By Amy Utstein The International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) recently announced the recipients of its 2015 Alumni Summer Fellowship: Bina Patel ’16 and Evelyn Rangel-Medina ’16. The two students will work on core clinic issues, advocating for the rights of immigrants and restaurant workers. Each will receive a $5,000 stipend for their summer work. Patel will join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project. She will develop strategic impact litigation, provide legal analysis on constitutional, civil rights and civil liberties issues, and engage in public education issues that impact marginalized communities in the U.S. Patel spent her first semester with IHRLC working on a report to the United Nations on the medico-legal definition of torture. She focused on the need for redress for former Guantanamo detainees who were victims of torture under the articles of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In her second semester, Patel drafted a report analyzing four case studies of sexual violence in armed conflict regions in India. Patel is eager to apply similar international human rights law standards to domestic human rights issues within the U.S. “I appreciate the influence that civil society organizations, like the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, can have holding the U.S. government accountable to both U.S. law and international human rights law,” Patel said. Rangel-Medina will complete her summer fellowship at Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. ROC United is a national organizing and policy advocacy organization that uses a tri-pronged model of change to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workers. The nonprofit runs localized workplace justice campaigns, collaborates with responsible employers to transform the industry, and conducts research and policy advocacy to improve industry-wide working standards.
Rangel-Medina chose ROC United for her fellowship after researching the exploitative working conditions tipped workers face in the United States while at IHRLC. Evelyn will conduct legal research, write policy reports, and help ROC United organize workers. “This fellowship will allow me to interconnect my legal education with my advocacy experience to help eliminate the federal subminimum wage ($2.13/hour) and advance a living wage for all workers,” she said. Patel and Rangel-Medina were chosen for the fellowship by a committee of IHRLC faculty and alumni. Launched by a $10,000 anchor gift from former clinic student Kathleen Janus ’03 and her husband, Ted Janus, the fellowship provides invaluable training for select Berkeley Law students the summer after their second year. “It has been so inspiring to see our IHRLC alumni come together to support the next generation of human rights lawyers,” said Kathleen Janus, Fellowship Committee co-chair. “For those of us already practicing, we know from personal experience just how hard it can be to break into the profession. We are grateful to be able to provide some support to help make that transition, so that those who want to become human rights lawyers have the resources to do so. The future of human rights lawyering is bright!” Since the inception of the fellowship in 2013, over 50 IHRLC alumni have donated to its coffers. “We’ve had an outpouring of support from IHRLC alumni,” said Catha Worthman ’03 who co-chairs the Fellowship Committee. “Everyone wants to give back to IHRLC, as the clinic provided so much to us in training and the opportunity to engage in meaningful human rights advocacy.”