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avatar for Cynthia Chandler

Cynthia Chandler

BALI-Bay Area Legal Incubator
Director
Oakland, CA
As Director of BALI | Bay Area Legal Incubator, Cynthia Chandler’s work is 90% fairy godmother and 10% fixer – she makes attorneys’ dreams come true while keeping them out of trouble and promoting social justice. BALI is an Oakland, California-based, social-mission, legal incubator launched by the Alameda County Bar Association to accelerate the launch of affordable, community law practices.

Cynthia has over 20 years’ experience as a social entrepreneur, activist, academic and attorney. She co-founded and built several innovative social justice organizations, including Critical Resistance, Justice Now, and the Eviction Defense Center. She has coached dozens of social entrepreneurs in building seminal ventures. As an attorney, her practice is equally innovative: when law does not allow the relief she seeks for her clients, she changes it. For example, she helped create the compassionate release legal process in CA and nationally, allowing a mechanism for releasing people dying in prison. Cynthia spent much of the last 10 years documenting California’s illegal policy of coercive sterilization of women in prison through 2012, and drafting successful ameliorative legislation to stop this abuse. Cynthia maintains a legislative practice, contributing to key legislation aimed at shrinking imprisonment.

Cynthia has received numerous awards for her innovative legal work, including: California Women Lawyers’ prestigious Fay Stender Award, 2015; Women's Health Activist Network’s Top 30 Activist for Women's Health, 2005; Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award, 2001; and California Law Business’ Attorney to Whom California Can Be Most Grateful, 1997.

Cynthia received her JD from Harvard Law School and a MPhil in Criminology from University of Cambridge.

Cynthia is the mother of two activist daughters. She learns from them daily.