Photo of Erika Sato

Erika Sato

  • Hosted by The Sustainable Economies Law Center
  • Sponsored by Baker McKenzie, Salesforce
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Erika (she/her/hers) will collaborate with crisis-response mutual aid groups nationwide to provide legal assistance and develop programs for replicable and sustainable grassroots economic regeneration.

At the outset of COVID-19, people instantly recognized that government aid and charity would be insufficient. Within weeks, communities all over the country began organizing mutual aid networks, at a scale unseen since the Great Depression. Transfers of money, food, and favors have radically reconfigured the flow of resources in communities and reshaped how households can meet their needs. 

These groups have turned to the Sustainable Economies Law Center en masse for legal advice on issues relating to tax, governance, privacy, liability, and entity formation. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of legal support needed. 

Fellowship Plans 

During her Fellowship, Erika will work closely with mutual aid groups as they grow and develop into permanently organized communities that can support their members with access to money, jobs, and economic stability. She will engage in education and training programs on financial regulations and services; help these groups build governance structures for sustainable growth, creating paid jobs and long-term skill development for current volunteers; and help them enter partnerships with local banks or credit unions for lending with borrower-friendly rates and terms.

Erika’s background motivates her commitment to developing a grassroots movement for economic justice and sustainable change.


Eight from Harvard Law named Equal Justice Works Fellows

When I was twelve, my mother—the breadwinner of our family—fell suddenly ill and passed away. Ultimately, it was a supportive community that empowered my family to recover and heal from our loss. In this moment, as communities grapple with the twin health and economic crises wrought by COVID, I felt really inspired by the mutual aid movement’s grounding in hope and community support.

Erika Sato /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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