Sara Stephens

Housing and Cooperatives Attorney


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As the Housing Program Director, Sara coordinates SELC’s policy advocacy, education, and client support for more just and affordable housing. In the Cooperatives and City Policies Programs, she leads SELC’s effort to create and implement a model city ordinance to incentivize worker cooperatives as an economic development strategy. She also coordinates, a legal resource library for cooperatives, as well as Think Outside the Boss, a legal workshop for cooperative start-ups.

Sara has been involved in economic and housing justice work for several years. Her initial interest in these issues took root during her five years in Bangkok, Thailand prior to law school, where she worked with squatter communities struggling with poverty, pollution, and displacement. After returning to the States, Sara volunteered in a community organizing effort to oppose the unjust siting of a waste transfer station in Pomona, California. During law school, Sara led a student workshop that supported Brazilian communities threatened with displacement due to a destructive development project, and completed two externships focused on Housing Element and land use law. She volunteered with SELC for most of her time in law school, working with low-income entrepreneurs through the Legal Eats workshops and the Refugee Farmer Project.


Roles at SELC

Program Areas

Lead: Housing Program

Support: Cooperatives Program

  • Worker Cooperative Ordinance Lead
  • Lead
  • Client Legal Support

Support: City Policies Program

Operations Areas

  • Financial Accountability
  • Grants
  • HR Support
  • Admin Support


Other Projects

  • Law Office of Sara Stephens

    • Legal services for tenants, cohousing clients, community organizations, entrepreneurs

  • Pro bono representation to unlawful detainer clients at the East Bay Community Law Center


Personal Interests

  • Gluten-free baking

  • Long runs, bike rides, hikes, and road trips

  • Indie films


Education and Training

  • Bar Admissions: California

  • JD, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley

    • Coordinator, Students for Economic and Environmental Justice

    • Notes and Comments Editor, California Law Review

    • Participatory Action Research in the Central Valley

    • Internships:

      • Public Advocates– affordable housing, land use

      • East Bay Community Law Center– immigration

      • Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger– environmental, CEQA, local government law, affordable housing

      • Accountability Counsel– environmental, human rights

  • BA, Sociology and Journalism, University of Washington



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