Meet The Apprentices and Mentors

The Apprentices:

Christina Oatfield, Law Apprentice at Cutting Edge Counsel, and Policy Director at the Sustainable Economies Law Center
Christina Oatfield works at the Sustainable Economies Law Center as the Policy Director and at Cutting Edge Counsel as a legal apprentice. At SELC she advocates for laws that enable more sustainable, local and resilient economies. She managed the successful grassroots campaign to enact the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), a cottage food law for California. Her policy work currently focuses on small food enterprises and cooperatives of many kinds. She serves on the Steering Committees of both the California Food Policy Council and Slow Money Northern California. As part of the Law Office Study Program of the State Bar of California, she studies corporate and securities law, among other legal topics, with support from attorneys Kim Arnone and Jenny Kassan at Cutting Edge Counsel in Oakland. Christina earned her B.S. in Environmental Sciences at UC Berkeley where she wrote a thesis about student-run food cooperatives and co-founded the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Prior to working for SELC, Christina identified and counted insects in an agroecology lab, worked for a tech start-up, managed a green retail store, ran an underground restaurant, planned events and was an assistant at another nonprofit organization.
Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, Law Apprentice at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, and SELC City Policies Program Director & Community Currencies Program Director

Yassi_Eskandari_Sustainable_Economies_Law_CenterYassi directs SELC’s City Policies and Community Currencies programs, identifying the legal barriers to the grassroots sharing economy, including shared transportation, shared housing, urban farming, local currencies, barter networks, and time banks. These programs also produce essential legal resources and timely policy solutions that foster localized production, ownership, and exchange.

Yassi holds a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies and minor in City & Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley (’11). While a student, she received numerous leadership awards, taught a student-led course on sustainable food systems, and co-founded and served on the board of Berkeley’s first student-run food collective. Yassi has been enrolled in the California State Bar’s Law Office Study Program since January of 2013 under the mentorship of attorney Janelle Orsi. Once a licensed attorney, Yassi intends to practice in the areas of food & farming, housing & land, community-owned renewable energy, and community currencies, and to continue to strengthen the grassroots sharing economy through local and regional policy change.

Ricardo NunezRicardo Samir Nuñez, Law Apprentice at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, and SELC Legal Services Program Director Ricardo coordinates the Resilient Communities Legal Café, a 6-month pilot program that provides direct legal support to individuals and groups working to create new solutions for resilient local economies in Oakland. He also manages SELC’s social media communication and community outreach, in addition to Co-opLaw.org, a collaborative legal resource library of SELC and the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3). Ricardo is also participating in the Law Office Study Program of the State Bar of California under the auspices of Janelle Orsi. Ricardo is on the board of the Los Angeles Worker Ownership Resources and Cooperative Services (LAWORCS) Committee, an initiative to start a worker’s cooperative incubator for the greater L.A. area. Previously, Ricardo was a Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Case Manager where he worked with low-income families to stop pending evictions and re-house our homeless neighbors in southern LA County. Prior to his housing work, Ricardo was a Rural Education Development Specialist in Zambia with the U.S. Peace Corps. Ricardo led efforts in capacity building with 15 rural, up-country schools, establishing two village based Women’s Cooperatives, and educating multiple Farmer’s Cooperatives on sustainable farming practices.
Chris Tittle, Director of Organizational Resilience at the Sustainable Economies Law Center
SONY DSCChris is passionate about cultivating more participatory and place-based models of community resilience. As the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Director of Organizational Resilience, he is focused on democratic governance for the next economy, and stewards much of SELC’s internal resilience and grassroots fundraising. He co-leads SELC’s Community Currencies and Land Programs, and contributes to the Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, Housing, and Food programs.

As an advocate of self-directed (and debt-free) education, he is excited to be participating in the California Law Office Study program. He has apprenticed at the law office of Linda Alvarez and the law office of Scott Pesetsky. Chris completed an MA in Economics for Transition at Schumacher College, an international whole-person learning center near Totnes, UK. His dissertation explored permaculture and a Rights of Nature framework as more culturally-appropriate and generative responses to climate change adaptation in the Global South. Chris has previously worked as an ecological educator and outdoor guide with inner-city youth, and an environmental journalist, earning his BA in Non-Western History and Poverty Studies from Washington and Lee University. His writing can be found on Shareable.net, MNN.com, and his blog at oaktreegarden.wordpress.com.

The Supervisors/Mentors:

Janelle Orsi, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Sustainable Economies Law Center
Current Law Apprentice Mentor

Janelle2Outside of her work with the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Janelle Orsi is an attorney and mediator focused on helping individuals and organizations share resources and create more sustainable communities. Through the Law Office of Janelle Orsi, she works with cooperatives, community gardens, cohousing communities, ecovillages, and others doing innovative work to change the world.  She attended UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. In 2010, Janelle was profiled by the American Bar Association as a Legal Rebel, an attorney who is “remaking the legal profession through the power of innovation.” In 2012, Janelle was one of 100 people listed on The (En)Rich List, which names individuals “whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures.”

Janelle is author of the book Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy (ABA Books 2012), and co-author of The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community (Nolo 2009), a practical and legal guide to cooperating and sharing resources of all kinds.

Jenny Kassan, CEO of Cutting Edge Capital, Parter at K2 Law Group, Community-Enterprise Program Director and Co-Founder of the Sustainable Economies Law Center
Current Law Apprentice Mentor
jennyJenny Kassan is an attorney and community development consultant, specializing in environmentally friendly and socially responsible ventures. She practices law through her firm K2 Law Group and she is also C.E.O. of Cutting Edge Capital, a business that helps social enterprises raise capital from their communities. Her legal practice areas include small business start-up and financing, securities regulation, nonprofit law, business agreements, real estate development, franchising, cooperatives, and assessment districts.Jenny earned a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School. She worked for eleven years at the Unity Council, a nonprofit community development corporation in Oakland, where she served as staff attorney and managed community economic development projects including the formation and management of several social ventures designed to employ and create business ownership opportunities for low-income community residents.
Linda Alvarez, Current Law Apprentice MentorlindaimageThe first twenty years of Linda Alvarez’s professional life were spent pursuing a successful career in the Arts. In the mid-1990’s Linda reentered the academic world earning her law degree, magna cum laude, in 1997.  She entered private practice in the large firm environment — including Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Palo Alto) and Vinson & Elkins (Houston).Beginning with her engagement as a member of the team successfully defending the first mp3 player to come to market[1], Linda has remained active on the frontier where digital technology pushes the boundaries of legal concepts designed for the analog and print-based era.  As Senior Counsel for Litigation and Trademarks at Align Technology, Inc., Linda managed major litigations on behalf of the corporation as well as shepherding the company’s valuable consumer trademark portfolio. With the successful conclusion of the litigations in 2005, Linda chose to re-focus her career toward transactional work and launched her solo practice.Linda developed the Discovering Agreement model as a way to re-frame the negotiation process, the drafting of contract language, and the performance of contractual relationships. Whereas conventional perspectives cast the parties as adversaries and bargaining power as a function of dominance, the Discovering Agreement model orients the parties as collaborators designing their ideal business relationship and leveraging their combined power to achieve better results than either party alone could manage.

In 2012, Linda was recognized by the American Bar Association as a “Legal Rebel” for her work in bringing change to the legal system.

About the Sustainable Economies Law Center:

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) cultivates a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We provide essential legal tools — education, research, advice, and advocacy — so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community.

Our work focuses on practices that promote justice and sharing, including cooperativescommunity currenciescommunity enterpriseslocal investing, community-owned renewable energy, cohousingurban agriculture, and other innovative economic strategies.

Based in Oakland, California, SELC is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Ventures, a California 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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