Marie Appel, JDC Supervising Attorney, Consumer Project
The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) is pleased to recognize Susan Brown as our Volunteer of the Month for July 2015. Brown is a regular volunteer for JDC’s Consumer Project, volunteering at the monthly Consumer Debt Defense and Education Clinics (CDDEC), as well as taking full-scope collection defense cases for low-income consumers.
Originally from Canada where she did class action work in Toronto, Brown moved to the Bay Area in 2012, where she prosecutes consumer class actions and does some media and construction defect work at Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski in San Francisco.
Some of Brown’s first class actions were against payday lenders. Her representation of the clients, lower-income working people trapped by predatory lending practices, made a huge difference in helping them out of the debt cycle. She began volunteering for JDC because it offered her a chance to do similar work to help ordinary people struggling to make ends meet.
Brown’s favorite JDC cases involve advising CDDEC clients about their rights or responsibilities. She remembers one client, a recent immigrant, who had taken out a private loan during an emergency. The lender was charging her extortionate interest rates, and said she would be deported or put in jail if she didn’t pay, which was untrue. Brown found it “really gratifying to be able to provide her with accurate information to reassure her.”
After two years in Berkeley, she now lives in San Francisco. “I love living in the Bay Area, and want to give back, especially to people like JDC’s clients who are struggling as a result of skyrocketing rent and cost of living.” Of volunteering at JDC, Brown states, “It gives me a chance to use my skills to help people.”
Brown really loves the work she does and plans to continue on this path for the foreseeable future, but thinks that down the road she would like to be a mediator or arbitrator. When she’s not litigating or volunteering, Brown loves to travel with her husband as much as possible.