December 2018 Newsletter

"We talk about the sort of minimum, the floor that we all ought to be entitled to and that floor seems to sink lower and lower sometimes. It's our job as public lawyers to make sure that we are holding that line."


Hi friends,

I am sending this note from Chicago, where I just finished exciting meetings with a few potential 2019 government partners for PRP and I’m reminiscing on what we’ve accomplished in 2018. (Yes, I am missing the California weather.)

I cannot even begin to emphasize what an enormous year we’ve had in the fight for public rights.

(c) Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

(c) Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Our inaugural fellow David Ureña led a town hall of tenants in Massachusetts to ensure that all residents know their rights and that they have a voice.

Our Justice Catalyst Fellow Callie Wilson is working hard at the Oakland City Attorney’s Office. Oakland, alongside Centro Legal De La Raza, recently secured a settlement on behalf of Matilda Cortez and her colleagues, who were denied sick leave and overtime pay by Quality Inn near the airport.

This is why we do this work. Because we believe that regardless of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status, all tenants deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and all workers should receive the hard-earned pay they deserve.

This is just the beginning. As we turn the page to 2019, will you #JoinTheFight and ensure that our justice system works for everyone, not just the privileged few?

With gratitude, 
Jill Habig
Founder & President


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Your help has been critical to our ability to meet the high demand for legal talent and resources among public law offices across the country. You made this possible. Thanks to you we have raised $37,684.15 toward our $50K goal. Every dollar we receive from now until December 31st will be matched until we reach our $50k goal!

Will you help us reach the finish line? Join the fight and every $1 you give will help us grow our fellowship in 2019.


Last week, our team gathered for a three-day retreat in The Presidio to reflect on the many milestones we’ve reached this year: from growing our staff to launching our inaugural cohort of fellows, from our work being featured in journals and publications across the nation to embarking on a historic partnership with the the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

There weren’t enough post-its and markers to cover the ideas our amazing team has, as we enter another year and as we seek to cultivate the next generation of leadership our country desperately needs. Stay tuned for exciting announcements in January!

(Shout out to Futures Without Violence and The Million Person Project for helping make last week a success!)


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EXCITING NEWS:  We are thrilled to announce that LiJia Gong has joined Public Rights Project as our inaugural Staff Attorney!

LiJia, Georgetown Law ‘13, is an attorney with a background in litigation, policy and political strategy.

Prior to joining PRP, LiJia worked on the 2018 campaign to re-elect Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and served as a law clerk for Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and as a law fellow for Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

As the newest member of our team, LiJia will be instrumental in our strategic engagement with our partner offices across the country, providing legal support, resources and capacity on matters involving wage theft, employment discrimination, fair housing, and more. Welcome to the team, LiJia. (Click here to learn more about LiJia.)


Vice News: Betsy DeVos Is Cancelling 15,000 Students’ Debt After Trying To Avoid It For A Year
Despite Betsy DeVos’ best efforts, the U.S. Department of Education will cancel the nearly $150 million in student loan debt for 15,000 people whose schools shut down in the middle of their education or defrauded them.

Office of Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura Healey: AG Healey Demands Civil Rights Protections For Transgender People
Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 20 state attorneys general urging the Trump Administration to abandon efforts to adopt a definition of “sex” that would exclude transgender and gender nonconforming individuals from the protections of federal civil rights laws.

Office of Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker: Oakland City Attorney and Centro Legal de la Raza secure settlement with hotel owners who violated workers’ rights
City Attorney Barbara J. Parker and Centro Legal de la Raza have secured a settlement with the owners of an East Oakland hotel that systematically violated state and local labor laws, including Oakland’s Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Ordinance.