‘That Freedom to Advocate’
Aida Macedo’s search for the perfect practice
Published in 2023 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine
By Rebecca Mariscal on June 26, 2023
In 2018, Aida Macedo was on the partner track. She’d spent the past six years at Miles, Sears & Eanni doing plaintiff’s litigation, handling multimillion-dollar personal injury, wrongful death and products liability cases.
“I really enjoyed it. They taught me how to practice law in a way I think everybody should be taught, which is in a strategic, smart, and slow-paced way,” she says. The firm supported her pro bono immigration and prisoners’ rights cases, too. “It’s not easy to find a private firm that will really let you do that.”
But after Donald Trump was elected president, she felt the call back to her community. Growing up in a working-class immigrant neighborhood, Macedo had been involved in community organizing since high school. And being a first-generation undergrad and law school student only strengthened that connection. Now, she knew it was time to return to those roots.
“I felt really frustrated with what was happening, and I felt like right now my role is not to be in the courts. I need to be out in the community,” she says. “I really need to help, and figure out how to make things better for people in whatever capacity I can—through policy, through advocacy at the local level, through politics.”
Then, at a 2017 lunch with friend and fellow attorney Amparo Cid, they thought of a possible solution. “We were kind of complaining about how all the jobs we had there was something missing,” Macedo says. “And then we were like, ‘What if we start our own firm?’”
Macedo worked part time to start, and took a position as chief of staff for a Fresno City Council member. Then COVID-19 hit. It was a hectic time, but it allowed her to organize food distributions, mask drives and vaccination clinics. Still, it wasn’t a perfect fit. So, in February 2022, she decided to dedicate herself to Cid & Macedo full time.
The firm is rooted in social justice, and their goals include offering mentorship, making policy changes, and doing social impact work. “We want to be proactive about issues and bring forward policy victories and recommendations that impact change. We can have a victory in court, but if it’s never implemented—if it never reaches the communities that it’s supposed to help—then that victory is limited,” says Macedo.
The attorneys respond to community needs as they arise, from writing briefs for nonprofits to representing community members in court. “It’s definitely my dream job,” Macedo says. “But nobody in my family has a business; I don’t know anyone close to me that runs a business. So this is all new to me.”
But it’s not the first time she’s braved
At UC Irvine, Macedo learned of an academic program in Washington, D.C., that she didn’t think she could do. But with encouragement, she applied to the UCDC program, eventually landing an internship with then-Congressman Xavier Becerra. “A lot of these internships are unpaid,” she says. “I grew up with a single mom. I was barely making it in college with financial aid. The program helps you find scholarships and grants, so I got one small scholarship and I fundraised and worked part time for the rest.”
Those efforts got her to D.C., where she gave tours, responded to letters from Becerra’s constituents, and helped create a support list for a Latino history museum. Becerra also invited his interns to watch him cast votes at the Capitol.
Macedo found herself frequently surrounded by lawyers on Capitol Hill, and realized the strong connection between law and policy—confirming her decision to attend law school. “I saw law as a way to help communities who didn’t have access to lawyers,” she says. “There’s a common theme in my career that I just went for things that I didn’t really understand or know. I was very idealistic, and I still am to a great extent.”
After earning her J.D., Macedo worked at Legal Aid through an Americorps Equal Justice Works Fellowship. “I really liked the commitment of Legal Aid to helping folks who were in really dire situations,” she says. “But I felt that, as a new attorney, I didn’t have the opportunity there to learn litigation.”
Miles, Sears & Eanni gave her that opportunity. Cid & Macedo puts it into practice. “Having a law degree just gives you that freedom to advocate in different ways,” she says. “My job has looked different, but my goal has always been the same.”
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