Berkeley Voices, Research, People, Politics & society, Law

'Be the Change': Purvi Shah on the moments of beauty as a civil rights lawyer

By Anne Brice

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portrait of a person smiling with the text "Be the Change, Purvi Shah" written to her right
Purvi Shah is the founder and executive director of Movement Law Lab, a civil rights litigator, policy advocate and law professor who has spent over a decade working at the intersection of law and grassroots social movements. (Photo courtesy of Purvi Shah; UC Berkeley design by Neil Freese)

In this episode of Be the Change, host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Purvi Shah.

Shah is the founder and executive director of Movement Law Lab and a civil rights litigator, policy advocate and law professor who has spent over a decade working at the intersection of law and grassroots social movements.

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Berkeley News is highlighting innovators on campus that bring societal benefit through their work and research.

During their conversation, they talk about the nuts and bolts of founding a legal nonprofit in response to current events, and the intellectual and philosophical theory behind movement lawyering, a type of lawyering that aims to support and foment lasting social change.

"Its not that we have to have all of this stuff, all of these virtues amassed, before we can engage in the work," Nolan says. "Doing the work actually helps us amass what we need in order to do it better."

"That, to me, is one of the biggest beauties of being in social justice work: If youre doing it right, all you have to do is show up and be persistent and committed and have your words, like what you say youre going to do, actually be what you do," says Shah. "But the work over the years will transform you. It will teach you. And that hope and that imagination, that sense of its possible, I think thats such a powerful thing."

Shah and Nolan also talk about when it might be a good thing to loosen your grip on your power, how confidence is a process, and moments that give you chills in a good way as a lawyer.

This is the last episode of season two of Be the Change, a collaboration between UC Berkeley's Office of Communications and Public Affairs and Berkeley Law. In the special series, Nolan interviews changemakers who embody the transformation they want to see in the world. You can find all episodes on the Berkeley Voices podcast.

See allBe the Changeepisodes.


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