Affordable legal assistance for sustainable and just communities.

Practice Areas

As of March 20, 2020, I am no longer taking clients for the foreseeable future. I will be moving into a public service career as a deputy city attorney for the City of Berkeley. Thank you!

I provide legal advice on a sliding scale for tenants, grassroots organizations, and social entrepreneurs.

I believe everyone should have access to high-quality legal representation. If you need help navigating the legal landscape your housing community or social enterprise finds itself in, get in touch. Below is a non-exhaustive list of my services. Contact me to see if I can help, or refer you to someone else who can.

Housing and Landlord / Tenant Law

  • Cooperative housing
  • Real estate investment cooperatives
  • Agreements: tenants-in-common, co-ownership, leases
  • Advice on evictions and tenant protections

Land Use and Community Development

  • Zoning and other local land use regulation
  • Land trusts
  • Easements
  • Community benefits agreements

Nonprofits, Cooperatives, and Social Enterprise

  • Choice of entity and formation
  • Bylaws / Operating Agreements
  • Fiscal sponsorship agreements
  • Contract drafting
  • Employment law
  • 501(c)(3) tax exemption
  • Subchapter T taxation for cooperatives

About Me

I came to the law from a grassroots, community organizing background, and my work is motivated by expanding access to legal services. I am particularly passionate about democratic, community control of housing, land, and workplaces. My current position at the Sustainable Economies Law Center has trained me to serve worker-owned businesses, nonprofits, land trusts, social enterprises, and other creative projects which I believe can help build a more just society. I look forward to helping your idea get off the ground, or helping your existing endeavor to navigate legal gray areas.

Legal Experience

  • Staff Attorney, Sustainable Economies Law Center (current)– housing and worker cooperatives, nonprofits, land trusts, local government law, policy advocacy
  • Public Advocates– affordable housing, land use
  • East Bay Community Law Center– immigration, landlord/tenant law
  • Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger– environmental, CEQA, local government law, affordable housing
  • Accountability Counsel– environmental, human rights


  • JD, UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)
  • BA, University of Washington, Journalism and Sociology

Bar Admissions

  • California
View my full resume

Contact Information

Law Office of Sara Stephens
P.O. Box 10892
Oakland, CA 94610
Please do not provide any confidential information when you contact me. No attorney-client relationship is formed when you contact me.

Send me a message

Let me know how I can help.