice; prevent homelessness; increase employment; and other civil legal services to protect the rights of our veterans.  By 2016, Brooke joined Bill Wise to found the first sliding scale legal service organization in Orange County, the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center.  

At the ELDR Center, she has successfully litigated federal cases to change the County response to the housing crisis. As a result, she was selected by OC Register as most influential in 2018. At the same time, she has worked to grow the young non-profit and serve the needs of seniors, people with disabilities, and their families. The Center provides free clinics and low cost legal services in an effort to close the justice gap for those who cannot otherwise access the help that they need. In this capacity she has helped to prevent elder abuse; assisted families to make end of life plans with dignity; and more.

She continues to have an active role in the community services on local boards including the Thurgood Marshall Bar Association, Constitutional Rights Foundation, National Lawyers Guild, and UCI Law Alumni Association. In these roles, she takes time to mentor and teach students and recent graduates who wish to pursue careers in public interest or find ways to incorporate service into careers in the private sector.


In addition to public interest strategies such as impact litigation and direct legal services, legislative lawyering is a critical career path for creating change and advocating on behalf of communities.  Legislative lawyers develop an overlapping, but different, set of skills than those who work primarily in courts, and have a different set of job opportunities.  However, many public interest lawyers working for traditional public interest legal organizations often find themselves falling into a legislative lawyering role in order to fully advocate for the communities they care about.   During this panel, three incredible legislative lawyers working in California will share their current work, career paths, and advice for pursuing legislative lawyering full-time or as part of your public interest practice.

Drawing on recent experience ending the criminalization of street vendors, ending laws that stigmatize people living with HIV, and criminal justice reform more generally, the panel will be moderated by Brad Sears, Associate Dean of Public Interest Law at UCLA School of Law, and feature Mica Doctroff, Legislative Attorney of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy; Margie Estrada, Chief Counsel of the California State Senate Judiciary Committee; and Doug Smith,  Staff Attorney – Community Development, Public Counsel.

The Art of Legislative Lawyering and the Six Circles Theory of Advocacy
Chai R. Feldblum Georgetown University Law Center,

Session approved for 1.25 CLE credits

This session will both educate attendees about a powerful, but overlooked part of criminal justice –the misdemeanor system; and educate attendees about post-graduate options for employment in criminal defense.  First, attendees will hear from Prof. Alexandra Natapoff, author of Punishment Without Crime: Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes American More Unequal.  Prof. Natapoff will share her research into a system that results in the poor and people of color being stigmatized as criminals, impoverished through fines and fees, and stripped of drivers’ licenses, jobs, and housing.  Second, Dr. Elizabeth Jones, Training and Recruitment Director of Gideon’s Promise, will speak about how to search for post-graduate employment as a public defender—both through Gideon’s Promise fellowships in underserved communities, and other opportunities around the U.S.

How have the practice of marijuana law, and the legal/policy structure around it, developed in California during the last few years of rapid change? What is needed going forward? This panel will look at both big-picture policy questions and at the kinds of individual representation practitioners are doing. The discussion will center racial justice and equity issues, asking how the development of the law/policy and the day-to-day practice of marijuana law has reflected, or failed to reflect, the input and needs of communities who have traditionally been targeted by marijuana restrictions and criminalization.

The Basic Steps a Criminal Defender Must Take to Understand the Adverse Immigration Consequences of Drug Offenses, Evan Franzel and Graciela Martinez, Public Defender, Los Angeles, California

Session approved for 1.25 CLE credits

The amount of debt incurred by students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees is staggering and growing every year, but fortunately, there are programs that can help you achieve your career goals without drowning in debt. Join Equal Justice Works for a student debt update and information on how to repay your loans and earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This session will review how to reduce monthly student loan payments, qualify for PSLF, and take advantage of Loan Repayment Assistance Programs. We’ll also give a legislative update on the movement in Congress to eliminate PSLF and how you can take action to preserve it.

Immigrants have been bearing the disproportionate consequences of criminal convictions for years, but under a current Presidential administration laser-focused on detention and deportation, this issue is more urgent than ever. This session will highlight current issues facing non-profit lawyers and public defenders with immigrant clients facing the criminal-immigration intersection (“crim-imm”), including issues like the deportation of Southeast Asian refugees and the role of public defenders in mitigating criminal justice consequences for immigrant clients. In addition, the panelists will speak from their experience about how to pursue work in crim-imm practice, what their offices seek in law clerks and attorneys, and where they see this work going in the next few years.

ACLU Report: L.A. Public Defender’s Office ill-equipped to handle noncitizen cases, ACLU SoCal Communications and Media Advocacy

The Basic Steps a Criminal Defender Must Take to Understand the Adverse Immigration Consequences of Drug Offenses, Evan Franzel and Graciela Martinez, Public Defender, Los Angeles, California

How California’s Trust Act shaped the debate on the new ‘sanctuary state’ proposal, Jazmine Ulloa, LA Times

US judge challenges federal government’s claim California sought to stymie immigration enforcement, Jeff Daniels, CNBC

Judge orders ICE to give notice before detaining some Cambodians for deportation, Charles Lam, NBC News

Trump’s reversal of policy on deporting Vietnamese immigrants shakes San Jose’s Little Saigon communitySarah Ravani and Steve Rubenstein, SF Chronicle

A Judge Has Blocked ICE From Conducting Raids On Cambodian Immigrants, For Now, Salvador Hernandez, BuzzFeed News

ICE Deported Yet Another Group Of Cambodian Immigrants, Kimberly Yam, Huffington Post

Session approved for 1.25 CLE credits

Interested in making a difference in closing the access to justice gap? Want to work somewhere where your legal degree can make a huge impact? Each year at least one third of low-income rural people need legal services for basic human needs and the availability of legal aid is sparse. Join us in a discussion about what it means to practice rural law and how rural California can be a great place to start your public interest career.

Post-graduate public interest fellowships are an excellent way to begin your career in public interest law. From project based to in-house fellowships, there are a variety of ways to gain experience as a new graduate and make connections to launch your career. Join us as we discuss the various fellowships and hear from experts on how to set yourself up for post-grad fellowship success in law school.

Hear from attorneys that are not just helping communities tackle legal issues identified by the attorneys, but rather working alongside clients to meet the legal needs identified by the community members themselves. Learn about the panelists’ paths to community lawyering, including creating their own non-profits and positions at non-traditional organizations. Panelists include Ingrid Brostrom of The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, who leads CRPE’s Toxic-Free Communities campaign, which seeks to eliminate or reduce toxic threats in California’s low-income communities and communities of color. Brooke Weitzman co-founded the Elder Law Disability Rights center, and is currently co-counsel on Federal litigation, which is currently pending and changing the way that OC serves the homeless. Sean Garcia-Leys initially secured a fellowship and then a staff attorney position as one of just two attorneys at the Urban Peace Institute, focusing his work on the overbroad targeting of communities for gang suppression.

What options are there for new lawyers to start their own practice? How can you fit pro bono work into your own private practice? This panel will focus on how to build a practice using Pro Bono work, ways to weave Pro Bono into a solo practice, and ways that solo practitioners have social impact.



To register, please click here or visit:

Registration closes February 22, 2019


Limited conference lodging is available at the nearby Graduate Hotel and Claremont Resort Hotel.

Deadline to request lodging was Thursday, February 7, 2019. 

Any remaining rooms will be given on a first come, first served basis.



Parking & Directions:

  • Location: UC Berkeley, School of Law


For questions regarding program, please contact:

Associate Director for Public Interest/Public Sector Programs


For questions regarding conference logistics (including lodging), please contact:

Director, Berkeley Law Event Services