Law Students Fill Spring Break with Pro Bono Work, Advocacy, Networking

Posted Wed, 03/21/2018 - 12:51

USF law students made the most of spring break by participating in several hands-on learning opportunities, expanding their networks and practical experiences.

Students in the Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic attended the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. They made oral presentations to the full Human Rights Council and and other groups, attended resolution drafting sessions where they made oral and written suggestions to the resolutions, and talked to delegates about their projects. 

In San Francisco, 16 first-year students were placed in a law firm, court, business, or nonprofit organization as part of the Open Doors 1L Spring Break Job Shadow Program. They got a firsthand look at what it takes to succeed in the field while developing professional connections, spending a few days with mentors at Sheppard Mullin, the San Francisco District Attorney, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and other institutions.

Some students performed pro bono work with California Rural Legal Assistance in Santa Rosa, helping clients with fair housing issues. They investigated housing discrimination by going into the community to serve as potential home seekers.

“One of the most memorable experiences at the United Nations was my general debate speech on torture reparations for women and girls, the protection of human rights defenders, and the consequences of coercive unilateral measures. The clinic is such a valuable tool for aspiring attorneys and current law students because the oral advocacy skills that you develop can’t be taught in a classroom. My experiences in the clinic have made me a better researcher and writer and given me confidence to stand behind what I write in persuading others to see my side.”
Amy Golinveaux ’18
Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic participant 

“What I took away from the clinic is the understanding that no matter how extensively you’ve researched, at the end of the day, if you can’t translate that research into a clear and convincing statement or argument, then the work is lost because it’s only understood by you. The clinic takes you through the incantations of deep research, to summary, to expansion of that work, back to summary, and finally, once in Geneva, you’re put in a position to lobby your position with real delegates in order to further your goal. These lessons are invaluable, and certainly unobtainable in a regular classroom setting.”
Sara Escalante ’18
Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic participant

Amena Mansoor 1L“It was such an honor to meet Judge Saundra Armstrong and have a personal conversation in her chamber. One of the many things I took away from our meeting is how Judge Armstrong has used the three Ps to be successful: being prepared, punctual, and professional. Practicing the three Ps in my legal career will help me gain success, too.”
Amena Mansoor 1L
Open Doors participant matched with U.S. District Court, Northern District of California Senior District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ’77

Rebecca Brandel 1L“I had an amazing experience at Seyfarth Shaw. Everyone I met was eager to share helpful advice and insights about how to reach my career goals. I can now see myself being extremely fulfilled working in labor and employment defense, which is something I never considered before this program.”
Rebecca Brandel 1L
Open Doors participant at Seyfarth Shaw, pictured here between her mentors

Chris Martinez 2L

My most memorable experience was when I was interviewing a woman during a housing survey, and she described all of the false promises the new landlords had given them. The family was taken advantage of due to their lack of understanding English and not knowing the applicable law to protect them. This experience increased my desire to do pro bono work whenever I am able to in the future during my legal career.
Christopher Jesus Martinez 2L
Volunteer with California Rural Legal Assistance, pictured second from right