Staff

Working for LAS–ELC brings the rewards of a collegial and supportive workplace, and the satisfaction of providing a high level of client service. Student law clerks and new attorneys supported by fellowships continually bring new energy and ideas to the programs of the LAS–ELC, and their contributions are highly valued.

Attorneys

  • Joan Messing Graff
    President

    Joan Graff has been President of the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center since 1981. She began her legal career working in the General Counsel’s office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at its headquarters in Washington D.C. Following her move to the Bay Area Ms. Graff joined Equal Rights Advocates as it was being launched and remained there for nearly a decade. The organization was one of the first nonprofit legal organizations in the country dedicated to securing equality for women and it became one of the leading proponents for women’s rights nationally. Ms. Graff has served on a number of boards and advisory committees and in 2006 was awarded the Loren Miller Legal Services Award by the State Bar of California.

    Ms. Graff received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1967 and her B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1964. She is a member of the Bars of California and the District of Columbia.

  • Marsha Chien
    Skadden Fellow

    Marsha Chien is a Skadden Fellow with the National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program.  She represents, educates, and advises low-income, limited-English proficient (LEP) workers arbitrarily barred from equal employment opportunities.  Prior to starting her fellowship at LAS-ELC, she clerked for United States District Judge Marsha J. Pechman in the Western District of Washington.  Marsha received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and obtained her undergraduate degree in International Economics from Georgetown University.  Before law school, Marsha served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and an AmeriCorps member in Washington, D.C.

  • Lan Diep
    Shartsis Friese LLP Public Interest Fellow

    Lan Diep is a Shartsis Friese LLP Public Interest Fellow and directs LAS-ELC’s Vietnamese American Workers Rights Project, which aims to create better working conditions for low income, limited-English-proficient Vietnamese Americans. Lan organizes Vietnamese-language know-your-rights workshops and legal clinics to help Vietnamese Americans learn about and defend their rights in the workplace. Prior to coming to LAS-ELC, Lan served as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at the Mississippi Center for Justice, where he helped limited-English-proficient Vietnamese American fishermen seek compensation in the aftermath of the BP Oil Disaster. Lan earned his J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and dual bachelor degrees in Political Science and History from the University of California, San Diego. He also serves as a civilian Vietnamese-language consultant to the Department of Defense as a charter member of the National Language Service Corps.

  • Fernando Flores
    Staff Attorney
    Director, WageHELP Program

    Fernando Flores is a Staff Attorney in the Wage and Hour Litigation Program. Fernando provides court representation for low-income workers whose rights to lawful wages and time off have been violated. Fernando comes to the Society from Centro Legal De La Raza where he was a Shartsis Friese Fellow. In addition to supervising employment and housing clinics, he represented tenants at administrative Rent Board hearings, mediated uninhabitable living condition cases, and litigated on behalf of tenants facing unlawful detainer proceedings. Prior to Centro Legal, Fernando was a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles where he performed the same duties he achieves with LAS–ELC: litigating wage and hour issues and unemployment appeals, community education, and training counselors to represent clients in administrative proceedings. He received his J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law in 2007 and his B.A. in Sociology and Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Michael T. Gaitley
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, Community Legal Services

    Mike Gaitley is a Senior Staff Attorney at the LAS–ELC. He manages the LAS–ELC’s Community Legal Services Program, where his primary responsibility is supervision of the LAS–ELC’s Workers’ Rights Clinics held in-person throughout the Bay Area, and statewide by telephone. Prior to becoming a Staff Attorney, Mr. Gaitley was a sole-practitioner focusing on employment-related litigation and related services. Mr. Gaitley also worked as a union official and attorney with Pan Am’s flight attendant union. Mr. Gaitley is a 1984 graduate of Pace University Law School and a 1979 graduate of the University of Michigan. Mr. Gaitley currently serves as an adjunct professor at University of California - Hastings College of the Law.

  • Gina Gemello
    Project Attorney

    Gina Gemello is a Project Attorney with the Disability Rights Program.  In addition to directing the Workers’ Rights Disability Law Clinic at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, Gina represents individual clients, organizes public workshops, and performs community outreach on topics of interest to workers with disabilities.  Gina received her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she was the co-recipient of the “Clinical Student of the Year” award, and her B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Gina has clerked and volunteered at the East Bay Community Law Center, General Assistance Advocacy Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Indian Justice Center, and the Neighborhood Justice Clinic, among others. Prior to law school, Gina was an editor and director at a nonprofit feminist press in San Francisco; she currently serves as its board president. 

  • Christopher Ho
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program

    Christopher Ho, Director of the National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program, has been with LAS–ELC since 1987, first as its Félix Velarde-Muñoz Graduate Intern and then, upon his return in 1990, as a staff attorney. His primary focus has been on litigation against practices that disproportionately impact language minorities, undocumented workers, and recent immigrants. Mr. Ho has also worked on cases in the areas of race and sexual orientation discrimination, wage and hour rights and workplace privacy, and served as lead class counsel in Tracy v. Yellow Cab, which successfully enjoined unlawful employment practices in the San Francisco taxi industry affecting thousands of drivers. He was the recipient of a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award in 2004 for his work on Rivera v. Nibco, Inc. and Singh v. Jutla, two cases that reaffirmed the right of undocumented immigrants to seek legal redress for workplace discrimination and retaliation. He also was given the Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy in 2006 by the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and Stanford Law School’s Alumni Public Service Award in 2007. Mr. Ho received his B.A. in political science from Yale in 1977, an A.M. in government from Harvard in 1980, and his J.D. from Stanford in 1987. In 2001, he was a Windcall Resident Fellow in Belgrade, Montana.

  • Jinny Kim
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, Disability Rights Program

    Jinny Kim is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Disability Rights Program at LAS–ELC. Jinny joined LAS–ELC in 1999 as the Félix Velarde-Muñoz Fellow and litigated race, disability, national origin and gender cases. Thereafter, she was a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow where she served as Labor Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy on the Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Prior to returning to LAS–ELC in 2008 as a Staff Attorney, Jinny held positions at the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, as well as Schneider, Wallace, Cottrell, Brayton and Konecky, and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian. Jinny received her J.D. in 1999 from the University of California, Davis and her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995.

  • Elizabeth Kristen
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program

    Elizabeth Kristen is the Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program and a Senior Staff Attorney at the LAS–ELC. She represents workers in employment discrimination cases including cases involving discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, and race as well as cases in which employers have violated family and medical leave laws. She also engages in community education, negotiations, litigation and policy work on behalf of female students who have not been afforded equal athletic opportunities under Title IX. Prior to beginning her work at LAS–ELC in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. She graduated from Berkeley Law in 2001 where she was selected for the Order of the Coif. She also served as an Editor for the California Law Review. Ms. Kristen is a member of the American Association of University Women, the National Employment Lawyers Association and the California Employment Lawyers Association and a past Board member of the Pride Law Fund. In 2012-13, she served as a Harvard law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow.  She was a lecturer at Berkeley Law School from 2008-2013.  She is currently a member of CELA Voice.

  • Rachael Langston
    Staff Attorney

    Rachael Langston is a Staff Attorney in the Gender Equity and Disability Rights Programs. Rachael joined the LAS–ELC in 2008. She advises and represents workers with disabilities, with a primary focus on disability discrimination and failure to accommodate in the workplace. Rachael also provides community education regarding the rights of employees with disabilities, and participates in legislative advocacy to expand the rights of workers who have familial care giving responsibilities. She received her J.D. in 2008 from the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. from Texas Tech University in 2005.

  • Shira Levine
    Stanford Public Interest Law Fellow

    Shira Levine is a Stanford Public Interest Law Fellow in the Wage and Hour Enforcement Litigation Program (WageHELP).  She represents low-wage workers in state and federal court with wage theft claims.  She also directs the Wage Claim Clinics, onsite clinics at the California Labor Commissioner’s San Francisco and Oakland offices.  Prior to starting her fellowship at LAS-ELC, Shira clerked for the Honorable Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2012-2013.  Shira received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2005 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2012.  Before law school, Shira taught bilingual first grade in the Bronx.

  • William C. McNeill. III
    Managing Attorney
    Director, Racial Equality Program

    Bill McNeill is the Managing Attorney and Director of the Racial Equality Program at the LAS–ELC. Bill has been with the LAS–ELC since 1988 and served as the Managing Attorney since 1998. He has been involved in civil rights issues for more than 30 years, and has litigated a number of cases designed to advance the rights of minorities, including Davis v. City and County of San Francisco, which resulted in the integration of the fire department, increased opportunity for people of color in hiring and promotions, and the appointment of the first black chief in the City’s history. Bill began his legal career in 1971 as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He then worked as an attorney with the Atlanta Regional Litigation Center for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as the director of the Title VII Project at the San Francisco Office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and as regional counsel for California Rural Legal Assistance. He has received two honors from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. for his litigation work combating employment discrimination. Bill received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1971 and his A.B. in Economics from Oberlin College in 1965. He is a member of the California, Georgia, and Massachusetts Bars.

  • Julia Parish
    Project Attorney

    Julia Parish is a Project Attorney with the Work and Family and SURVIVE Projects. Julia assists with the project helplines and provides legal advice, know-your-rights workshops, and direct legal services for workers struggling with family and medical crises. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 2011 as well as her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the university. She also has a M.S. in Teaching from Pace University. Julia was previously a legal intern with the Gender Equity Program at LAS–ELC, and has training in family legal issues from her legal internship at East Bay Community Law Center. Prior to Law School, Julia was a High School Spanish teacher and sports coach.

  • Ruth Silver Taube
    Senior Staff Attorney

    Ruth Silver Taube is a Senior Staff Attorney at LAS-ELC, where she supervises the South Bay Workers’ Rights Clinic. Through the clinic, Ruth trains law students and attorneys who provide advice, information, and representation, primarily at the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, and at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mediations. She also conducts outreach and education, and works on human trafficking, equal pay, and disability rights issues with local community partners. Ruth recently worked with the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California to establish a Workers’ Rights Clinic in San Jose. Before joining LAS-ELC, Ruth clerked for the Honorable Ronald M. Whyte, District Court Judge, Northern District of California, San Jose Division. Previously, she worked as an Associate Attorney at Cotchett, Illston, & Pitre and as a federal mediator at the EEOC. Ruth also litigated employment cases in private practice at the Law Office of Silver & Taube and currently specializes in ERISA disability cases. Prior to law school, she was a journeyman machinist, President of IAM Local 547, and a Field Representative for SEIU Local 535. Ruth received her B.A. with high distinction from the University of Michigan where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa; her M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley; and her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law summa cum laude, where she currently serves as an Adjunct Professor.

  • Sharon Terman
    Senior Staff Attorney

    Sharon Terman is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Gender Equity Program of The LAS–ELC. She represents workers with family and medical leave claims as well as claims of pregnancy, gender, and disability discrimination. She also provides legal advice to low-income workers, engages in community education, and participates in legislative advocacy to expand workers’ rights. Sharon received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1998 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2004. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2004-2005. She joined LAS–ELC as a Skadden Fellow in 2005 and became a Staff Attorney in 2007.

  • Kim Turner
    John and Terry Levin Fellow, Fair Play for Girls in Sports

    Kim Turner is the John and Terry Levin Fellow for the Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project.  Through litigation, education, and policy work, Kim advocates for equality in athletic opportunities for female youth—particularly in low-income communities—based on Title IX and AB 2404.  Since graduating from Cardozo Law School in New York City in 2008, Kim has practiced a mixture of employment and housing law, most recently with Bay Area Legal Aid.  She received her B.A. from Brown University in 2002, double concentrating in Public Policy and Sociology.  At Brown, Kim also played for the varsity women’s volleyball team.

  • Carole Vigne
    Staff Attorney

    Carole Vigne is a Staff Attorney in the Community Legal Services Program. She provides information, advice, and representation to workers on their employment rights, with a focus on wage and hour and unemployment insurance issues. Carole also trains and supervises legal advocates to represent clients at administrative wage claim hearings and unemployment insurance appeals and engages in community education. Carole was previously a Skadden Fellow with LAS–ELC’s National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program, working to expand the rights of immigrant workers and serving San Francisco’s immigrant, limited-English-proficient, Latino workers through a workers’ rights clinic. She also litigated employment law cases at Rukin, Hyland, Doria & Tindall, LLP, and previously worked at the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Carole received her B.A. from Brown University in 2001 and her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2007.

Special Counsel

Program Services

External Relations and Development

Administration