FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
James Zahradka

James Zahradka

Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Supervising Attorney
San Jose, CA, USA

Since May 2001, James Zahradka has been an attorney at Public Interest Law Firm (PILF), a program of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley based in San Jose, California. There, he has worked on a broad variety of impact litigation matters seeking to effect change for underrepresented people in Silicon Valley, using state and federal class actions as well as writ petitions and lawsuits involving large groups of plaintiffs. Among other cases, James has represented:


  • Borrowers who were targeted for predatory mortgage loans and mortgage modification scams;
  • People with mental health and developmental disabilities in housing discrimination suits;
  • Students and parents in race discrimination and language access cases;
  • Jail inmates in suits relating to their constitutional right of court access and the misappropriation of inmate welfare funds; and
  • Low-income residents in affordable housing and slumlord cases.


In January 2010, James was named Supervising Attorney of PILF and its sister program Fair Housing Law Project (FHLP). In that role, he directly supervises two attorneys and co-supervises two additional attorneys and two legal assistants.

In addition to the above pieces of litigation, James has advocated at local, state, and federal levels on policy issues important to PILF's client population.  He is currently chair of the Board of Directors of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a statewide organization with 300 member organizations which advocates for the right of low-income communities and communities of color to have fair and equal access to banking and other financial services.

Prior to his work at the Law Foundation, James practiced public interest and public sector law in Alaska and Southern California, clerking on the Alaska Supreme Court and representing Indian tribes and individuals in various legal and policy arenas as a staff attorney for California Indian Legal Services.  At CILS, James's work included fighting to preserve priceless cultural artifacts, helping to ensure that tribes received just compensation for incursions onto their lands, and advocating for Indian tribes' and individuals' rights in child custody proceedings; he was lead counsel on two state-court appeals in the latter context.

James was also involved in civil rights and human rights issues during law school at the University of California, Davis (King Hall).  During the summer of 1997, James worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and was stationed in Sarajevo.  There, James helped an international panel of jurists adjudicate allegations of irregularities in the run-up to municipal elections. The prior summer, James worked in Budapest for the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute, researching issues relating to Central European legal reform. Additionally, James participated in his law school's Civil Rights and Criminal Justice clinical programs. At the former, James successfully briefed and argued a case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; at the latter, he worked on several felony matters for the Office of the Federal Defender, including United States v. Kaczinski.

James graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin in 1993 with majors in German and Political Science. At UW, James was Managing Editor of The Daily Cardinal, one of the nation's oldest student newspapers. He taught English to eighth-graders in Eger, Hungary for a year, and has lived in various parts of Central Europe for some 20 months altogether.


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