Model & Strategy
Public Rights Projects (PRP) is working at the intersection of community organizing and government to close the gap between the promise of our laws and the lived reality of underserved communities. In 2022, PRP cases protected the rights of 23M people, including securing reproductive rights in Michigan, the right to vote in Pennsylvania, and rights for workers in California. Through 311 partners in 41 states, PRP has helped recover over $40M for people harmed by civil rights violations.
Civil and human rights are under threat. More than half of Americans, especially BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized people, suffer from violations of their legal rights and freedoms despite existing laws that should protect them. When a corporation does not pay their employees, a landlord lets his properties fall into disrepair, a state denies people access to healthcare, or a county prevents an eligible voter from casting a ballot, many are never held accountable for their illegal actions. Gerrymandered legislatures and corporate money in politics undermine civil rights, subvert bodily autonomy, and enable employer exploitation. Federal gridlock abounds; federal courts are stacked with reactionary judges.
State and local government officials stand between these attempts to rig the game and the rights of those often marginalized. But in order to be responsive to their constituents and be allies for civil rights, prosecutors, city attorneys, and state attorneys general need additional capacity, training, and immediate, nimble legal support. These officials have considerable power and discretion in how they enforce laws — and can either counteract or uphold inequity in doing so.
Public Rights Project helps state, local, and tribal prosecutors and other government officials be allies in the fight for civil rights by providing them with the legal resources and training they need to equitably enforce our laws and push back against executive overreach. In light of the current politically-motivated federal landscape, a state-level and judicial approach is needed to advance civil rights. While often painted as impediments to progress (and often for good reason), many law enforcement officials, including prosecutors, district attorneys, and state and tribal attorney generals, can be powerful allies in protecting civil rights when given resources, tools, allies, and a growing pipeline of talent.
PRP’s top priorities are voting, protecting reproductive rights, and workers’ rights, as well as protecting local democracy from state abuses of power. PRP provides support through four levers: litigating, training and professional development, convening and connecting, and storytelling. PRP applies all four of these levers to keep power where it truly belongs: in the hands of communities. PRP is working to create a democracy built by and for the People that delivers equity and justice.
Before founding PRP, Jill Habig served as Special Counsel to then-Attorney General Kamala Harris, working on consumer fraud, health, education, human trafficking, and civil rights. In 2015, she led the creation of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Children’s Justice and managed its civil rights investigations of school districts, child welfare departments, and juvenile justice systems.
In 2006, as a student at Yale Law School, Jill helped create the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project, which paired students with attorneys in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office to develop high-impact litigation. Jill spent her first year as a lawyer in that office, working on the landmark trial challenging Proposition 8 to establish marriage equality in CA. She has been named an Ashoka Fellow, Dial Fellow, and an Open Society Foundations Leadership in Government Fellow for her work building PRP.
Through more than 300 partners and 108 fellows in 41 states, PRP has helped recover over $40M for people harmed by civil rights violations and secured court victories for workers, tenants, consumers, and voters across the country.
In 2022, their cases impacted 23M people, including securing reproductive rights in MI, the right to vote in PA, and rights for workers in CA. Thus far, they have won over 75% of the cases they have been involved in.