The USF Law National Lawyers Guild student chapter, revived and revitalized in 2013, is thriving. We had a busy year, and we are well on track to continue our work with the USF community. Here’s a little bit about what we’ve been up to:
In the Fall, four students visited an Oakland high school where they led two day-long sessions teaching 17- and 18-year-olds how to know and exercise their rights when police attempt to speak to, detain, and arrest them, and answering a bunch of “hypothetical” or “I-have-a-friend-who” questions. It was the second year that USF NLG did this, and while the organizer, 3L Daniel Morrison, is graduating this May, we plan to continue this important work.
In October, the Law for the People National Convention brought a number of USF Guild students to Oakland for workshops, trainings, and, of course, networking. USF students attended several panels and discussions, including the Law Student Tuition Crisis, Marxism and the Law, and the Law Student Caucus where we made friendly connections with Guild members from around the nation.
During the Spring, USF NLG has hosted two workshops. The first, organized by 3L Erich Snow, was led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Director of Grassroots Activism and fellow Guild member Shahid Buttar. This training is called “Surveillance Self Defense,” and helps law students to understand just what threats to their information and operations they face. More importantly, this helps attendees to understand what threats their clients face and how to work under those threats. This was also the second year in a row the EFF has led these workshops at USF, and we hope to continue the tradition, especially as the government’s surveillance capabilities become more powerful, and we continue to represent clients that the US targets.
The second workshop was taught by USF alum and Guild member Brian McComas. Mr McComas gave our annual Legal Observer training for the second year in a row. Each year this training is very well-attended, and students both within and without the Guild attend.
USF NLG is preparing to host a Wage Theft Training, co-sponsored by the Labor and Employment Law Students’ Association, in order to empower people to protect themselves, their communities, and their fellow workers from bourgeois wage theft schemes that are unfortunately the reality for many wage earners.
Aside from trainings, workshops, and information sessions, USF NLG has worked hard to implement the Food Justice Guidelines. We provide vegan and vegetarian food at all events. We make sure that the food is bought from local businesses, and that the food is bought from places that aid or participate in the BDS movement. Sunrise Deli on Irving St receives USF NLG’s highest recommendations. Some USF NLG members have tried to change the narrative around substance abuse and self-medication that the legal community struggles with. We actively campaigned and worked with the Student Bar Association and the Office of the Dean to provide a 1-credit CLE presentation about the dangers of addiction and alcoholism. USF NLG has also put significant effort into empowering new 1Ls to be able to speak out against the narrative of “don’t ask, just learn.” We have individually encouraged students to speak out when they feel something is not right, or unjust. These students do not fear social repercussions of speaking out because they know they have a solid community of like-minded students and attorneys to support them.
USF NLG has continued to gather momentum and respect among the students, faculty, staff, and administration as a motivated and organized student group with strong ties to the legal community in the Bay Area.
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