Kathryn Seligman was raised by politically active parents who nurtured her lifelong commitment to work for social justice and against systematic discrimination—values she passed on to her son, Matthew Bedrick.
When Seligman entered Berkeley Law in 1978, she was “laser-focused” on “working in a federally funded legal services office representing the poor.” Although she achieved that goal, President Reagan slashed the legal services budget in the early ’80s, so Seligman became a lecturer at Berkeley Law in 1985. Aware of the local community’s pressing needs, she worked with interested students to establish an in-house legal aid clinic for poor people.
Seligman self-funded a trip to Harvard Law to study the practices of its on-campus legal services clinic. Returning to Berkeley Law, she and the students presented their plan. The law school administration opposed hosting or funding a law school-based legal aid clinic but was willing to allow students to earn credit at an-off campus clinic.
Seligman and the students founded the Berkeley Community Law Center in 1988. Berkeley Law required an on-campus class for students working at the clinic; Seligman and Stephen Rosenbaum ’80 initially taught that course in poverty law practice.
A few years later, Berkeley Law started funding the successful clinic. Now known as the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), it has become Alameda County’s largest provider of legal services to low-income people.