Pro Bono Conference Opening Plenary

Thank you to our Pro Bono Conference Opening Plenary speakers! Following are some highlight quotes from each participant. To view the recorded video, click here.

Zöe Polk, East Bay Community Law Center:

“We are recovering from the wounds of 2020.”

“We don’t want to go back to a pre-COVID world in which people use the word equity in this very ambiguous way and were scared to say racial equity.”

“We can no longer accept a system that values white wealth above black and brown lives.”

“We have to act like it’s radically possible to change the world.”


Ilyce Shugall, Immigrant Legal Defense:

“Our immigration system has been broken for a long time.”

“From an immigrant advocate perspective, we’re not only exhausted because of the relentless attacks on the communities we serve, but we’re also exhausted just from the almost daily changes in immigration law and procedure.”

“We’re also preparing for more exhaustion in trying to learn new changes in the laws and procedures that we know are coming.”


Cindy Pánuco, Public Counsel

“…feeling like we can catch our breath and maybe start getting out of this survival crisis mode so we can assess how to best move forward.”

“We have to really look at radical change.”

“…there was a larger focus on our mental health and well-being. Organizations and advocates are recognizing the secondary trauma that we’ve all felt.”

“We have to put our oxygen masks on first.”


Maureen Alger, Cooley LLP

“There have been shifts in the type of pro bono that we’re doing.”

“We’ve been shifting from one crisis to another, learning really well how to pivot.”

“Need to figure out how to help with the housing crisis that is coming.”

“There is more of a focus on some of these systemic issues, and systemic racism in particular.”