Zoe Brown brings to our team a passion for social justice advocacy and defending housing and human rights.

Prior to joining Open Door Legal, Zoe worked for a housing anti-discrimination nonprofit, representing individuals in the administrative complaint process from intake through settlement or conciliation at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

Zoe also worked anti-forced eviction in the international human rights sector in the past, with two San Francisco human rights organizations. In addition, she has served as a pro bono domestic violence attorney in the East Bay, at the Family Violence Law Center.

Zoe is a Bay Area native and graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Oregon School of Law. In her free time, Zoe enjoys running, indoor rock climbing, and reading contemporary fiction of the Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, and Dave Eggers variety.

We are honored to have Zoe take on our toughest cases, and look forward to the impact she’ll have on one of Bayview’s most pressing needs—housing.


Meet our entire team | Learn more about our work in housing law 

Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.