Erik Kundu ’19

Hometown: Lake Stevens, WA
Education: University of British Columbia 2016; 1L year at William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Affiliations: Articles and Essays Editor, California Law Review; Environmental Law Quarterly; Boalt Football Club

One of the reasons I initially decided to go to law school in Hawai’i was because of my interest in environmental law. Honestly, I had not really thought about transferring until after my first semester of 1L. When I started to look into the transfer process, I was very attracted to the courses and opportunities offered at Berkeley Law.

Berkeley’s admissions team was very helpful and informative during the transfer process. They answered my questions, provided resources, and helped make the transfer application process a breeze. The admissions team was also really great about providing information—before we even got here—about Early Interview Week and California Law Review’s Write-On Competition. For me, applying as a transfer student was not as daunting as applying to law school initially because I had already been through the application process once and had just survived my first year of law school.

It is part of the law school experience to form close relationships during first year, so at first I was pretty intimidated coming in not knowing anybody. But transfer students immediately have a network in each other and everyone else is very open and welcoming. I would say the best thing you can do as a transfer student is get involved. Join journals, clubs, and social organizations that align with your interests. I ended up joining the Boalt Football Club and felt like part of their community right away. It was nice because peers went out of their way to invite me to things because they knew I was a transfer student and did not know anyone.

As far as doctrinal knowledge, I believe 1L curriculum is pretty similar everywhere, so I did not feel like there was any gap for me, personally. But the caliber of discussion in some of the classes, and the viewpoints and backgrounds of some of the students, was immensely different than my 1L year. All of which has been beneficial to my legal education as a whole.

One thing that is a little challenging about being a transfer is the shortened time you are here. There are so many classes that I am interested in, and clinical work that I would like to do, that I do not think I will have time for. Even though there was a lot I wanted to take advantage of here on campus, this spring, I decided to accept a full-time externship with Judge Marsha Berzon ‘73 at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

It has been an immeasurable experience. I have been exposed to a broad variety of topic areas and directly involved with the creation of the law. I meet with the judge and clerks daily, so I have been able to get pointed insight into their decision making processes. The clerks were also recently in a similar spot that I am in now, so they have given me career advice and information about the clerkship application process. It is also a very exciting time to be working at the Ninth Circuit, with a lot of monumental cases coming across our desks.

One of my favorite things about my transferring experience has been the people that I have met. Getting involved with groups helps make connections and build a network that will support and give you advice, whether it be what classes to take, what professors to talk to, or anything else. The students here are some of the most intelligent people and successful people I have ever met. They will all go on to do great things and change the world in many different ways. Definitely take advantage of the great Berkeley Law community.

Boalt Football Club Wins Cal Intramural Finals

Boalt Football Club, left to right: bottom Alexis Romero (2L), Joe Craig (3L), Masato Tanaka (LLM), Daniel Myerson (2L); second row: Erik Kundu (2L), Javier Silva (1L), Labeat Rrahmani (2L), Jacob Gindt (2L), Mitchell Duncombe (3L), Jordan Mundell (LLM). Not pictured: Anas Ben Malek (LLM).
The Boat Football Club won the Cal intramural  6v6 Premier Soccer League on Tuesday, April 17, by a score of 2-1.

 

Captain Mitchell Duncombe ’18 scored in the 4th minute. The opposing team equalized in the 12th minute, and LLM Jordan Mundell scored the game winner in the 20th minute to give Boalt the title. It’s the first time in four years that Boalt has won an intramural soccer title. Mitchell Duncombe was named the game’s MVP.

 

The team dedicated their season and victory to the memory of former teamate and 3L Renato Puga Garcia, who passed away tragically in September 2017.

Three 1Ls Awarded Prestigious Peggy Browning Fellowships

The Peggy Browning Fund has awarded 10-week summer fellowships to 1Ls Alexia Diorio, Anika Holland, and Gillian Miller.

Peggy Browning Fellowships provide law students with unique, diverse, and challenging work experiences fighting for social and economic justice. These experiences encourage and inspire students to pursue careers in public interest labor law. Peggy Browning Fellows are distinguished students who have not only excelled in law school but who have also demonstrated their commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer, and personal experiences. Securing a Peggy Browning Fellowship is highly competitive, with over 400 applicants this year competing for the honor, so to have three among our first year class is a testament to their outstanding qualifications.

Alexia Diorio ’20 will be a fellow at Legal Aid at Work in San Francisco, CA. Before law school Alexia worked as an organizer for Working Washington, where she organized low-wage workers, especially baristas. Her work contributed to the enactment of the Secure Scheduling Ordinance in Seattle. She was also a member of her staff union bargaining team and labor management committee. Alexia studied economics and public health in college, and prior to her organizing work she worked as an assistant analyst in the Congressional Budget Office’s Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis division. During that time she also volunteered at the Employment Justice Center and became passionate about workers’ rights. Alexia plans to work in public interest law and hopes to continue to advocate for the rights of low-wage workers. Alexia is involved with the Employment and Labor Law Journal, and volunteers at a tenants’ rights clinic.

Anika Holland ’20 will be fellow at Feinberg Jackson Worthman & Wasow, LLP in Oakland, CA. Anika earned her A.B. in English from Ohio University, with a focus on feminist literary criticism and science fiction. She chose Berkeley Law because of its extensive public interest and social justice program. As a Berkeley Law student, she has participated in two student-lead pro bono projects: Name & Gender Change Workshop and the Survivor Advocacy Project. As a volunteer for the Name & Gender Change Workshop, she helps trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming clients obtain identity-affirming name and gender change court orders. Next year, she will co-lead the Survivor Advocacy Project, which facilitates access to legal and health services for survivors of sexual assault and assists with Title IX case research. Anika is a production editor for the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice and an executive editor for the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law. Her favorite things about living in the Bay Area are the friendly neighborhood cats and the wide array of local produce.

 Gillian Miller ’20 will be a fellow at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in Washington, DC. Prior to law school, Gillian worked at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where she organized programming for Council members around the world. Through planning these meetings, she became interested the impact that workers issues have on international and domestic policy, and vice versa. She is particularly interested in the intersections of workers’ rights, race, and gender. Gillian studied international relations with a concentration on gender and culture at the University of Southern California. At Berkeley Law, she participates in restorative justice circles at San Quentin and is a member of the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. She sings with the law school a cappella group, the Pro Bonotes, and next year will be on the boards of the Women of Berkeley Law and the Consumer Advocacy and Protection Society. Gillian chose Berkeley Law because of the strong community of students and faculty and its great clinical programs. She has loved her first year at Berkeley Law, especially because of the passionate and supportive community of students at the law school.

 

Josh Ephraim JD/MBA ’18

Hometown: Boston, MA
Education: UC Berkeley 2011
Affiliations: Dorm Room Fund Managing Partner, InSITE Fellows Founder, Haas Venture Fellow, Berkeley Startup Central Founder

I was thinking about law school as an undergrad. I wanted to make sure my decision to go to law school was thoughtful, so after I graduated from Berkeley, I moved to New York and took a position consulting for biotech companies. After that, I went to work at a startup accelerator focused on digital health. Through that experience I realized that for entrepreneurs, I could add more value if I went back to school.

When I got into Berkeley Law, I applied to Haas and was lucky enough to get in. After talking in depth with Adam Sterling and several other grads from the program, I decided to pursue the concurrent JD/MBA. Haas is unique among business schools because there is a large proportion of students going into tech and pursuing entrepreneurship, so it seemed like the perfect fit.

For someone who wants to be a corporate lawyer, especially for startup companies, you’re helping clients evaluate legal challenges within the broader context of the business. So having a better understanding of the business side of things and the decisions that the CEO of the company needs to make will lead to better legal advice. So I hope getting both degrees is valuable in this regard.

Berkeley also has a vibrant startup ecosystem on campus and a ton of opportunities for real-world experience. In my first year I started a Berkeley chapter of InSITE Fellows. It’s a national organization that does pro bono consulting for startups. We’ve put teams of law students and MBA students together to help entrepreneurs with pitch preps and anything an early stage startup might need.

Then in my second year I launched website called Berkeley Startup Central, which is a database of the enormous list of startups and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs across the Berkeley campus. I also joined the team at Dorm Room Fund, which is a student-run VC backed by First Round Capital, we invest in student run companies started by Berkeley undergrad and graduate students.

This year I participated in the new Blockchain, Cryptoeconomics, and the Future of Technology, Business and Law course. It’s really amazing that the law school, the business school, and the school of engineering could come together to teach a class on this hot topic so quickly. I’ve been writing about the classes on my blog and have been learning a lot.

I’ve had a lot of opportunities to contribute to the startup ecosystem here and I’ve learn so much. I’m a triple Bear now, so Ive been in Berkeley a long time and it’s going to be a little sad to move on. But I’m ready for the next phase. Thanks to some alums who are also JD/MBAs, I made some great connections and I’ll be joining Gunderson Dettmer in their startup and venture capital corporate practice in San Francisco. So I’ll be close enough stay involved in the startup world here at Berkeley.

Editor’s note: Josh is happy to connect with Cal students or grads starting their own companies. Connect with him on Twitter @JoshEphraim.

Big Year for Board of Advocates

The Jessup team (along with coach, JSP student Alvaro Pereira, bottom center) holding their winning plaques!

Submitted by Sarah Wright-Schreiberg, director of the Advocacy Competitions Program at Berkeley Law.

At the National Trial Competition regionals in Sacramento, Natalie Winters ’18Jordan Fraboni ’18, and Evan Larson ’20 scored in the top two teams overall, securing their spot in the national competition in Austin, Texas in April. Also, following the correction of a scoring error, Natalie Robinson ’18Dustin Vandenberg ’18, and Brandon Hughes ’19 will also advance to nationals. (Ed. note: only two teams from each region advance to Nationals, so Berkeley Law will fill both spots!)

At the The ABA Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) regionals, teammates Kelly Seranko ’19 and Drew Washington ’19 advanced to the final rounds and are headed to nationals in D.C. in April. Drew and Kelly were also recognized for their individual advocacy skills, respectively placing 6th and 10th overall in oral argument.

At the Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, our fabulous team (Candice Youngblood ’19Angela Lesnak ’19, and Jack Siddoway ’19) made it to the semifinals round at the national competition. Candice was also recognized for her advocacy skills, earning a Best Oralist nod.

At the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, our team (Griselda Cabrera ’18Michael Riggins ’18Nathalie Alegre ’19, and Madeleine Wykstra ’18) placed second at the Pacific Regional in Portland and will go on to rep Berkeley Law in the final/international rounds next month in D.C. Teammates Nathalie and Madeleine also placed in the top ten best oralists!

At the ABA Mediation Competition, teammates Anna Williams ’19 and Michelle Marshall ’18 advanced to the final rounds and took second place overall.

At the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition regionals, the hard work and preparation of Noro Mejlumyan ’18 and Tiana Baheri ’19 paid off, as the judges commended them for their poised and passionate advocacy. Thao Thai ’18 and Kelsey Schuetz ’19 also impressed the Lefkowitz judges with their skills—they placed first during oral arguments and won best brief. Thao and Kelsey went on to place second overall and win best brief at nationals in D.C.

Tt the International Academy of Dispute Resolution’s International Mediation Tournament, teammates Kate Bridge ’18, Colette Gulick ’18, and Paula Gergen ’19 took third place. Collette and Kate also earned individual recognition for their mediation skills, winning third and 10th place, respectively.

Of the Berkeley Law students who were recognized as individuals for their oral argument skills, all seven are women and three are women of color!

BOA and competitions are not all about winning, of course—but how wonderful for these teams and individuals to be recognized for their amazing work!

Tar Rakhra ’20

Hometown: Yorba Linda, CA
Education: Cal State Fullerton
Affiliations: Asian American Law Journal, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Berkeley Business Law Journal, student representative for the SF Asian American Bar Association

I always thought I’d come to law school and be involved in M&A and negotiations. I never thought I’d do something like representing the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) in the Boalt name debate.

But during undergrad, I got involved in advocacy at the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) under the Obama Administration. I was a youth engagement intern, so I worked on projects to empower, educate, and inform youth on all the ways they could get involved in their community and tackle certain issues we’re facing.

That’s one of the things that drew me to Berkeley, because we’re one of the few law schools that have a journal that focuses on AAPI rights. But it was also the place where I felt the most comfortable, in terms of the accepting environment.

So when I found out about John Boalt’s racism against Chinese Americans right after we got here as 1Ls it was a lot to process. I remember talking to my fellow AAPI classmates about it, applying textualism, religionism, and legal perspectives, and I think we really grew in the way we tackled this issue. I wish it didn’t have to happened but I’m grateful it happened.

For the town hall, I decided a video was the best way to humanize the debate. I asked for Chinese American students who felt connected or had strong feelings about the paper to bring a quote and sit down in front of a camera and read it. It was important for us to capture their voices and the pain these words cause them so that people who were arguing to keep the name could see how going to school in a building with this man’s name on it affects them.

Walking into the forum I was a little bit nervous. I knew older alums have very strong feelings about the Boalt name. But the way the panel handled it and the civil conversation between young and old alumni was really productive. I also thought it was great to do it in Booth Auditorium. It was as if everyone there was sharing the same home. I learned a lot about why some people strongly oppose changing the name. I understood their points and their beliefs. I may not agree with everything they said, but at least I got a wider exposure from my narrow view on it.

I think John Boalt should be preserved in this school like the way we preserve Earl Warren, who was also not without fault. We should recognize all the good John and Elizabeth Boalt did for us, because the endowment did give us the opportunity to build the school and become the place it is today. But Berkeley Law and the students here today represent new ideals that aren’t reflected by the name Boalt. Therefore, I think it should be changed to something that’s more fitting of our institution. We should also make sure people read that paper.

I’m not looking to erase history. I’m not looking to change the past. I’m looking to build a space for a better future. I think we have a really beautiful opportunity to redefine ourselves and set ourselves up for the next 100 years.

Watch the town hall and Tar’s video here.

Anna Lyons ’18

Hometown: Des Moines, IA
Education: Tufts University 2015
Affiliations: Board of Advocates, Berkeley Law Women’s Association, Queer Caucus, Berkeley Business Law Journal

Mock trial was a big reason why I came to law school. I started in junior high and continued all through college. At some point it seemed like I had been pretending to be a lawyer for so long, maybe I should try the real thing.

But after ten years of mock trial, I was ready for a change in law school. I chose moot court instead and now I’m one of the directors for our program at Berkeley Law. But I missed mock trial. Moot court involves briefing an issue on appeal and then delivering an oral argument and sparring with a panel of judges. Mock trial teams put on a whole trial, from opening statements through directing and crossing witnesses to closing arguments. Mock trial is much more of a show – it’s legal theatre.

When I learned about the Center for Youth Development through Law (CDYL) program it seemed like a great way to return to the activity and help underprivileged youth.

CYDL brings attorney coaches to six diverse and disadvantaged high schools in Contra Costa County to help these schools compete at the county competition.

I worked with a team of high-schoolers from Hercules High School. Our team brought together kids from all grade levels. Some had participated in mock trial before and others had never had any exposure to mock trial or the legal system in general.

The progress we made over the course of the season was phenomenal! Some students went from having no idea how a trial worked or what a direct examination was to arguing hearsay objections like pros. We worked on other skills they’ll be able to continue to develop after the mock trial season too. Things like public speaking, working as a team, and how to present yourself with confidence are not only foundational for mock trial but also important life skills.

It was also great to see our team bond and grow together as friends. Mock trial brought together kids that otherwise would’ve never crossed paths and gave them a common goal to work toward. Being accountable to each other kept everyone motivated and brought them closer as a team. I’m incredibly proud of our team’s performance and all of the hard work we put in over the course of the season. Even though many of these kids won’t go to law school or have any other involvement in a legal field, they’ll be able to carry these skills and friendships forward – the real reward of participating in mock trial.

Richard Treadwell ’18 & JoAnna Tonini ’18

Co-Editors-in-Chief, Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law

Richard: Work is so central to everyone’s life, it’s how we define ourselves. It’s closely tied to our identity, so it’s important to have advocates trying to make that sphere of life better.

JoAnna: Before starting law school I worked for the Department of Labor, so that was my introduction to employment law and I found it really compelling because it’s so relatable. Everyone either works or knows someone who works, and usually among them will be people who have experienced workplace issues, whether they be excessive hours or not getting paid on time.

What makes Berkeley Law so great is that it allows 1Ls to get involved right away in areas we are most interested in. So I joined the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law (BJELL) and the Workers Rights Clinic (SLPS) during my first year. Those two organizations really complement each other.

We’re super fortunate to have Professor Catherine Fisk as our faculty advisor. She has so much expertise and knowledge, and she knows so many incredible people in this field.

Richard: The BJELL community as a whole is amazing. We attract the best people who take the work seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Everyone wants to do more and help the organization grow and support each other. It’s really a privilege as co-editors-in-chief to enable their ideas.

JoAnna: And work law is a super exciting topic! The employment landscape is constantly changing. As technology evolves, that changes how the workplace operates, it changes how we do work. Uber and Lyft didn’t exist 10 years ago, and that has spurred all sorts of on-demand services like cleaning and errands services. People just work differently now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as many people enjoy that flexibility. But trying to fit these new roles into the current law can be a challenge.

Richard: I think that’s one of the coolest things about BJELL, we’re publishing articles on the forefront of what’s going on in labor and employment so that practitioners and judges can look to us as a resource for issues relating to, say, independent contractors, or other contemporary workplace issues that may not be clearly defined in the law. For example, in our next issue we are publishing a study on sexual harassment training in the workplace and whether they are effective. We also recently hosted a conference on age discrimination in partnership with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

JoAnna: I’m probably biased, but because work is so ubiquitous in our lives I really believe there are growing opportunities and career pathways in work law. Employment law is applicable to every industry no matter how small or large and it transcends socio-economic status as well. It affects literally all of us.

 

Wai Wai Nu LL.M. ’18 Receives HRC Award

Wai Wai Nu ’18 participates in a conversation with Sec. Clinton and fellow award recipient Nadia Murad at Georgetown University. Photo courtesy of Wai Wai Nu.

Wai Wai Nu, who will return to Berkeley this summer to complete her LL.M., was honored as one of the recipients of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security on Monday, February 5, 2018 at Georgetown University. Read more about the ceremony here.

A Rohingya human rights activist and former Burmese political prisoner, Wai Wai also recently participated in the Davos World Economic Forum and was named one of 2017’s Next Generation Leaders by TIME Magazine. Read more about her incredible accomplishments here.

Board of Advocates Trial Team Heads to Regionals

Dustin Vandenberg ’18, Natalie Robinson ’18, and Brandon Hughes ’19 are one of three Berkeley Law trial teams who will compete in the regional competition in Sacramento the weekend of February 10 for a chance to advance to the national competition for their second consecutive year as a team.

Dustin: Both these guys are the best trial advocates I’ve ever seen. It’s just great to get people who have different backgrounds, who did different roles in the past, and were taught mock trial in different ways. We each have very unique styles and I think they all work very well together. Now we’re in our second year of competitions together and we’re sort of like super team. It’s really exciting to work with both of them.

Natalie: The Berkeley Law trial competition program does an amazing job of creating opportunities for us to practice. Other students from the program prepare the case and we’ll actually run through the trial in what we call “scrimmages.” The students in the program are outstanding, so scrimmaging against our own teammates prepares us for some of the toughest competition.

Brandon: We have to be prepared to argue both sides. Dustin’s doing both openings, and Natalie and I are each closing one side. It’s always interesting competing against other schools because you don’t know their case theory until the trial starts. So, there’s a lot of thinking on your feet. But it helps to prep as much as you can.

Dustin: The time commitment can be large, especially when you’re first starting up. Learning all the rules of evidence, having to learn how to do trials—it’s not necessarily the most natural thing. But it’s definitely worth it. Personally, I think it’s better than any class I’ve taken, by a pretty wide margin.

Natalie: For students like us who are planning to become trial lawyers, there aren’t many opportunities outside of the competition program to actually practice trial skills. So being able to practice and get coached and get feedback throughout law school is going to be hugely beneficial to our careers. But it’s also fun, because it’s just a competition. It’s not real clients. So it’s lower stakes than it will be in the future.

Brandon: It’s so useful, even if you don’t intend to go into litigation. I joined the trial team just to get more comfortable with public speaking. It’s been really helpful in terms of learning how to communicate in an organized, persuasive manner. Making sure that your narrative and message translates. Those skills are useful anywhere.

Dustin: Doing trial competitions is also better than a job interview. If you want to impress someone, them seeing you perform in an actual trial like this is going to speak volumes for you if you want to go work in their D.A.’s office.

Brandon: In terms of making connections and getting top-notch instruction in the art of trial advocacy from practicing litigators, trial team is the best experience a law student can get.