Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area was founded with the belief that advancing racial justice is the central component of any true civil rights movement. Our core programs remain focused on addressing structural racism and ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice.
The disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans is a major focus of our current work. In particular, the stigma of a criminal conviction can follow individuals - particularly African-Americans - well beyond the walls of jails and prison into their communities, serving as a barrier to employment, housing and successful rehabilitation. We are addressing this need through our Second Chance Legal Services Clinic.
Lawyers' Committee champions racial justice though advocacy and impact litigation that covers a wide spectrum of work, including the areas of voting rights, education, housing, public contracting, criminal justice reform, and equal access to municipal services. Our current projects include:
- Educational Equity: Lawyers' Committee's educational equity work looks at issues in education that are impacting low-income students of color throughout the Bay Area. We assist community based organizations, parents, and students in leveraging the law to identify and create community-based solutions for issues in our schools.
Among the issues we address are:
- Educational equity within districts
- School desegregation and district student assignment plans
For more information, contact Cecilia Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 email@example.com. Please note that we generally do not handle individual cases, but focus instead on class actions or other matters seeking systemic reform.
- Equity in Access to Municipal Services: Lawyers’ Committee has been active in ensuring that minority and low-income communities are receiving equitable access to municipal services. In June 2011, Lawyers’ Committee reached a settlement with the City of Modesto and Stanislaus County that remedies many of the discrepancies in public services for the county’s Latino neighborhoods. These neighborhoods had not been included in previous city annexations, remaining unincorporated and without services (including sewage, sidewalks, streetlights and police protection) provided to residents in adjacent communities. For more information, contact Oren Sellstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reentry and Criminal Justice Reform: Lawyers' Committee's reentry and criminal justice reform work seeks to address the racial and civil rights injustices embedded in today’s system of mass incarceration. In California, an estimated 1 in 4 adults has a criminal record, and communities of color are disproportionately affected. Through our impact work, we collaborate with community-based organizations and legal partners to challenge the racial and civil rights injustices resulting from the criminal justice system.
Among the issues we address are:
- Voting rights of formerly incarcerated individuals
- Access to criminal records remedies (i.e. “expungement”)
- Discrimination in employment and housing
For more information, contact Meredith Desautels at email@example.com.