Now we all know Michelle Alexander. Whether you’ve read The New Jim Crow or excerpts or just been indoctrinated in her conclusions and radical aura, Michelle Alexander is a 21st century legal legend. When she came and spoke at Berkeley Law, she shocked us all. She has left the law and joined the Union Theological Seminary. There is a plague in our souls, our collective consciousness, that predated and will persist post-COVID. The human spirit has been so corrupted that we are desensitized to avoidable war, housing displacement, hunger, and carceral enslavement. This magical spiritual thread that Michelle Alexander is searching for has a glimmer that may be dimming in common society, but it’s blazing alive at 1950 University Avenue. Lucky for me, I got to be part of the magic by working with Jassmin, Seema, Hewot, Fernando, and my fellow co-interns in the Community Economic Justice (CEJ) Clinic.
In my personal statement to Berkeley Law, I wrote that my goal in coming to law school was “to find the words that will help empower people to tell their own stories.” I wanted to address the complexity and cost barriers I’d seen as a legal assistant preventing people from vindicating their rights. Though I now better understand how broad my original statement was, the Clean Slate Clinic at EBCLC has helped me work towards that goal. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have to participate in this critical work.
Education, Defense & Justice for Youth (EDJY): Education Advocacy Clinic Student Star Student Reflection: Safa Ansari-Bayegan (Berkeley Law c/o 2020)
I spent the fall semester of my second year at Berkeley Law as a student in the East Bay Community Law Center’s Education Advocacy Clinic. Students in the Education Advocacy Clinic work with and advocate for youth of color with disabilities who are navigating the education and juvenile legal systems in Alameda County. Over the course of the semester, I benefited from the mentorship of many incredible EBCLC advocates, and most especially from my supervisor, Rosa Bay.
My mantra, like that of many Oakland natives, has always been, “Fight the power.” I came to law school with the intention of striving for justice on multiple institutional fronts, hoping I could leverage the law to reorganize society’s power imbalances. But throughout most of law school, I grew increasingly disenchanted by lawyers’ limits — both in their conception of justice and in their abilities to achieve meaningful results for impacted people. I resented being in an institution so invested in preserving certain structures (and, by extension, barriers), emphasizing the law’s heightened importance, and praising incremental change above all else. Luckily, the opportunity to intern in EBCLC’s Housing Clinic reminded me of our capacities as legal advocates and taught me the type of lawyer that I want to be.
Congratulations, Class of 2020! Even as we graduate physically apart from one another, we walk into the new unknown together. I feel comforted by you all, knowing that there are advocates like the amazing people that I got to know and work with in the Immigration Clinic.
We kicked off Education, Defense, and Justice for Youth (EDJY) with the question I would ask myself all semester: How do you tell a story that doesn’t belong to you? During orientation, each student had to relay an anecdote to another student, who then shared it with the whole room…
As a Black-serving organization with a deep belief that your race should not determine your survival, EBCLC is outraged. There is a trifecta of crisis upon us and Black folks are disproportionately bearing the burden.
The East Bay Community Law Center is thrilled to announce two new additions to its leadership team. On June 1st, the organization welcomes Jay Kim and Rosa Bay as its new co-deputy directors.
Spring and Fall 2019 Consumer Justice Clinical Student, Ryan Sun, shares three lesson’s he learned while earning his J.D. and Berkeley Law and participating in our clinic.
As my fellow Berkeley Law graduates and I close this chapter of our lives, we are reminded to appreciate the pillars of support that helped us make it to the end. For me, the Consumer Justice Clinic and the wider East Bay Community Law Center (“EBCLC”) community were some of those pillars. Because I am presumably supposed to have come out of these three years somewhat wiser as well, I would like to share three lessons that clinic has taught me.
EBCLC’s Clean Slate Program Coordinator, Juan M. Cabrales, will be joining Berkeley Law’s Class of 2023
It is with great joy that we share with you all today that our Clean Slate Program Coordinator Juan M. Cabrales will be joining Berkeley Law’s Class of 2023 and was awarded the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship covering all tuition expenses!
Juan, a San Diego native, brought his immigration expertise to EBCLC in 2018 as the first Clean Slate Program Coordinator dedicated to “Crimmigration” work. EBCLC is currently one of the only legal service providers in Alameda County that offers crimmigration services at no cost to predominantly low-income people of color. Juan is the son of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college – and now law school – student. He knows first-hand the impacts over-policing has had on immigrant communities and the vital need to remedy both the broken immigration and criminal justice systems. We interviewed Juan to get an insight into the important work he has done at EBCLC, his journey to Berkeley Law, and the crucial need for reentry advocacy for immigrants during COVID-19.