Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s newest free legal clinic opened on Saturday, July 13, with a group of clients hoping to find a way to right wrongs relating to their employment.
The Employee Rights Self-Help Clinic provided 30-minute, one-time consultations to self-represented individuals with various labor and employment law problems, including issues related to wage and hour law, family or medical leave, discrimination and harassment.
Each client met with a TJSL alumni lawyer, who practices employment law and was paired with a TJSL student. The issues that the legal service consumers came to them with on the first day included discrimination, harassment, Workers Compensation and criminal record issues with regard to applying for a new position.
“Seeing the clinic launch was really exciting,” said Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp, co-coordinator of the Employee Rights Self-Help Clinic. “This clinic represents the best of TJSL. Like much of our cutting edge programming, it was created and is taking shape through a process of collaboration. My colleague, Professor Luz Herrera, had the vision for establishing the clinic. But the clinic itself conforms to the ideas and inspiration of the alumni attorneys, students and faculty who are pioneering the effort. It represents the entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes the culture at TJSL – a commitment to thinking out of the box, providing legal services to the community and giving students experience not only in real world legal counseling but also in what it takes to build a service-oriented practice. Along the way, we are all learning from one another.”
The students who are part of the clinic are really enthusiastic about the program’s first day.
“I signed up to help with the Employee Rights Self-Help Clinic because the practical experience that this clinic will provide is invaluable and labor law is an area of law that I'd like to pursue,” said Sam Kossack (2L).
Robie Ann Atienza (1L) decided to volunteer at the clinic to gain a hands-on legal experience as a 1L student. “I had a great time volunteering and now I am considering pursuing a career in the employment law,” she said. “I'm very thankful for this wonderful opportunity and I hope to gain more legal experiences in the near future."
“The Employee Rights Self-Help Clinic is such a vital tool for employees to be able to effectively represent themselves,” said Chelsea Grover (2L). “I am volunteering because I am very interested in employment law, and this clinic provides me with hands-on learning, as well as the opportunity to observe client counseling.”
“Even though I was more involved in the administrative side of the self-help clinic it is great to be able to help individuals navigate through the legal system to have access to justice if they have been wronged in their employment,” according to Karen Barragan (2L).
The TJSL alumni who are volunteering at the clinic are Hannah Bingham ‘10, Jennifer Trowbridge ‘11, Rory Pendergast ’09 and Christina Mills ’11.
The Employee Rights Self Help Clinic is by appointment only, and the next clinic will be held on August 10, at 495 11th Avenue, around the corner from TJSL’s main entrance at 1155 Island Avenue. The clinics are held every second Saturday of the month. To make an appointment, call (619) 961-4371.
Other clinics operated by TJSL include; the Small Business Law Center, the Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic, the Veterans Self-Help Clinic, the Art & Entertainment Law Project, the Community Economic Development Clinic, The Patent Clinic and Trademark Clinic and the VITA Tax Clinic.