KATHRYN SELIGMAN ’81 & MATTHEW BEDRICK ’19
Kathryn Seligman was raised by politically active parents who nurtured her lifelong commitment to work for social justice and against systematic discrimination—values she passed on to her son, Matthew Bedrick.
When Seligman entered Berkeley Law in 1978, she was “laser-focused” on “working in a federally funded legal services office representing the poor.” Although she achieved that goal, President Reagan slashed the legal services budget in the early ’80s, so Seligman became a lecturer at Berkeley Law in 1985. Aware of the local community’s pressing needs, she worked with interested students to establish an in-house legal aid clinic for poor people.
Seligman self-funded a trip to Harvard Law to study the practices of its on-campus legal services clinic. Returning to Berkeley Law, she and the students presented their plan. The law school administration opposed hosting or funding a law school-based legal aid clinic but was willing to allow students to earn credit at an-off campus clinic.
Seligman and the students founded the Berkeley Community Law Center in 1988. Berkeley Law required an on-campus class for students working at the clinic; Seligman and Stephen Rosenbaum ’80 initially taught that course in poverty law practice.
A few years later, Berkeley Law started funding the successful clinic. Now known as the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), it has become Alameda County’s largest provider of legal services to low-income people.
Seligman, who served on the board until 1998 and remains a staunch supporter, went on to represent indigent criminal defendants for 30 years. She calls co-founding EBCLC her “proudest professional achievement.”
Thirty-five years after Seligman’s graduation, Bedrick entered Berkeley Law with the goal of becoming a youth and education lawyer. He worked at EBCLC for one summer and two semesters, and “developed important legal skills through hands-on experience” in the clinic’s Education Advocacy, Youth Defender, and Immigration units.
“Knowing how hard my mom worked to make EBCLC a reality, I feel extremely proud and grateful every time I walk into those offices,” Bedrick says. “I hope I can carry forward her legacy as I begin my career as a public interest lawyer working for social justice.”
A recipient of a two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Bedrick says his subsequent project at the National Center for Youth Law “will ensure that immigrant children in federal detention receive the educational services to which they are entitled.”