A Word from the Executive Director
Thankful, grateful, privileged – are three words that come to my mind as I consider the work we do at the Alexander Community Law Center. We have the unique opportunity of educating law students to be social justice advocates while serving the legal needs of our low-income community. In this ever-changing legal environment that threatens our very humanity, we have a duty to use our legal resources to serve others and seek solutions to injustice.
We find solace in our work and inspiration from our students — the future generation of attorneys. Read their stories below and see why we do what we do.
On October 7th, we paused to Celebrate the wonderful solidarity exhibited this year by faculty, staff, students, and the broader legal community. Thank you for the wonderful outpouring of support. Click here to view Celebration photos and the event page. Enjoy these special memories. Together We Rise!
Deborah Moss West
“My Experience at the Law Center Taught Me What Kind of Attorney I Want to Be” – Dereck Rovaris, JD/MBA Candidate
From the time I enrolled at Santa Clara Law in the fall of 2014 I always heard great things about the Alexander Community Law Center. I wrongfully assumed that taking courses at the Law Center would not be of much help because I was not specifically interested in immigration law, worker’s rights or consumer rights. But I decided to keep myself busy this past summer by signing up for both the immigration law clinic and the workers’ rights interviewing and advising clinic. The clinics changed my perspective, and I really wish I had done this much sooner.
Working directly under Lynette Parker and Ruth Silver-Taube, my supervising attorneys, I gained many practical skills related to immigration and workers’ rights. I sharpened my interviewing skills, learned new techniques and strategies for representing and communicating with clients, and greatly improved my Spanish. I was lucky enough to be chosen by Professor Silver-Taube to represent a client in mediation against his former employer at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). I learned so much through this experience. After collecting evidence, I submitted a brief to the EEOC detailing how the client had been discriminated against based on his age, and Prof. Silver Taube and I negotiated a good settlement for the client.
My favorite part of this experience has been the impact I am able to make in people’s lives with my work. This summer I helped two different families of trafficking victims file applications for permanent residence in the United States. Meeting with these families and seeing them smile was such a rewarding part of this experience.
Most importantly, I learned new things about myself and about what kind of attorney I want to be – I genuinely enjoy using my skills to help people directly, no matter the practice area.
“The Law Center gives me the opportunity to use my legal and language skills to make a difference in people’s lives.” – Thania Lopez, 2L
Second-year law student Thania Lopez seemed to be in her element interviewing the families and individuals who attended the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the Mexican Consulate in South San Jose. “I like working with people, particularly the Spanish-speaking community,” she says as she tries to sort through the legal issues revealed by her interviewees, a married couple who braved the after-work traffic and the heat of a late August day to attend the clinic. Thania was at the Consulate as part of the Interviewing and Advising course. The weekly clinics normally take place at the Alexander Community Law Center, but on this occasion the Consulate hosted the event as part of its yearly Workers’ Rights Week.
“I first became intrigued by the Law Center during my first year, when I learned about volunteering in its community workshops,” she says, referring to the informational presentations given throughout the community in the areas of tenant, consumer and workers’ rights as a way to educate individuals about their rights. Thania’s natural next step was to sign up for the Interviewing and Advising clinic during her second year, focusing on Workers“ Rights. At the clinic, Thania applies what she learns in the classroom right away. Knowing how to interview clients, spot potential legal issues and document information will all be well-honed skills by the time she completes the clinic.
Thania graduates in 2019, with her interests pointing towards immigration and landlord-tenant rights. Regardless of which area she chooses, she knows that her clinical skills will prove essential not only for the remainder of her studies, but also as she looks beyond law school.
“Regardless of what professional path I decide to take, I know I can count on the skills I learned at the Law Center” – Megan Kaufman, 3L
Megan Kaufman can’t help but marvel at the speed of her law school experience. Already in her third year, Megan’s only regret is that she “did not participate in the Law Center experience earlier.” She enrolled in the Skills I and Skills II courses during the summer and fall of this year. “I heard from other law students that the Alexander Community Law Center provides a good roadmap to many of the things you have to do as an attorney. The experience has been better than I expected. It’s easy to learn when you know that you can ask any question to your supervising attorney or the staff.”
During the summer, Megan worked with Ms. M, a client who had been exploited by her employer. Ms. M had initially attended a Workers’ Rights clinic and was later referred to the Immigration clinic. Thanks to its holistic approach, the Law Center helped Ms. M recover her unpaid wages and adjust her immigration status, the latter of which was Megan’s task. “Working with Ms. M was always a pleasure. I could also apply my classroom learning to real life right away. It felt good to help someone,” said Megan..
While Megan is drawn to tax law and sees herself working for a firm in that field upon graduation, she is confident that her Law Center skills will help her along the way. “Both fields deal heavily with federal regulations, including many online forms and procedures, and both require an ability to work with clients. Thanks to my Law Center experience, I now have both.”
Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center
1030 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126
Phone: (408) 288-7030 | Fax: (408) 288-3581