EBCLC Law Students Advance Justice Every Day

Friday, June 1, 2018
At EBCLC’s graduation ceremony on May 10, student speakers Luke Apfeld (L), Lili Siegel, and Sharada Jambulapati welcome their colleagues to the social justice lawyering community. Photo Credit: Jim Block


“Starting in September, I will be the only attorney exclusively representing low-income rural Imperial County students and parents against school districts. About 29,000 kids will be eligible to receive legal aid. I often think about the clients I served during my EBCLC summer. Those clients, and my EBCLC supervisors, believed in me and inspired me to chase this project. As a fresh first-year law student, I was trusted to work on juvenile and immigration cases. Now thousands of kids in need will, hopefully, be positively impacted.”

– Curtis, EBCLC Health & Welfare Clinic graduate

Hearing from former EBCLC students like Curtis underscores that every minute we spend training our students is an investment into a better future.

That said, our students don’t wait until they graduate to make a difference. To wit, EBCLC student Shelby Nacino recently won the prestigious Sax Prize—awarded annually to only one graduating Berkeley Law clinical student— in recognition of her innovation in helping to found EBCLC’s Name and Gender Change Workshop series. Now, future students will be able to carry on the crucial work of helping trans and non-binary people to update their state-issued IDs at Name and Gender Change Workshops this summer and beyond.

Students like Shelby bring a fresh perspective and natural curiosity to EBCLC’s legal work. That’s why they lead the charge in improving EBCLC’s ability to meet ever-changing community needs. Here are just a few highlights of what our 2018 students accomplished:

  • Research to Drive Policy Change: EBCLC Housing Clinic students investigated fraudulent owner move-ins in Oakland, after seeing a spike in clients facing eviction because the owner of their unit claimed to want to reoccupy the home. Future EBCLC students can build on this and utilize the research to advocate for better local policies for low-income tenants.
  • Racial Justice Advocacy: In our Education Defense & Justice for Youth Clinic, students dismantled stereotypes that are often used to justify school push-out by developing a well-researched fact sheet, “Busting 5 Myths about School Violence and Safety.” Next door, their colleagues in the Clean Slate/Reentry Legal Services Clinic analyzed local traffic court policies and created a “Racial Impact Statement” that examines the disproportionate impact that these fines and fees have on people of color in the East Bay and advocates for racially just reforms.
  • Streamlined Direct Services: EBCLC Immigration and Health & Welfare students, noting the dire need for better materials to aid clients with complex questions, created clear, multi-lingual hand-outs providing step-by-step instructions for clients applying for public benefits, cash assistance, and immigration remedies like asylum.
  • Economic Security and Opportunity: Students in our Consumer Justice Clinic built an accessible, mobile-friendly website to provide resources to low-income people who have been harmed by predatory businesses. Meanwhile, Community Economic Justice students created a brochure for clients seeking to form ethical businesses in the community. “This semester we had some really amazing clients ask us, ‘How do we employ and empower undocumented people?’ We wanted to show that a member-managed LLC is a great way to do that,” said Anna, a Community Economic Justice student.

Each year, some 150 students who trained with EBCLC embark into the legal profession as strong leaders, ready to work in solidarity with the communities they serve, to drive real change. No matter what field of law they choose, our students consistently amaze me with the innovative means by which they forge a more just future. Thank you to everyone who has supported EBCLC, making this unique educational programming possible and investing in lasting change!


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