By Rosanna Barajas (3L)
On October 25-26, 2013, Michael Arellanez (2L) and I had the absolute pleasure of representing Thomas Jefferson School of Law at The Peggy Browning Fund’s Fifteenth Annual National Law Students Workers’ Rights Conference just outside Baltimore, MD. Also in attendance from TJSL was Ian Seruelo (2L), a Peggy Browning Fellow. The conference brought together students from law schools across the country and other individuals with a strong commitment to public interest law and the labor movement.
On Friday evening, the conference kicked off with the showing of the film Trash Dance. The film was followed by an interactive discussion about the humanity of workers, the dignity of work and implications for workers’ rights advocates.
Saturday consisted of workshops led by prominent labor lawyers, law professors and organizers on a variety of workers’ rights issues. I attended the Rewards of Labor Law Practice, and Sports and Labor Law workshops. David Prouty, General Counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association, was one of the leaders of both workshops. In Rewards of Labor Law Practice, Mr. Prouty provided practical advice on how to break into this field and explored the pros and cons of union, government, and plaintiff-side work. Later in the evening, Joe Briggs, Public Policy Counsel of the National Football League Players Association, and Sean Brandveen, Counsel to the National Basketball Players Association, joined Mr. Prouty in guiding the Sports and Labor Law discussion. The labor lawyers discussed their positions, how they got there, and some of the issues they deal with as lawyers for sports unions, such as grievances, arbitrations, drug testing and intellectual property.
The workers’ rights conference provided the participants with an unmatched training and networking opportunity in labor law. It was a great privilege to spend a weekend with socially conscious individuals who share my passion to empower and improve the lives of people - in this case, the working people. The workshops were very interactive and provided ample time for questions and answers, my favorite part! I strongly encourage students with an interest in the labor movement to attend next year’s conference, if the opportunity is presented. Thank you Peggy Browning Fund, and Professors Susan Bisom-Rapp and Rebecca Lee for this wonderful opportunity.
According to the official website, “The Peggy Browning Fund is a nonprofit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, prominent labor attorney and member of the National Labor Relations Board. The mission of the Peggy Browning Fund is to educate and inspire the next generation of law students to become advocates for workplace justice.”