Francesco Arreaga ’21

“I do pro bono work because we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place through the legal education we have received at Berkeley Law. As the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Responsibility explain, a lawyer has a special responsibility for the quality of justice and plays a vital role in the preservation of society. 

I came to law school knowing that I want to advance immigrant rights in our country. The pro bono experience that I will always remember is when I helped ACLU attorneys in Northern California working to liberate undocumented immigrants in ICE detention who were at risk of contracting COVID-19. Many incarcerated persons called in to describe unsanitary facilities, lack of hygiene products, and failures to adhere to safety measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19. This semester, I interned for Senator Richard Blumenthal’s staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I helped them prepare for an oversight hearing on the Bureau of Prisons. Through this, I saw how the inhumane conditions that incarcerated persons experienced in California were not isolated events; they were similar to those that incarcerated persons experienced at FCI Danbury, in Connecticut. I also had the opportunity to recommend legislation to provide justice to undocumented persons who were forcibly sterilized while in ICE detention. These pro bono and internship experiences have allowed me to assist people who are in need of a helping hand and solidified my commitment to work for systemic change in our country. 

The law is both a sword and a shield. It can be used for good, but it can also be used to do harm. Through pro bono work, we wield this sword and shield to protect and uplift communities that have historically been excluded or targeted by our legal system. Pro bono work is how we advance social, racial, and economic justice for all. The motto of the University of California is “Fiat Lux” – let there be light. National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, recently told our nation that “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.” Public service is the way in which we commit to being the light that shines hope, justice, and opportunity into our society. “

 


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