Press Releases

May 08, 2020

Public Counsel Announces New Vice President and Chief Program Officer

For Immediate Release: May 8, 2020

Media Contact: Joshua Busch, 310-991-2503,

Public Counsel Announces New Vice President and Chief Program Officer

The first Latina in the post, Cindy Pánuco brings strong litigation and leadership experience, and a commitment to civil and human rights to the position

LOS ANGELES, CA – May 8, 2020 – Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm, has announced the selection of Cindy Pánuco as the organization’s new Vice President and Chief Program Officer. After considering candidates from across the nation, Public Counsel elevated a leader from within the organization to the position – Pánuco has been the Directing Attorney of Public Counsel’s Consumer Rights and Economic Justice (CREJ) project for the past year. 

“I am delighted to announce the selection of Cindy Pánuco as Public Counsel’s new Vice President and Chief Program Officer,” said Margaret Morrow, president & CEO of Public Counsel. “Her remarkable legal skill set, leadership abilities, and knowledge of Public Counsel make her an ideal fit for this position. We’re thrilled that she will be able to immediately step in to support our staff and projects, and will help to make our organization stronger, more dynamic, and better positioned to meet the needs of our clients and communities in the years ahead.”

Before joining Public Counsel, Pánuco was a partner at Hadsell Stormer, specializing in civil rights and employment litigation at the trial and appellate levels. Long active in civil and human rights issues, she served President of the Mexican American Bar Association in 2015, and is presently the Secretary of the Board of California Rural Legal Assistance. From 2016-2018, she was named one of the Top 100 Rising Star Lawyers in Southern California and one of the Top 50 Women Rising Stars. Since joining Public Counsel as a directing attorney in 2019, she has spearheaded its litigation efforts in the areas of predatory “PACE” home loans, bail reform, civil rights, and criminal justice debt in LA County. She has served as a litigation resource for attorneys across the organization, and was named a 2019 Rising Star in civil rights.

“As the daughter of immigrants, and first in my family to go to law school, the work and mission of Public Counsel are personal to me,” said Cindy Pánuco. “I am honored to move into a role that allows me to work with our visionary leadership team, board, and incredible advocates across all of Public Counsel, who are standing with our clients in their fights to take on the most pressing issues facing our communities.” 

Pánuco was also a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, is an active member of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, the California Employment Lawyers Association, National Lawyers Guild, and the National Police Accountability Project. For her work as co-counsel in Rodriguez v. City of Los Angeles, which challenged unconstitutional curfew provisions in gang injunctions, Pánuco and her team were California Lawyer Attorney of Year Award recipients in 2017. 

Prior to law school, Ms. Pánuco worked for three years in the Washington, DC Office of then-Congressman Xavier Becerra as a Legislative Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary. She received her B.S. from the University of Southern California, and her J.D. from Loyola Law School Los Angeles. As the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, she is a native Spanish speaker.


Public Counsel is the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Founded in 1970, Public Counsel strives to achieve three main goals: protect the legal rights of disadvantaged children; represent immigrants who have been the victims of torture, persecution, domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes; and foster economic justice by providing individuals and institutions in underserved communities with access to quality legal representation. Through a pro bono model that leverages the talents and dedication of thousands of attorney and law student volunteers, along with an in-house staff of more than 75 attorneys and social workers, Public Counsel annually assists more than 30,000 families, children, immigrants, veterans, and nonprofit organizations and addresses systemic poverty and civil rights issues through impact litigation and policy advocacy.