Over the course of the summer, we will present some first-person accounts from Berkeley Law students immersed in fascinating work across the legal landscape. Much like the students themselves, the job opportunities and practical experiences they receive are diverse and extraordinary.
Billy Bradley ’24 is a first generation professional student who will have leadership positions at five Berkeley Law organizations or journals next school year. As student government president and vice president at Florida State University-Panama City, he helped negotiate a $23 million housing deal and helped lead the school’s response to a major hurricane that destroyed the city. Before law school, he worked to track COVID-19 in parts of Florida to update community leaders, and also assisted the county’s Supervisor of Elections Office in multiple roles.
Below, Bradley describes his current work as a Rural Summer Legal Corps intern with Legal Services Alabama:
The first year of law school is both intellectually stimulating and intimidating. Growing up in a poor rural community near the border of Florida and Alabama, law school felt like an unattainable dream for so much of my life. Although I wasn’t sure how the job process — or even the law school process — worked, I knew I wanted to give back to my community during my 1L summer.
During my childhood, my mother suffered a series of strokes rendering her with a disability, and my entire community really stepped up. My grandparents took us in, my church gave us fellowship and financial help, my high school teachers spent countless hours going over my college applications alongside me, and my friends got together with me every weekend to fill out scholarship applications. It’s the small things.
Going into college — and later, law school — I remembered the charity given so freely by others. Every obstacle I overcame was as a direct result of the overwhelming support I received from others. I applied to be the Rural Summer Legal Corps intern with Legal Services Alabama so I could give back to those communities that so freely gave to me.
My summer at Legal Services Alabama has been incredible! Our services are varied, and our client base is diverse — racially, ethnically, religiously, and geographically. I’ve been able to meet so many interesting people and research several substantive topics across the civil law sphere.
The content of my work is varied, but immensely rewarding. One of my main responsibilities is to research statutes and case law pertaining to issues primarily affecting people in poverty, like payday loans. After taking notes and forwarding them to the attorneys, I create scripts for our “Ask AL” video series, explaining nuanced legal concepts to Alabama residents in an understandable way.
Additionally, I created a Google My Map and spreadsheet identifying the demographics of each county in order to identify areas most in need. We can cross-reference with our actual client database to ensure we are fairly representing all Alabamians.
I’ve also identified current and potential community partners, so we can have partners in all geographic areas of the state. Coming from a poor rural community, I understand that it’s sometimes just not possible to expect people to drive to the nearest large town — and not everyone has the access to technology that would allow for remote assistance.
Another aspect of my work has involved attending expungement clinics, where we help people who otherwise couldn’t afford to have their records expunged receive a second chance. We recently went to Selma Pride to help transgender Alabamians change their birth name.
It’s deeply rewarding to be able to work directly with people in rural communities throughout Alabama and hear their stories. Seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces after they receive our help is a breathtakingly beautiful sight.
These experiences have been deeply enriching and rewarding. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others in the same difficult situations I saw growing up. Having access to an attorney that they otherwise would not have been able to afford makes a huge difference in peoples’ lives. I really feel like I’m making the world a better place here.