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Two Students Selected as 2011 Peggy Browning Fellows

August 2, 2011

Peggy Browning Fellows

Third-year student Melissa Lewis and second-year student Rane Casalegno have been selected to represent Thomas Jefferson School of Law at the 13th Annual National Law Students Workers’ Rights Conference sponsored by The Peggy Browning Fund. The conference is scheduled to take place on October 14-15, 2011 at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

The Peggy Browning Fund is a nonprofit organization named after Margaret (Peggy) Browning, a prominent labor attorney and member of the National Labor Relations Board.  The Peggy Browning Fund Committee at TJSL, which made the student selections, included Professors Susan Bisom-Rapp and Rebecca Lee, faculty members who teach labor and employment law courses.

“Among the criteria we used to choose this year’s student participants is a strong commitment to advocating on behalf of workers,” said Professor Bisom-Rapp, who regularly speaks and publishes on employee rights issues.  “Melissa and Rane, in addition to having backgrounds and experiences in workplace law, evidenced in their applications a passion for this work that is key to succeeding in the field.  We are very proud to be sending two such accomplished students to the conference.“

The prestigious conference is designed to expose law students to challenging opportunities in workers’ rights, as well as the many rewards of representing unions and individual employees with their legal needs. The selected students will have the opportunity to attend several workshops and be addressed by the keynote speaker, Liz Schuler, who is the first woman ever elected Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

“In selecting the Peggy Browning Fellows for this year’s conference, it was wonderful to see the dedication to workers’ rights that both Melissa Lewis and Rane Casalegno clearly demonstrated in their applications,” said Professor Lee.  “We are pleased to be able to give them this opportunity to be part of a national event and engage in dialogue with others who share their deep interest in supporting the welfare of workers.”

“Attending the Peggy Browning Fund’s National Law Students Workers’ Rights Conference can be a career altering experience,” adds Professor Bisom-Rapp. “ The Conference has a strong educational component.  Law students will choose two workshops covering a broad range of cutting edge topics, including: Basic Labor Law, Public Sector Labor Law, The Rewards of Labor Law Practice, The Continuing Relevance of the NLRB, Sports Law, Immigrants’ Rights, Organizing Workers Not Covered by Labor Law, and International Trade and Workers’ Rights.  There will also be a briefing on Labor Law and Policy delivered by Congressional staff.”

“As important as the educational element, however, is the opportunity for networking with labor lawyers, professors, government officials, and other top law students committed to careers in workers’ rights.”

Both Lewis and Casalegno, who exemplify a deep commitment to public interest law and economic justice, are currently legal interns at the Employee Rights Center, where they advocate for employees in administrative proceedings before the California Labor Commissioner and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Lewis is a distinguished honor roll student and author of “Restoring Workplace Privacy in California,” which was published in the Thomas Jefferson Law Review.  Casalegno is a member of the Public Interest Law Foundation at TJSL and has strong family ties to unions and the labor movement.

For more information about The Peggy Browning Fund, visit or contact the Career Services office.

Congratulations to our 2011 Peggy Browning Fellows!