Genevieve L. Richardson
Genevieve Richardson is a social justice attorney who has been committed to advancing the civil legal rights of low-income families throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Genevieve served as Managing Attorney of BayLegal’s regional offices in Contra Costa, Marin, and Napa Counties. As Managing Attorney, she supervised a team of 20 staff attorneys, legal advocates, and volunteers who represent clients in matters involving housing, social safety-net benefits, healthcare access, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, and consumer protection, as well as wrap-around legal help to low-income immigrants, veterans, seniors, formerly incarcerated individuals, and youth in foster care.
Genevieve joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2001 as a staff attorney in Contra Costa County representing survivors of interpersonal violence. In 2005, she became BayLegal’s first Director of Pro Bono Activities establishing and overseeing the firm’s regional pro bono program. As Director of Pro Bono Activities, Genevieve coordinated pro bono activities across seven counties by recruiting and training private attorneys and volunteers to provide much-needed pro bono assistance to expand access to the civil justice system for low-income families. Richardson also works on a regional and statewide basis to address systemic poverty and inequality issues, and is a former Board member of the Legal Aid Association of California. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2000 after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Education: University of Colorado School of Law, 2000; University of Colorado, B.A., Philosophy: Law and Society
Practice Area: Family Law and Immigration
Bar Admission: California, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Publications: Divided Societies: Northern Ireland’s religious struggles and the racial struggles in the United States. International Journal of Education Policy, Research and Practice. Vol. 1 No. 4, 2000
Haydée I. Alfonso
As General Counsel and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Haydée Alfonso, is responsible for stewarding BayLegal’s strategic planning and implementation. Ms. Alfonso’s primary areas of focus are:
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Ensuring that our shared values of social equity and racial justice are implemented at all levels of the firm and in our work
- Compliance – Ensuring firm-wide understanding and compliance with federal and state rules and regulations, ethical rules, and HIPAA
- Developing and Overseeing Firm-Wide Business Coordination – including Disaster Preparedness and Response
Ms. Alfonso joined Bay Area Legal Aid in early 2008 as the Managing Attorney for our Legal Advice Line. In this role, she managed Northern California’s only civil legal advice hotline – an advanced telephony system serving seven counties and over 24,000 callers annually in over 40 languages. In 2013, she created BayLegal’s Health Consumer Center which serves all consumers facing barriers to health care.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Ms. Alfonso had a successful career as an attorney at Gordon & Rees as a member of the Business Transactions team. She was recruited by the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) to develop what was to become a national model for pro bono business law projects. At VLSP she designed, implemented, and managed one of the nation’s first business law projects to address the ever-increasing complex legal needs of nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Alfonso earned a joint JD/MBA from Santa Clara University’s School of Law and School of Business in 1993. Ms. Alfonso is a graduate of OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship Program for Nonprofit Management, has served on the faculty of the Shriver Center – presenting a course on Essential Skills for Hotline Supervisors, and has served on the California State Bar’s Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. In April 2013, Ms. Alfonso was one of six experts invited to speak on technology’s role in expanding access to civil legal aid at President Obama’s White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice.
She has been dedicated to serving the low income and disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area for over 20 years.
Education: Santa Clara University School of Law, JD/MBA 1992; University of California, Berkeley, B.A. Social Science
Bar Admissions: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Publications: “Mortgage Fraud Prevention Program,” VLSP; Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 2000; “Building a Future”, Business Law Today, 2003
Director of Development & Communications
As Director of Development and Communications, Taylor oversees Annual Campaign giving and cultivation for individuals, corporate contributors, our Board of Directors, and the private bar. The campaign is a primary source of unrestricted funding support for our work, providing flexibility and stability and allowing us to respond quickly to emergent client, community, and organizational needs. Taylor also manages our firm-wide communications, providing strategic direction, content development, and editorial oversight for our website, email newsletters, client and community outreach materials and social media accounts. He serves as BayLegal’s media point of contact and strategist, working with advocates to bring regional and national media focus to bear on our work as a tool for case advocacy and increasingly as a means to build public recognition for the history and current practice of civil legal aid as a key component of long-term struggles against economic inequality, displacement, racial injustice, and oppressions linked to gender and sexuality. Supervising a Communications and Development Assistant, and serving on the management team, Taylor’s role links operational leadership of the Communications and Development department to firm-wide strategic planning.
Taylor joined BayLegal in 2018, bringing 20 years of nonprofit fundraising and communications experience. Prior to joining BayLegal, he worked in senior development positions at organizations working to build social justice through mental health access, family support, community organizing, educational equity, and youth leadership. Responsibilities included grants cultivation and management, donor fundraising, management of external communications assets and strategies, and coordination with finance and program leadership. Organizations in which he has held Director of Development roles include Partnership for Children and Youth, South Bay Center for Counseling, and the California School-Age Consortium.
Education: New College of Florida, BA
Regional Counsel of Housing Litigation
As Regional Counsel of Housing Litigation, Hilda Chan supervises and supports the attorneys and advocates in the housing unit across five counties, providing day-to-day support, mentorship and guidance to help them excel in providing high quality impactful client services, especially at the trial stage of eviction cases.
Hilda joined BayLegal in 2018 as a staff attorney with the Alameda County housing unit. Prior to BayLegal, she practiced domestic violence and family law at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, housing law at Eviction Defense Collaborative, and was a Soros Justice Fellow with Public Interest Law Project and Supportive Parents Information Network working to end warrantless, suspicionless D.A. home searches of applicants of public assistance in San Diego.
Education: Berkeley Law, JD 2012
Practice Areas: Housing, Domestic Violence/Family Law
Director of Litigation
As Director of Litigation, Novella Coleman works with teams of staff attorneys to bring high-impact cases to address the systemic breakdowns identified through direct client representation in BayLegal’s multiple practice areas.
Ms. Coleman has developed and litigated impact cases in a wide array of issue areas and while serving persons from diverse economic, racial and ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
Ms. Coleman joined BayLegal in January 2020 as senior litigation counsel. In this role, she supervised and trained staff attorneys in developing and litigating impact cases and oversaw BayLegal’s attorneys’ fees practice. From May to September 2020, Ms. Coleman served as BayLegal’s Acting Director of Litigation.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Ms. Coleman was a staff attorney at PolicyLink, where she where she litigated in the criminal justice space. Before that, Ms. Coleman was a staff attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California for approximately seven years, where she engaged in legal and policy advocacy advancing civil rights and civil liberties. Her cases included Phillips v. State of California, Fresno Superior Court case no. 15CECG02201, which challenged the State of California and Fresno County’s systemic failure to provide Fresno County indigent criminal defendants with representation that meets minimum constitutional and statutory standards; Cross v. City and County of San Francisco, Northern District of California case no. 3:18-cv-06097-EMC, a federal damages lawsuit challenging the San Francisco Police Department’s targeting of 37 Black persons for low-level drug offenses under the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; and a civil administrative complaint challenging the federal Transportation Security Administration’s unnecessary, unreasonable and racially discriminatory hair searches that single out Black women at airports.
Education: Harvard Law School, JD; Stanford University School of Education, MA; Stanford University, BAS in Mathematics and Philosophy
Bar Admissions: California State Bar, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, United States District Court for the Central District of California
Practice Areas: criminal justice, police practices, free speech, religious freedom and neutrality, racial justice, open government, voting rights, and reproductive justice
Awards: Harvard Law School 2010 Dean’s Scholar in Child Advocacy Clinic, Harvard Law School 2011 Irving R. Kaufman Fellow (awarded for demonstrated potential for outstanding career in public service)
- Reducing Officer-Involved Shootings in Fresno, CA, ACLU of California, Nov. 2017, http://www.aclunc.org/docs/ReducingOISFresno2017.11.29.pdf
- Affordable Housing is a Civil Right, ACLU of Northern California, Dec. 8, 2016, https://www.aclunc.org/blog/affordable-housing-civil-right
- Two Lawyers Walk into a Bar And Get Kicked Out for Being Black, Medium, Mar. 24, 2016, https://medium.com/@ACLU_NorCal/two-lawyers-walk-into-a-bar-and-get-kicked-out-for-being-black-7abed249df5f
Pro Bono Director
Regional Counsel, Housing Law
Supervising Attorney, Social Security Disability/SSI, Alameda County
Managing Attorney, Alameda County
Linnea Forsythe is the Managing Attorney of Bay Area Legal Aid’s Alameda County Regional Office. She has devoted her career to serving survivors of trauma and violence, individuals with disabilities, and youth and adults who are unhoused. Linnea has a background in law and social work. She founded and directed the social work practice at BayLegal. Integrating social workers at BayLegal introduced an interdisciplinary team service model to address the trauma and non-legal issues that present barriers to people finding safety and stability. Before starting the social work practice at BayLegal, Linnea represented hundreds of clients as an attorney in many areas of law including family law, restraining orders, immigration, SSI/SSDI, local and state public benefits, and youth law. Before taking the Managing Attorney position, Linnea was in New Mexico where she served as Acting Executive Director of the New Mexico Governor’s Commission on Disability and Director of the New Mexico State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Regardless of the capacity she serves in, Linnea brings to her work the foundational belief that the people we serve are strong, independent, capable, and deserving of respect and love.Education: Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D. 2008; Graduate School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley, MSW 2005
Bar Admissions: California, Hawaii
Practice Areas: Domestic Violence Prevention, SSI/SSDI, Youth Law
Supervising Attorney, Housing, Alameda County
Lisa joined BayLegal in 2002 as a staff attorney in the Contra Costa County Office. She has over 15 years of experience in affordable housing preservation and has represented hundreds of individual clients. Lisa’s litigation experience has focused on eviction defense for tenants in public, subsidized and private housing, Section 8 termination hearings, fair housing enforcement and housing authority policy advocacy. She has litigated several affirmative impact cases including enforcement of low-income senior tenants’ rights to remain with enhanced vouchers and a successful challenge to a housing authority’s improper use of criminal records in the admission process. She has also coordinated the review and submission of public comments to housing authorities’ administrative plans, annual plans, disposition and displacement plans, relocation assistance and replacement housing plans. Lisa has been a panelist in landlord/tenant, fair housing and eviction defense law at NLADA, PLI, Pathways to Justice, and Housing Justice Network conferences and trained hundreds of community members, attorneys, advocates and service providers. Since 2018, Lisa has been a Supervising Attorney providing day-to-day support, mentorship and guidance to help the Alameda County Housing Unit attorneys excel in providing high quality impactful client service.
Education: Suffolk University Law School, JD (1998), Columbia University, MPA (1995), Occidental College, BA (1988)
Bar Admissions California, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, U.S. District Court, Northern District, and Massachusetts
Practice Areas: Housing
Publications: Claire Johnson and Lisa Greif, Criminal Records and Denial of Access to Subsidized Housing – A Two-Pronged Approach to Litigation, Housing Law Bulletin, Vol. 43, at 84.
Director of Program and Advocacy
As Director of Program and Advocacy, Ariella coordinates and strategizes with our Managing Attorneys, Regional Counsel and Director of Litigation to enhance our impact and leverage our unique expertise in serving low-income and vulnerable communities. In this capacity, Ariella is responsible for integrating BayLegal’s programs – across our seven-county firm, our multiple practice areas, and our multifaceted approaches (direct legal services, impact advocacy, and community work).
For 16 years, Ariella served as Managing Attorney of BayLegal’s largest office (Alameda County), leading a team of 45 attorneys, support staff, and social workers in providing high quality legal services to low-income county residents in domestic violence, family law, housing, economic justice, health access, youth justice, disability rights, immigration, and reentry legal services.
Prior to this, as a Domestic Violence Staff Attorney in BayLegal’s San Francisco office (formerly San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation), Ariella represented domestic violence survivors across multiple practice areas, engaged in extensive and impactful policy advocacy on local, state and national levels, trained professionals across multiple disciplines, and published various articles on interpersonal violence and its intersections with welfare, healthcare, and family law.
Ariella also serves as a Lecturer at The University of California Berkeley Law School, where she teaches the Field Placement Workshop, exploring lawyering topics with students engaged in internships in government agencies and public interest nonprofits.
Education: Harvard Law School, 1991; Brown University, B.A.
Practice Areas: Domestic Violence (including intersections with family law, public benefits, housing and healthcare)
Bar Admissions: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Awards: Named in “Top 20 lawyers under 40″ in California by Daily Journal, 2002.
Publications: Ariella’s articles have been published in Clearinghouse Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, Western Journal of Medicine, Fordham Urban Law Journal, and the Western Center of Law & Poverty’s CalWORKs Manual, among others.
Managing Attorney, Youth Justice
As Regional Managing Attorney of BayLegal’s Youth Justice Team, Maighna manages a team of advocates, lawyers, volunteers, and our team social worker.
Prior to law school, she worked as a case manager for juvenile justice-involved youth in San Francisco. After graduation from law school, she represented domestic violence and trafficking survivors in DV/family law and housing matters and has spent most of her career representing youth in education, dependency, dual status, guardianship, family law, immigration, and domestic violence matters. She previously worked at the Family Law Facilitator’s Office, and as a certified mediator for Consortium for Children and the Bar Association of San Francisco, mediating adoption, guardianship, education, and housing cases.
She is an active member of the Alameda County Bar Association, where she serves as the chair of the Wellness Executive Committee and as secretary for the Immigration Executive Committee. In her spare time (and prior to the pandemic), Maighna enjoyed teaching yoga and meditation to youth in juvenile hall and in schools. In addition, she continues to advocate for the use of restorative justice and alternative dispute practices for youth in school discipline and juvenile justice systems.
Managing Attorney, San Francisco County
As Managing Attorney of BayLegal’s San Francisco County Regional Office, Raegan supervises and supports a team of attorneys, advocates and social workers, providing day-to-day support, mentorship and guidance to help them excel in providing high quality impactful client services.
Raegan joined BayLegal’s Alameda County office in 2016, where she coordinated our Social Security advocacy in-reach at Santa Rita Jail and represented clients pre and post-release from Santa Rita Jail. In 2018, Raegan transferred to BayLegal’s San Francisco office, where she has represented clients with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness in claims for SSDI/SSI, and served as a Supervising Attorney in our SSDI/SSI practice. Prior to BayLegal, Raegan worked at Rubicon Programs, where she founded two medical-legal partnerships as an Equal Justice Fellow, and practiced re-entry legal services. Before practicing law, Raegan worked as a case manager in San Francisco supportive housing programs for formerly homeless adults and people with disabilities.
Education: University of California, Hasting College of Law
Bar Admissions: California State Bar, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Practice Areas: SSI/SSDI, Public Benefits
Supervising Attorney, Housing, San Francisco County
Supervising Attorney, Legal Advice Line & Health Consumer Center
Director of Grants & Contracts
As Director of Grants and Contracts Christina oversees BayLegal’s vast portfolio of federal, state and local government contracts and private grants to ensure the firm has continued stable funding to provide impactful legal services to low-income communities throughout the Bay Area. Christina leads a dynamic team of three dedicated Grants and Contracts Officers who together cultivate and maintain relationships with funders, ensure contractual compliance and high quality reporting, and tell the story of civil legal services. As a member of senior management team Christina participates in firm-wide strategic planning.
Christina joined BayLegal in 2018 bringing nearly 20 years of experience in public service with local government and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining BayLegal, Christina served for eight years with the City and County of San Francisco, holding the positions of Finance and Policy Analysis Manager with the Office of the Assessor-Recorder and Senior Performance Analyst with the Office of the Controller. While working with San Francisco, Christina evaluated and developed city policies and managed budgets, contracts, payroll and accounting issues at the department and program level. Christina also has extensive nonprofit experience, serving as a Program Manager for Catholic Relief Services, and Program Director with Bay Area Community Resources, directing program development and implementation of multi-lateral and U.S. government contracts and private grants.
Education: Princeton University, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, MPA; University of California, Berkeley, BA
Supervising Attorney, Economic Justice
As Regional Economic Justice Supervising Attorney, Jessica supervises and supports the attorneys and advocates across the organization with their Economic Justice cases, providing day-to-day support, mentorship and guidance to help them excel in providing high quality impactful client services.
Jessica joined BayLegal in 2020 as a senior staff attorney. Prior to BayLegal, she worked as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles in the Economic Stability Work Group,
Education: BA from California State University, Long Beach, JD from Loyola Law School
Focus of practice (expertise): Economic Justice
Bar Admissions: California
Practice Areas: Public Benefits
Supervising Attorney, Domestic Violence/Family Law, Santa Clara County
As Supervising Attorney in BayLegal’s Family Law Practice, Santa Clara Regional Office, Kemi supervises and supports the attorneys and advocates in the family law unit, providing day-to-day support, mentorship and guidance to help them excel in providing high quality impactful client services.
Kemi joined BayLegal in 2012 as an Equal Justice Works fellow dedicated to expanding and improving the delivery of family law services to Black domestic violence survivors. She spent several years working in BayLegal’s Alameda County Regional Office before transferring to the Santa Clara County Regional Office in November 2017.
Education: Washington University in St. Louis, J.D. (2010); The University of Chicago, B.A. with honors (2006)
Bar Admissions: California
Practice Areas: Family Law/Domestic Violence
Lisa M. Newstrom
Managing Attorney, Santa Clara County
Lisa Newstrom joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2009 as a Public Benefits Attorney in the Santa Clara County office and accepted the position of Managing Attorney for that office in 2013. Lisa began her legal career at BayLegal as a volunteer Public Benefits advocate while she was awaiting her California bar results. Her practice focuses on safety-net programs such as SSI, CalWORKS, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal and General Assistance.
Lisa serves on several regional task forces including the Court for the Individual Treatment of Adolescents; South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking and the Santa Clara County Public Benefits Task Force. She has trained hundreds of attorneys, advocates, and social services workers on legal issues in public benefits, particularly for noncitizens and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Lisa was a Teach for America corps member and taught in low-income schools in Texas for several years, specializing in Bilingual/ESL and Special Education.
Education: Cornell Law School, 2008; Northwestern University, B.A. Writing
Practice Area: Public Benefits, Health Access
Bar Admission: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Awards: Sarah Betsy Fuller Social Justice Award, 2010 and 2013
Publications: The Horizon of Rights: Lessons from South Africa for the Post-Goodridge Analysis of Same-Sex Marriage, 41 Cornell Int. L. J. 2007
Managing Attorney, San Mateo County and Regional Counsel for Family Law
Supervising Attorney, Social Security Disability/SSI, Alameda County
As Supervising Attorney in BayLegal’s Social Security Disability/SSI Practice, Alameda County, Joanna supervises and supports the attorneys and advocates in the Alameda County SSI Unit providing day-to-day support, mentorship and guidance to help them excel in providing high quality impactful client services. Joanna has expertise in county, state, and federal public benefit programs.
Joanna joined BayLegal as a staff attorney in December 2011, providing direct legal services to low-income adults and children with mental and physical health disabilities. She began providing mentorship and support to the growing SSI team as a Project Coordinator in 2016 and has been a supervising attorney since 2018. Joanna has represented numerous clients in their SSI/SSDI cases, from initial applications through federal district court appeals, and regularly trains advocates across California on Social Security law and advocacy.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Joanna worked at the East Bay Community Law Center, where she assisted low-income clients with state and county benefits. Before law school, she worked as a researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, evaluating programs and policies that impact poor families.
Education: University of California, Berkeley School of Law; University of Michigan, BA, Women’s Studies and Organizational Studies
Bar Admissions: California; U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Practice Areas: County, state, and federal public benefits
Managing Attorney, Contra Costa & Marin Counties
Adam joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2008 as a housing attorney in the Contra Costa Office and has been managing attorney in that office since May 2018. Adam became the first dedicated reentry attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid in 2012 and took on the role of regional project coordinator for the growing reentry unit shortly thereafter.
In his housing practice Adam has represented hundreds of low-income and disabled clients in Unlawful Detainers and administrative hearings in Contra Costa. He maintains a case load of housing and reentry cases and is involved in efforts to support individuals with criminal records achieve stability through housing and employment advocacy.
Adam serves on several regional task forces and steering committees, including the Reentry Community Advisory Board (CAB), the Reentry Success Center, the Youth Justice Initiative and the Alliance to End Abuse. He has trained hundreds of attorneys, advocates and service providers on Fair Housing issues and the housing rights of individuals with criminal records.
Education: DePaul College of Law (2006); Michigan State University, B.S. Pol. Sci (1999)
Practice Area: Housing, Reentry
Bar Admission: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Managing Attorney, Immigration Law Practice
Emilio Seijo Rivera
Supervising Attorney, Legal Advice Line & Health Consumer Center
Emilio G. Seijo Rivera is an accomplished and talented attorney with a diversified legal background spanning non-profit, corporate, and government positions. As a Supervising Attorney for the Health Consumer Center (HCC) and the Legal Advice (LAL), Mr. Seijo Rivera leads a team of attorneys who empower individuals to achieve greater access to healthcare and economic and housing stability. His diverse areas of substantive knowledge include client counseling, litigation management, legal research and writing, training, government affairs, public policy, legislative analysis, administrative law, health care law, family law, immigration, and employment law.Emilio joined BayLegal in 2017 to offer advice and representation to clients on health care access or coverage issues. Also, he provided support with calls on the Domestic Violence Line and the Referral Line.
Before joining BayLegal, Emilio worked for G.E. Healthcare Ltd. in the United Kingdom. He researched, reviewed, and analyzed public policies related to health care and life sciences and advised legislative changes. While in his native Puerto Rico, Emilio worked for the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico as the Chief Counsel and Policy Director. Also, he worked for the Department of Agriculture of Puerto Rico as Director of Legal Affairs, and for the Court of Appeals of Puerto Rico, as Law Clerk.
Emilio performed various legal services in his prior positions, including developing public policy, drafting and amending legislation, counseling government officials, conducting legal research, and drafting judicial opinions. Also, he had driven litigation strategy, managing outside counsel, and has represented agencies in many hearings and settlement negotiations.
He is bilingual in English and Spanish, strengthening his strong communication and interpersonal skills. Moreover, allowing him to serve as an interpreter and translating documents for other attorneys firm-wide.
Education: Loyola University Chicago School of Law, LL.M. in Health Law | Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Law, J.D. | Inter American University of Puerto Rico, B.S. in Biology
Bar Admissions: States & Territories – California | Minnesota | Puerto Rico | District of Columbia. Federal – US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit | US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit | US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico | US District Court for the Northern District of California
Practice Areas: Administrative Law, Health Care Law, Family Law, Immigration Law (U Visa and VAWA), and Public Benefits (Medi-Cal, IHSS, CCS, etc.)
Managing Attorney, Health Consumer Center & Legal Advice Line
Barbara Texidor joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2008. She became managing attorney for 16 attorneys in the Health Consumer Center and Legal Advice line in May, 2018.
Barbara’s career has been dedicated to public interest law and social justice. Prior to joining Bay Area Legal Aid, she assisted immigrant families gain legal status and defend against deportation. At Bay Area Legal Aid she first served as a Legal Advice Line Attorney, providing advice and counsel in all practice areas, which included family law for survivors of interpersonal violence, social safety-net benefits, consumer law, and housing law. As a Legal Advice Line Attorney she also led a brief service clinic at the Homeless Prenatal Project.
In 2012, she began representing low-income disabled individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities in their applications and appeals for Veteran’s benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits (SSI & SSDI). In 2013, she became a founding partner in developing and building the Health Consumer Center at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she represented consumers with health service and coverage denials in hearings before Administrative Law Judges, filed grievances and appeals with health plans and the Department of Managed Health Care, and negotiated with providers and county representatives. In 2014, she became a Project Coordinator for the Health Consumer Center, tasked with elevating systemic issues to county and state partners, overseeing health policy advocacy for the firm, supervising 7 staff attorneys, grant reporting, and providing training and educational outreach to attorneys at Bay Area Legal Aid and the community regarding healthcare access issues. She also served as the union Executive Chair of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers (UAW/NOLSW) for staff from December 2015 to March 2017.
Education: University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2007; University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., with honors, American Studies; B.A. Legal Studies, 2004
Practice Area: Health Access, Public Benefits
Bar Admission: California
Director of Finance & Administration, Chief Financial Officer
As Director of Finance & Administration, Burt Thompson oversees the directs all of BayLegal’s fiscal activities including accounting practices, budgeting, financial analysis, grants and contracts fiscal management and compliance, and monitoring of financial performance. Burt leads an expert finance team of five.
Burt brings over 20 years of experience as CFO and Controller, both in the private and non-profit sectors, including working for a large public accounting firm as an auditor and for an international NGO supporting communities in multiple countries. He has vast expertise in leading financial functions in achieving exceptional results with a focused commitment to nonprofits.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Burt held positions as Chief Financial Officer for Thrive Networks, who performs international development work for underserved communities in southeast Asia, and as the Corporate Controller for United Commercial Bank, who serves Chinese communities.
Burt has expressed that through his varied career experiences, he has found that his heart is drawn to using his skills and experience to support non-profits who are directly benefiting individuals and communities and creating positive change.
Education: University of Southern California, M.S. Taxation, California State University, Northridge, M.S Accountancy, University of California at Los Angeles, B.A. Economics; Licensed as a Certified Public Accountant, active, in California.
Managing Attorney, Social Security Disability/SSI, Alameda County
Steve Weiss is a Regional Managing Attorney of our Social Security practice at Bay Area Legal Aid, supervising over 20 attorneys who provide representation in cases from initial application through federal court.
Steve joined Bay Legal as a staff attorney in 2005, and provided direct representation to hundreds of clients in various public benefits matters before becoming SSI Advocacy Regional Coordinator and Regional Counsel. Prior to working at Bay Area Legal Aid, Steve was a staff attorney at the Homeless Action Center in Berkeley from 1999 to 2005.
He is 1998 graduate of the Golden Gate University School of Law, and received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Urban Public Policy Administration.
Practice Area: Public Benefits, SSI
Bar Admission: 1998 California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Supervising Attorney, Social Security Disability/SSI, San Francisco County
Human Resources Manager
Managing Attorney, Consumer Law
As Regional Counsel of BayLegal’s Consumer Practice, Noah oversees the strategic vision and priorities of BayLegal’s regional consumer practice supporting attorneys and advocates in each of BayLegal’s regional county offices and leveraging the expertise and resources to support both local and systemic advocacy. Noah focuses on ensuring that BayLegal’s regional consumer advocacy goals and strategies align with emerging and urgent community needs, supports the professional development and expertise of BayLegal’s consumer attorneys and advocates by providing strategic support and mentorship to advocates in each of BayLegal’s regional offices, coordinating regional advocacy, implementing and developing trainings, and identifying opportunities for expanding leadership. As Regional Counsel, Noah monitors regional trends and issues facing our client communities and helps to identify, support and co-counsel on systemic impact policy and litigation advocacy to effectuate systemic change for our clients. As Regional Counsel, Noah works closely with regional, statewide and national advocacy partners and supporters on consumer matters to ensure BayLegal is implementing best practices and remains a leader in the consumer legal services for our clients.
Noah’s work during the Wall Street-driven mortgage collapse and recession included class and individual litigation against major financial institutions and debt collectors for a wide variety of abuses against homeowners, as well as successful policy efforts to establish state and federal protections. From 2012-2013, Noah was a Visiting Clinical Professor at the UC Irvine School of Law, where he also worked with the California Monitor for the National Mortgage Settlement. Noah returned to HERA in 2013, where his work focused on a wide range of consumer concerns, including predatory for-profit schools, student and medical debt, and abusive auto and small dollar loans. In 2016, Noah was selected as a negotiator on behalf of national legal services organizations representing students in the Department of Education’s federal rulemaking on student debt relief.
Noah rejoined BayLegal in 2019.
Education: University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Juris Doctor, 2006
Bar Admissions: California State Bar, Northern District of California, Central District of California, Eastern District of California
Practice Areas: Consumer Law
Awards: 2006 Equal Justice Works/Morgan Miller Blair Fellowship, 2015-2016 Super Lawyers Rising Stars Selection.
Publications: Bittersweet Relief: Strengthening California’s Tuition Recovery Fund to Better Support Students (2019), available at https://ticas.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/bittersweet-relief.pdf