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Growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, Cristina Besher spent her days baking for friends and family and eating all things chocolate. In 2006, after Cristina moved to San Francisco, Kika's Treats was born - a line of cookies, graham crackers and cakes handmade with local, natural ingredients and dipped in chocolate.

When Cristina came to LSE in 2007 for advice about entity formation, O'Melveny & Myers attorneys volunteered to counsel her. As Cristina's business developed and she had concerns about protecting her brand, her attorneys agreed to represent her in trademark matters.

Reflecting on the past three years, Cristina stated, "I would never have been able to afford this kind of help on my own; I'm just so happy to have them on my side."

Racial Justice

Economic Equality

In order to advance racial justice, we must also fight for economic justice. Core to our mission is the commitment to increasing economic opportunities for underserved communities. Our direct services programs and impact projects are focused on overcoming barriers to advancement and building the economic power of communities of color and immigrant communities.

Direct Services

According to recent census data, in San Francisco and Oakland more than 10% of all families live in poverty. Yet, 22% of those living below the poverty line are immigrants, 20% are African-American, 21% are Asian American, and 28% are Latino. We are directly responding to this longstanding economic inequality through money management workshops, which address issues from banking to credit issues, and through our Legal Services for Entrepreneurs program, where we provide free business legal advice and services to low-income clients who are starting or expanding their own businesses, and to businesses that invest directly in economically distressed neighborhoods.

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Impact Work

Lawyers' Committee champions economic justice through advocacy and impact litigation that covers a wide spectrum of work, including the areas of employment, public contracting, and micro-enterprise development. Among the issues we have addressed are:

  • Money Management Workshop: Low-income individuals are frequently targeted by predatory lenders and often spend more on financial goods and services than other individuals. Lawyers' Committee is working to combat this dilemma by leading workshops at community-based organizations to empower individuals to gain financial control of their lives.
    We provide workshops on a range of financial issues, particularly on credit scores, and why to and how to bank.

    If your organization or community is interested in our workshops, please contact Miya Saika Chen at Mchen@lccr.com

  • Day Laborer Rights: Lawyers’ Committee has been active in the fight to ensure the rights of day laborers to seek work. In a recent victory in February 2012, the United States Supreme Court denied the City of Redondo Beach's request to review the Ninth Circuit decision which found the City's ordinance prohibiting solicitation of employment, business, or contributions on city streets and sidewalks unconstitutional. The 2004 case of Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach originated after undercover police officers posed as employers, hiring day laborers and then arresting them for soliciting work. The district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both ruled in favor of the day laborers, siding with the argument that their right to seek work is protected under the right to free speech. The Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case has effectively ended any further challenges to this ruling. The precedent-setting case was litigated by the Lawyers’ Committee and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

  • Domestic Worker Rights:We have successfully represented and litigated a number of landmark cases to uphold the rights of domestic workers. In partnership with La Raza Centro Legal and pro bono attorneys at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, we recently successfully obtained an award of $600,000 on behalf of a Peruvian domestic worker who was trafficked and enslaved by a family in Walnut Creek. The landmark judgment is one of the largest on record for a trafficking case, and established an important precedent of domestic worker rights and trafficking victims’ services.

  • Equal Opportunity in Contracting: Lawyers' Committee is a leader in the fight to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have equal opportunity to compete for public contracts. Most recently, we successfully represented small minority business owners in pursuing a civil rights complaint to ensure that California's high speed rail contracting - the largest public works project in the nation - is conducted in a manner that ensures fair and equitable contracting opportunities for all.

    We also represent a coalition of minority business contractors in a federal court case involving Caltrans' Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, seeking to preserve the program's efforts to ensure equitable contracting for small businesses. If you are minority business owner concerned about contracting equity, please contact Oren Sellstrom at osellstrom@lccr.com. Please note that we generally do not handle individual cases, but focus instead on class actions or other matters seeking systemic reform.

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In the Spotlight

07.18.14 - Lawyers' Committee featured in East Bay Express cover story ,"Coming Home" - an examination of reentry and realignment issues in Oakland and San Francisco, citing, among other things, our recently launched Alameda County project , which seeks to promote successful reentry by addressing the need for meaningful economic opportunity for formerly incarcerated people.

05.21.14 - "Traffic court is a judicial dead end for California's working poor" In an op-ed in the Daily Journal, Legal Director, Oren Sellstrom, describes the unreasonable challenge traffic courts pose for working class and poor people who find themselves in a maze of never ending and exorbitant debt from which they practically have no way out. The consequences of this situation can be dire, limiting many people’s ability to earn a living and participate fully in society. Also read this letter to San Francisco Superior Court about proposed changes to local traffic court rules that would exacerbate the problems and disparities described in the op-ed.  

05.13.14 - Brown v. Board of Education at 60: Examining Racial Equity in San Francisco. On Tuesday, May 13, at the California Historical Society, @ 6-8pm, join a panel of esteemed community leaders for a discussion celebrating recent achievements in San Francisco public schools, and examining the future of educational opportunity for racially diverse student populations. The program will include student reflections, and an interactive audience discussion. The event is free. Please click here to register and get event location.

03.18.14 -  HOT OFF THE PRESS! Lawyers’ Committee releases a new study, "Voting Rights Barriers and Discrimination in Twenty-First Century California: 2000-2013", based on an in-depth study of voting discrimination in California over the past 13 years, and exposes a trend in voting rights violations and disenfranchisement throughout the state. To read more, click here

02.05.14 - LCCR is pleased to announce the passage of the Fair Chance Act by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim, and co-sponsored by Supervisor Malia Cohen, the Fair Chance Act will strengthen and expand the City’s current fair hiring policies, known commonly as “ban the box,” to private businesses, affordable housing, and contracting, and remove unnecessary barriers to stable housing and employment for individuals with conviction records.

01.30.14 - An historic settlement was reached on January 23, 2014, in a class action lawsuit between immigration authorities and immigrants who are held in custody during their civil immigration proceedings in San Francisco. The settlement brings an end to the federal government’s practice of forcing detained immigrants to go through their civil immigration hearings in handcuffs, leg irons, and chains.Settlement Agreement Notices Posted in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Punjabi.

01.24.14 - SAVE THE DATE -We Who Believe in Justice Cannot Wait... Celebrating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act. Friday, January 24, 2014 - Click here for sponsorship and ticket forms.

The 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon - The Westin St. Francis (on Union Square); 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Reception - 11:00 a.m.; Luncheon & Program - 11:45 a.m. E-mail: mlk@lccr.com or call: 415.543.9444 x203

12.12.13 -

Please join Board Co-Chair, Pamela Y. Price, at a special holiday gathering of the membership to celebrate the accomplishments of the Lawyers' Committee.

Thursday, December 12, 2013. Price And Associates - 901 Clay Street; Oakland, CA 94607.

Wine and light hors d'oeuvres will be served. RSVP - asouza@lccr.com


11.19.13 - William Tamayo, Regional Attorney, U.S. EEOC, to give keynote address at Lawyers' Committee 45th Annual Meeting of the Membership on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, generously hosted by Latham & Watkins, LLP, 505 Montgomery Street; Suite 2000; San Francisco, CA 94111-6538. Reception - 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Program - 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

RSVP: asouza@lccr.com

11.08.13 - Immigrant Rights ARE Civil Rights! The current issue of Clearinghouse Review - Journal of Poverty Law and Policy features "Closing the Gap in Understanding Immigrant Rights as Civil Rights", by authors Cecilia Chen, Thurgood Marshall Fellow, and Robin Goldfaden, Senior Attorney, Immigrant Justice, who chronicle the history of immigration in the United States and underscore how the struggle for immigrant rights has always been a struggle for civil rights.