Hometown: Northeast Philadelphia / Abington, PA
Undergraduate School: University of Scranton
Job: Associate at Saul Ewing
I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Sheller Center for Social Justice Clinic at Temple, and continued working at the Sheller Center for two more semesters. Working at the Sheller Center and with Professor Jen Lee has probably been the most formative experience I’ve had at Temple as a future lawyer, and more importantly, as an advocate, a justice-seeker, and a person. In collaboration with organizers and worker-leaders in the immigrant day laborer community, we designed and implemented a wage theft clinic, as well as educational prevention workshops intended to combat some of the exploitation the workers constantly face. I learned that there is a pretty substantial gap between what is legal and what is just. There were many times when workers suffered injustices, and there was no legal remedy available. This reinforced my belief that effective social justice lawyering demands community collaboration, the accompaniment and empowerment of vulnerable individuals, and a real culture of solidarity.
I also had the amazing opportunity to participate in both the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Clinic and the Philadelphia Defender’s Association Clinic during my third year. I very much value the capacity it gave me to see both sides of an argument and the skill to meet people where they are. The opportunity I had at Temple to participate in these clinics back to back gave me valuable insight into the criminal justice system, the dedication and passion of both prosecutors and defenders, and perhaps most importantly, the injustices inherent in the system. I am entirely confident that the substantive knowledge, courtroom skills, and larger life lessons learned during these clinical courses will remain with me throughout my legal career. I feel more confident as a future attorney and advocate, and now have a profound respect for the privilege and more importantly, the responsibility that attorneys have in the pursuit of justice.
The most meaningful volunteer opportunity I’ve had at Temple was over Spring Break of my third year, when I organized a pro-bono project at the Berks County Detention Center. This Center houses migrant families – women and children who have been detained. Together with several other Temple Law student volunteers, I traveled to Berks where we met with the women and children inside the Detention Center and then worked with several immigration lawyers (one who is a Temple alum!) to draft Habeas petitions on behalf of the detainees. The situation at Berks – the detention of migrant families – is utterly appalling. Children do not belong in detention. Many of the women told heartbreaking stories of abuse, violence, and persecution in their home countries, and I found myself grateful to have chosen law school – and Temple Law in particular – because of the opportunity it has given me to become a powerful advocate for them.
Several of us returned to the Berks facility later in the semester for a protest. ICE officials patrolled the space between the detainees and us while we shouted, sang, and waved, letting the women know that they were not alone, and that we were advocating on their behalf. The women waved back. The space between us was a glaring reminder of the injustice that separates us. It was pretty powerful stuff.
I’m also grateful for valuable volunteer experiences with an immigration clinic in south Philadelphia during my first and second years and the Homeless Advocacy Project during my second year. Both allowed me to use my legal skills to serve individuals and communities who have been marginalized in society – the exact reason I decided to go to law school, and to Temple in particular.
Favorite Faculty Member
Tie: Professors Jen Lee and Jaya Ramji-Nogales. For similar reasons, I have the utmost and eternal respect for both of these women as scholars, advocates, and educators. Both challenged and encouraged me throughout my time working with them whether in a clinical setting, as a TA, or even in more informal conversations out to lunch. Frankly, I cannot imagine law school without their mentorship, guidance, and support. I am eternally grateful for both of them.
Making an Impact
I will be launching my legal career with the Litigation Group at Saul Ewing. This type of legal job was not what I envisioned when I came to law school. In fact, I had never even heard of this type of legal setting, but I am always willing to embrace an opportunity with the potential to broaden my experiences, knowledge, and skills. I hope to always use my Temple Law degree as a tool to best meet the needs of the world. I am very passionate about working for human rights and social justice, and I hope that I have the opportunity in my career to do exactly that. I am extremely excited for all that life as a lawyer may hold. Temple Law has equipped and encouraged me to continue working as an advocate for social justice, and my hope is that I am constantly using my gifts, legal knowledge, and resources to meet the needs of the communities I serve. Temple Law has made a lot of that possible.
Advice for Future Owls
If I could go back to my first year, I would have thought seriously about applying for the DC Law & Public Policy program, which begins in the summer between students’ first and second years. That said, the experience I did have was pretty amazing: I spent my summer studying International Human Rights Law at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in San Jose, Costa Rica. I lived with a Costa Rican family while studying at the IACHR, observing human rights cases in action, visiting workers on pineapple plantations to learn about their labor organizing efforts, and visiting indigenous communities to learn about their constant struggle for the recognition of their land and human rights. It was an unbelievable opportunity. Thus, my advice would be to never settle. If you have a passion and you want to do something about it in your time at Temple, you will find the support here to make it possible.