Welcome Ugochi Anaebere-Nicholson!

Charles Garzón : August 30, 2022 12:17 am : Staff Announcements

The Public Interest Law Project is thrilled to announce that Ugochi Anaebere-Nicholson has joined our team as a Staff Attorney and will be contributing to PILP’s work with local legal services programs to prevent homelessness and protect the rights of unhoused people!

Prior to joining PILP, Ugochi served as Directing Attorney for the Housing and Homelessness Prevention Unit of the Public Law Center. She brings over 17 years’ experience practicing public interest law, including protecting the rights of tenants and those in need of affordable housing using litigation, administrative and policy advocacy, and coalition building strategies.

Ugochi brings expertise in several substantive practice areas, including housing and consumer rights, housing rights for veterans, immigration rights, and landlord/tenant law. She has served as a staff attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, as acting director of Disability Rights Legal Center’s Options Counseling and Lawyer Referral Service, as director of pro bono legal services in the Central Valley at Central California Legal Services, and as a managing attorney with Inland Counties Legal Services. Ugochi earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from UCLA, and her Juris Doctor Degree from Southwestern Law School. She currently serves as a member of the California State Bar’s Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) Commission, and of the Rural Task Force Committee of the Access to Justice Commission.

Please welcome Ugochi to our team!

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PILP In Transition

Charles Garzón : March 24, 2022 2:22 pm : Staff Announcements

Hi Friends, Colleagues and Partners of the Public Interest Law Project. We have an auspicious and exciting announcement:

Director Michael Rawson will transition to Director of Litigation and Advocacy after 26 years of leadership, vision and unrelenting commitment to economic and racial justice. Mike, a founding co-director of PILP, will continue full time focusing on impact litigation and other advocacy for systemic change with local legal services programs. On May 16, 2022, after a nationwide search, Shashi Hanuman, currently the Directing Attorney of Public Counsel’s Community Development Project, will become PILP’s Executive Director. Please join us in welcoming both to their new positions.

Mike founded and led PILP with the paramount purpose of providing California legal services attorneys with the expertise and guidance to engage in legal advocacy for societal change on behalf of lower income people and communities victimized by catastrophic discrimination, segregation, disenfranchisement, forced displacement, and denial of basic necessities, sometimes for centuries. His commitment to this vision and values remained steadfast and resulted in indelible impact and change. He has and continues to play a central role in vastly improving and ensuring tenacious enforcement of California’s Housing Element Law and several other critical laws affecting the production affordable housing outside of the market and fighting for the preservation and protection of communities in the crosshairs of displacement and gentrification. “With PILP in the trusted hands of our incomparable staff, board, and new Executive Director, I look forward to this next chapter where I can spend more of my time assisting legal aid attorneys, shaping legislation, and supporting impact litigation and advocacy across the state.”

Shashi has dedicated her career to advancing economic and racial justice using community development, advocacy, and litigation strategies. Over the course of her 21 years at Public Counsel, she supported neighborhood-based organizations engaged in building and preserving affordable housing, providing health care, and advancing economic development in some of Los Angeles’s most disinvested geographic areas. She also led the effort to build a new unit at Public Counsel focusing on breaking down barriers to affordable and supportive housing, protecting tenants, and preserving community assets. Shashi has also supported a growing community lawyering team, helped expand Public Counsel’s services to small and micro-businesses across Los Angeles County, and brings significant expertise in nonprofit management, fundraising, leadership development, and advancing affirmative housing litigation and advocacy strategies. “I’m incredibly honored that the staff and board have entrusted me with this position of service to lower income communities of color, and I am confident that the core values of stewardship, humility, and compassion that I have so admired in Mike over the years will guide me as they guided Mike.


I ask that you join me in celebrating Mike, and in welcoming Shashi. The board of directors, staff, and I are confident and excited about the changes to come, and invite you to join us on this exciting journey.

William Hebert
President of the Board of Directors

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Thank you to Our Donors, Grantors, and Foundation Sponsors

PILP : July 22, 2019 2:57 pm : News and Updates, Staff Announcements

Public and private grantors are an invaluable source of support for the Public Interest Law Project.

With the generous donations and grants we receive, PILP is able to ‘Advance justice for low-income people and communities.’

We would like to recognize and thank the following organizations and partners for their continued support:

Please consider donating to the Public Interest Law Project today. 


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Happy Retirement, Deb!

PILP : May 4, 2017 3:35 pm : Staff Announcements


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PILP and co-counsel honored with 2017 CLAY Award

PILP : April 5, 2017 3:17 pm : News and Updates, Staff Announcements

PILP attorneys Craig Castellanet and Michael Rawson and their co-counsel at Public Law Center and Jones Day received 2017 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year awards for their work in The Kennedy Commission v. City of Huntington Beach.

The City had adopted a downtown specific plan providing high density to multifamily sites to meet the City’s lower income housing needs identified in its housing element.  But, when a new city council took over, the City illegally amended the specific plan to eliminate the zoning.  Representing the Kennedy Commission and low income Veterans, the litigation won a ruling declaring the specific plan amendments void when adopted.

The City is appealing the Court’s decision and has reportedly refused to comply with the orders.

Read more about the case and the other 2017 CLAY award honorees here.

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A Great Lawyer for the People Passes On.

PILP : February 19, 2016 1:36 pm : News and Updates, Staff Announcements

Remembering Judy Gold (1952 – 2016)
We sadly lost our amazing and compassionate colleague Judy Gold this week.

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Congrats Deb!

PILP : August 4, 2014 2:16 pm : Staff Announcements

Deb Collins

August 4, 2014–We are proud to announce that PILP’s Managing Attorney Deborah Collins will receive the prestigious Advocates’ Award given annually by the Western Center on Law & Poverty at the Center’s Garden Party event on October 8 in Los Angeles. The WCLP Advocates’ Award is given to honor and celebrate career long commitment and success in the provision of legal services to lower income persons and disadvantaged communities.

Deb’s career spans work with California Rural Legal Assistance, Legal Services of Northern California and for the last 13 years, PILP. She is a renowned expert on affordable housing law, including community redevelopment, anti-displacement, relocation assistance and housing elements, and she works tirelessly with local legal services programs as they strive to win decent and affordable housing in the courts and before local, state and federal administrative and legislative bodies.

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Project P100

PILP : August 4, 2014 1:50 pm : Staff Announcements


Good Luck, Hilda!

April 11, 2014–Hilda Chan is Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow and was at PILP from September 2013 to April 2014.  We were tremendously honored to have her as a part of our organization. We wish her luck in continuing the fight to end Project 100% and protecting the rights of families in San Diego.

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Stephen Ronfeldt steps down as PILP’s Co-Director

gaceves : October 22, 2012 12:59 pm : Staff Announcements

Stephen Ronfeldt steps down as PILP’s Co-Director, while continuing as its Senior Ligitator.

After 16 years as Co-Director, Steve Ronfeldt hands the PILP Director reins to Co-Director Michael Rawson, but fortunately will remain as a part time senior attorney.

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Mona Tawatao

gaceves : May 17, 2012 1:26 pm : Staff Announcements

Mona Tawatao, Vice-Chair of PILP’s board has had two important articles published recently in the Clearinghouse Review:  Journal of Poverty Law and Policy of the Sargent Shrive Center National Center on Poverty Law.

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