Sara Stephens

Housing and Cooperatives Attorney


[email protected]


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As the Housing Program Director, Sara coordinates the Law Center's policy advocacy, education, and client support for more just and affordable housing. She also provides legal support to the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative. In the Cooperatives Program, Sara coordinates, a legal resource library for cooperatives, as well as the development of a legal practice guide for cooperative attorneys. Sara authored the model city ordinance that the Law Center has been working with local cities to adopt in order to incentivize worker cooperatives as an economic development strategy. Sara also offers legal advice to cooperatives, focusing on immigrant-owned businesses and conventional businesses converting to worker ownership. Outside of the Law Center, Sara takes on worker cooperative and housing clients through her private practice, conducts legal research for the ICA Group, and serves on the Board of Directors of Pangea Legal Services.

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 the Law Center 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
  • Advising California Cooperatives legal practice guide lead
  • Client Legal Support

Operations Areas

  • Financial Accountability
  • Grants
  • HR Support
  • Admin Support


Other Projects


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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