We began in part as a reaction to the rigid restrictions on the scope of California Rural Legal Assistance representation and were initially funded with generous support from the Ford Foundation and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. California had a need for a broad-based public interest law firm to address civil rights issues affecting the daily lives of low-income communities and we have been working to fill that need since our first day on the job.
Our priorities and tactics are set to not only meet the challenges of the time, but also to have a broad and long-lasting impact.
Public Advocates has always had a strong personality. Over the years we have aimed to retain our independence, feistiness, cutting edge work and innovative legal approaches while building a reputation for genuine and effective collaboration with community partners.
We have also achieved a degree of financial stability, based on a combination of revenue from individual and law firm contributions, foundation grants, state legal services funding, litigation fees, and interest on reserves. We have even added a Sacramento office staffed with policy advocacy and community relations experts to deepen our influence on state policy and coalitions.
Working at the national, state and regional level, we were best known, initially, for our litigation expertise and success in pursuing innovative legal strategies to protect low-income communities and civil rights.
We recognized that we could be most effective when we created a long term strategy for engagement with a significant policy arena, and generated a legal strategy incorporating alliances, subject area expertise, and implementation and communication plans.
As part of our role in building capacity for communities to engage in public policy advocacy we have helped in creating some broad based coalitions, including:
Now in our fifth decade, we continue to challenge the status quo by seeking legal victories and strengthening the voices of low-income communities, pursuing the civil rights that lie at the heart of everyday life.