Friday, June 28, 2019

#179 / The Mercury News Gives Career Advice

I teach students at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who are majoring in Legal Studies. The Legal Studies Program is not, specifically, a "pre-law" program. Students who do not necessarily want to be lawyers are encouraged to major in Legal Studies, in order to gain a broad and interdisciplinary understanding of our political/legal system. 

Click this link to learn more about the Legal Studies Program. The University Registrar also has a website that lists all the formal requirements, for anyone who might be thinking, more seriously, about majoring in Legal Studies at UCSC. 

While Legal Studies is not, specifically, a "pre-law" program, the Legal Studies major does attract many students who are thinking about law as a career. There is a popular notion that law, as a profession, is mainly the province of those who want to serve corporate interests and/or the interests of those who have lots of money. Typical hourly rates for attorneys do pretty much guarantee that you'll need to have a substantial amount of cash in hand if you want to get an attorney working for you. 

However, most of the students in the classes I teach are NOT looking to make lots of money as their major goal in life (though some do have this objective in mind). Most of the students I run into, in the Legal Studies Program, are interested in using the law as a route to a career focused on social and economic justice. Thus, I was happy to read an article in the May 25, 2019, edition of The Mercury News that provided some pretty good career advice for Legal Studies students in this last category.

Jessica Stender, pictured, is a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Equal Right Advocates, a nonprofit organization that works for women's rights. Here is something she says in the article: 

Q. Tell us about your background — how did you get into law?
A. I come from a family of civil rights attorneys and other types of advocates. I’ve grown up understanding that the law ought to be used as a tool to achieve a measure of social justice and reform –. I saw what could be done with the law for workers and other people. When I was in college, I volunteered at Friends of Farmworkers in Pennsylvania, which had provided legal representation for mushroom workers in an eight-year battle for them to become a union. I worked there as a paralegal, and that inspired me to go to law school.

I want to endorse what this article in The Mercury says. 

Earthjustice, a legal nonprofit that works for the environment, employs this slogan: "the Earth needs a good lawyer." Others who need a good lawyer include workers, women, political radicals, dissidents, lower income people, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and those who are living on the margins of this society. 

Jessica Stender and The Mercury have some good career advice!

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