San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Yale Law School and a group of legal nonprofits have collaborated to put together a legal roadmap for cities and municipal law offices interested in going to court to protect residents’ rights.

In a guidebook released Wednesday called “Local Action, National Impact: A Practical Guide to Affirmative Litigation for Local Governments,” officials with the city, Yale Law and legal nonprofits Public Rights Project and Justice Catalyst chronicle the dozen-year partnership between the law school and the city to bring impact litigation in areas of consumer protection, civil rights and the environment. According to the school, Yale law students spent roughly 30,000 hours volunteering for the city as part of the first 10 years of the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project.

“Local governments have always had a critical role to play in protecting civil rights, consumers and the environment,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera in a press release announcing the guidebook’s release. “It’s time for more public law offices to utilize their authority. Get involved, find a law school to partner with, and join us in standing up for the people.”

Where many municipal law offices see their role as responsive, the guide makes the case that affirmative litigation can allow cities to protect vulnerable residents and the legal interests of cities, and allow them to address local problems with local solutions. The guide, perhaps more controversially, notes that affirmative litigation can potentially help local governments collect revenues through restitution and penalties.

Read the full guidebook below: