Oakland City Attorney and Public Rights Project Launch Partnership

OAKLAND, Calif. – City Attorney Barbara J. Parker has partnered with the Oakland-based, national nonprofit Public Rights Project to increase City legal resources for civil rights, economic justice and environmental litigation to protect the rights of all Oaklanders.

Today, the nonpartisan Public Rights Project announced that it is launching its fellowship program in Oakland. The program will place a full-time legal fellow in the City Attorney’s Office to help with lawsuits to safeguard the rights of Oakland’s diverse communities, including communities of color, women, immigrants and low-income residents. 

The legal fellow will support the work of the City Attorney’s Affirmative Litigation, Innovation & Enforcement Division, which handles actions such as  Oakland’s recent lawsuits against the world’s five largest publicly traded oil companies for deceiving the public about the catastrophic danger of fossil fuel-driven climate change, and against Wells Fargo for predatory and racially discriminatory mortgage lending practices.

“I am honored and excited that the Public Rights Project is launching its fellowship program in the Oakland City Attorney’s Office. The fellows will help us file cutting-edge cases to protect Oakland residents from discrimination, predatory corporate practices, abusive landlords, wage theft and fraud,” City Attorney Parker said. “Tragically, the federal government has become an adversary rather than a champion of justice, due process and equal protection. This fellowship will provide invaluable resources to help Oakland ensure justice and equal protection under the law in one of the most powerful and effective ways we can: through the courts.”

Public Rights Project was launched by Founder and President Jill Habig after she experienced firsthand the lasting national impact that individual civil rights attorneys can make in state and local government. Habig has worked on groundbreaking impact litigation and policy advocacy teams from inside government, first at the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, where she worked on the landmark marriage equality trial challenging Proposition 8, and later at the California Department of Justice, where she served as Special Counsel to Attorney General Kamala Harris and launched a new litigation unit that focused on children's rights.

“In 2018, as our federal government retreats from its historic role in ensuring equal protection under the law, it’s clear that states and cities are the best line of defense for protecting our rights,” said Ms. Habig. “We are proud to launch this fellowship in Oakland, a city with a proud civil rights history and commitment to continuing a leadership role in this critical work.”

Public Rights Project also will place a legal fellow in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office as part of its inaugural cohort.

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Originally published via oaklandcityattorney.org on March 15, 2018.