PolicyLink Legal

PolicyLink Legal uses legal strategies to accelerate equity campaigns, deepening and expanding the capacity and effectiveness of organizers and advocates. Established by Julian Gross, the inaugural PolicyLink James O. Gibson Innovation Fellow, PolicyLink Legal provides legal representation, analysis, and strategies to community-based coalitions working toward equity in economic development and criminal justice.

Under Julian's leadership, PolicyLink Legal provided high-impact representation and assistance in its first year of operation to community-based coalitions, local government allies, and other equity advocates. These efforts included the following.

  • Provided legal assistance to Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), a community-based organization in South Central Los Angeles, to secure a legally binding commitment of over $20 million of affordable housing in a neighborhood facing immense gentrification pressures
  • Represented community-based organizations in Silicon Valley in negotiation of a legally binding agreement with Facebook, under which the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) will administer and invest a $20 million contribution from Facebook—and an additional $55 million in leveraged capital—for local affordable housing needs
  • Partnered with community advocates in San Francisco by providing legal and technical support to achieve police reform
  • Provided legal and technical assistance regarding negotiation structures to equity advocates crafting broad-based solutions to the Bay Area's severe housing crisis
  • Provided assistance on equitable development strategies to local stakeholders that are part of the PolicyLink All-In Cities initiative in Fairfax County, Virginia; Buffalo, New York; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Julian is a frequent guest lecturer and presenter on public interest law, land use, community benefits and infrastructure, and race, lecturing in 2017 at Stanford University, University of Toronto, New York University, and the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley.

In 2018 and beyond, Julian Gross and PolicyLink Senior Director Anand Subramanian will co-direct PolicyLink Legal. Lewis Brown, a Senior Associate, will also partner with these co-directors on PolicyLink Legal.

Working in the areas of equitable development and criminal justice reform, PolicyLink Legal will focus on:

  • supporting community coalitions' understanding of complex systems to enable them to develop reform strategies and equity campaigns, and
  • representing advocates in contractual and policy negotiations to achieve concrete equity results, in contexts where equity can be advanced through formal negotiation rather than through public advocacy.