Herma Hill Kay Fellowship

2011-2012 Newsletter
In 2011, the Boalt Hall Women’s Association recognized nine outstanding students who dedicated their summer to furthering women’s empowerment and equality as Herma Hill Kay Fellows. Their outstanding experiences, detailed below, were only made possible by contributions from our esteemed donors supporting the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship. This newsletter is our way of showing what strong student initiative and modest donations are able to accomplish..

The Boalt Hall Women’s Association created the HHK Fellowship in 1999 to recognize Herma Hill Kay’s impressive legacy in the area of women’s rights and to honor her deanship. For over ten years, it has been used to encourage and support public interest work benefiting women. The HHK Fellowship is available to fund a wide range of legal work, from impact litigation aimed at eradicating discriminatory policies to direct services for underrepresented and disenfranchised women. The HHK Fellowship also offers students the flexibility to use their creative talents and initiative to develop original projects, such as establishing a legal clinic at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence or publishing literature to educate immigrant women on their employment rights.

All contributions to the HHK Fellowship can be made payable to The Herma Hill Kay Summer Fellowship Fund and directed to the Alumni Center at . Donations are of course tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt by mail in recognition of your donation. Should you choose to donate we would also love to invite you to join the Boalt Hall Women’s Association and Professor Kay at the HHK Fellows Reception, which will be held in mid-April, where we will honor the 2012 HHK Fellows.

We appreciate your support of the Boalt Hall Women’s Association and hope that you will be able to contribute to the 2012 HHK Fellowship. For further information regarding the HHK Fellowship, please do not hesitate to contact us at eeverett@berkeley.edu and jsowards@berkeley.edu.


Erin Everett and Jill Sowards Herma Hill Kay Fellowship Co-Chairs Boalt Hall Women's Association

Erin Everett, J.D. Candidate 2013

Bay Area Legal Aid

Thanks to the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship I was able to spend my summer working with the Housing Unit at Bay Area Legal Aid in Richmond. During my time at Bay Legal I assisted low income clients who were fighting unlawful detainers, many of whom faced the risk of losing their public housing and Section 8 Vouchers, and therefore faced homelessness.

My passion is working with people who have experienced domestic violence and many of Bay Legal's clients are survivors. One of my clients in particular stands out in my mind. This woman came to the office because the Housing Authority was trying to evict her under the One Strike Rule due to alleged criminal conduct. Our client called the police when her abuser, who she had a restraining order against, came to her house, uninvited and became aggressive. He fled, but once the police found him they arrested him because of his behavior at our client's home. A few months later, she received an eviction notice because of “criminal activity” at her home—referring to this incident. She came to Bay Legal with this notice and I drafted a letter to the Housing Authority informing them that that the notice was in direct violation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which protects victims of domestic violence against eviction in this type of situation. I recommended that they dismiss the charges and by the end of the day the eviction had been dropped.

I am grateful to the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship for helping me spend a summer doing work that reaffirmed my desire to help low-income women assert their legal rights.

Adam Ferrari, J.D. Candidate 2012

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Domestic Violence Division

The Herma Hill Kay Fellowship allowed me to spend my summer working with my mentor Paula Wood to help give a voice to sufferers of domestic violence. During the first half of the summer, I worked directly with Ms. Wood in a variety of DV cases, such as divorces, protective order hearings, and custody determinations. Drawing on research and planning we had done the previous summer, we altered our intake, interviewing, representation, and referral services to help our clients feel comfortable, respected, heard, and in control of their own cases. This process involved restructuring everything from the room where we meet our clients (round table, reduced professional trappings) to our questioning style in court (controversially, we ask some open-ended questions and let our clients retell their stories in their own words), to the social services we work to link them with (more income support). We educated the other family law attorneys in these more client-centered practices, an effort which encountered some resistance but which ultimately resulted in about half the staff attorneys adopting at least some of our recommended practices. Overall, Ms. Wood and I served about forty clients, including at least twenty protective order hearings. Most of these cases were successful both legally and in terms of client experience.

After Ms. Wood suffered injuries in a car accident and was unable to work for much of July, I was assigned to more general research tasks and a few cases in Legal Aid’s HIV division. These tasks were rewarding and successful in their own ways, but I was determined to continue the client-empowerment work Ms. Wood and I had started in the DV division. Fortunately, I was able to find two other supervising attorneys who would assign me DV cases and allow me to implement client-empowerment practices.

This summer, just as during my previous summer in the DV division, I was permanently affected by my clients’ stories. Each is so different, but most involve a rare combination of courage and care in the face of danger. I hope that during my wonderful two years at Legal Aid, Ms. Wood and I were able to show dozens of decisionmakers, court officials, attorneys, and litigants a glimpse of the cruel, brutal realities domestic violence sufferers face—and of the uncommon strength one must show to survive such a nightmare.

Without the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship, I would not have been able to afford to do unpaid legal work over the summer. I will be grateful for the rest of my life that the Fellowship gave me a chance to put into practice the client-centered ideas Ms. Wood and I had developed last year.

Arusha Gordon, J.D. Candidate 2013

Special Litigation Unit, New York Legal Assistance Group

Thanks to the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship I was able to gain experience using class actions as a tool to systematically promote civil rights this past summer. I spent my summer working at the Special Litigation Unit (SLU) of the New York Legal Assistance Group. SLU serves as a watchdog that monitors the delivery of government benefits and services, as well as the changes in basic entitlements. When systemic problems become evident, SLU initiates a class action on behalf of groups of individuals who experience a problem representative of a broad failure in the system.

Amongst other things, while at SLU I helped on a class action to help protect the rights of elderly New Yorkers’ right to government-funded home care. The class action was filed just a few weeks before I arrived in New York, and during the first two weeks of my internship our phones rang non-stop with hundreds of New Yorkers calling to join the suit. I was able to assist with both the cases for individual clients who were parties to the class action and the overarching legal strategy for the case. By far the most rewarding part of the summer was successfully getting a clients’ health care reinstated, after health care companies illegally attempted to cut their services without any warning. While at SLU, I was attended negotiations on settlement agreements, assisted with administrative fair hearings, and helped draft a portion of a brief for the Second Circuit. It was an incredible summer. Thank you!

Rachel Johnson-Farias, J.D. Candidate 2012

American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California

My 2L summer working at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) was extremely rewarding. In addition to enhancing my legal research and writing skills, I had the opportunity to analyze exciting and complex constitutional issues. The ACLU is constantly creating innovative ways to protect our civil liberties. Working at the ACLU affirmed my commitment to using the law as a tool to empower those who are underappreciated and overlooked. The Herma Hill Kay Fellowship supported my summer and helped to shape my career as a public interest lawyer. I am grateful for the opportunity and the woman whose legal work and scholarship continues to inspire me, Ms. Herma Hill Kay.

Molly Leiwant, J.D. Candidate 2013

American Civil Liberties Union, Reproductive Freedom Project

This summer, the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship supported my work at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project in New York. RFP works on litigation, advocacy, and public education in order to ensure that the government respects and supports reproductive freedom. The Project works to ensure that women in the U.S. have timely access to abortion care as well as on a wide range of issues that have a direct impact on reproductive decisions including: access to safe and affordable contraception; supporting age appropriate sex ed programming and fighting pregnancy discrimination.

I spent the majority of my summer working on pre-litigation research for constitutional challenges to state laws passed in the Legislatures in the first half of 2011. I researched the severability of a law aimed at de-funding Planned Parenthood in Arizona by not allowing it to participate in a tax credit donation program offered by the state. I drafted open records requests to find out information about abortion insurance rider availability and cost in preparation for a challenge banning insurance coverage for abortions on and off the exchange. I also had the opportunity to attend a hearing on a New York City law banning aspects of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and to meet with an expert witness and help prepare his expert report for ongoing litigation regarding an abortion parental notification law in Alaska. The Fellowship helped make it possible for me work combating laws that limit people's reproductive freedom.

Alison Mollman, J.D. Candidate 2012

Habeas Project

Thanks in large part to the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship, I was able to work at the California Habeas Project over the summer. The California Habeas Project is a collaboration that enhances justice for domestic violence survivors incarcerated for crimes related to their experiences of being abused. In particular, I did amicus curiae work for a habeas petition filed on behalf of a woman who is seeking relief from the California Supreme Court. I also had the opportunity to do work with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), the organization that houses the California Habeas Project. It was an honor to interview elder prisoners at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla in order to assess how LSPC can support the needs of elder prisoners in the future. I am dedicated to indigent defense work and I thoroughly enjoyed my summer spent at the California Habeas Project. The Herma Hill Kay Fellowship made it possible for me to pursue the work that I am passionate about.

Cora Rose, J.D. Candidate 2012

Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center

The Herma Hill Kay Fellowship permitted me to serve as a law clerk during the summer of 2011, under the supervision of the wonderful attorneys in the Gender Equity Project at the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center.

The Project’s mission is to advocate for and with working women through legal advice and representation without regard of ability to pay, the creation of self-help and know-your-rights tools, undertaking targeted litigation, and advocating for employment legislation with a positive effect on the working lives of people with families.

The focus of my summer was a federal district court jury trial that we tried in the Eastern District of California in July. The case involved workers’ family and medical leave rights under both federal and state statutes, and the attorney team had been litigating the case with their law clerks for a number of years. It was my good fortune that the jury trial coincided with my law clerk summer. In preparation of trial, I researched and drafted memos and motions for my supervising attorneys regarding applicable procedural and substantive law under both our federal and state causes of action, met with our plaintiff, and participated in planning meetings. I observed the two-week trial, and continued to research and draft memos and motions, participate in strategy meetings and each evening’s preparation for the next day of trial. Additionally, I reviewed transcript dailies, met with our jury expert, interacted with our expert and other witnesses, and was involved in the preparation of jury instructions. The jury trial provided me invaluable experience in the lawyering skills needed at the trial phase of litigation that a law student just cannot really learn from a textbook.

The family leave case, however consuming, was just one aspect of my summer work. In addition, I staffed two helplines for workers with family and medical leave and pregnancy discrimination questions, and another for workers who had experienced sexual harassment and assault on the job. Once a week, I worked at an evening clinic for low-income workers with any legal employment situation, such as gender, sexual orientation, religion, and race discrimination; equal pay violations; workplace safety and sexual harassment; and pregnancy and family leave issues; and unemployment insurance appeals.

Without the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship, I would not have had this wonderful opportunity to participate in litigation seeking to vindicate a women-friendly employment right, be mentored by the wonderful staff attorneys in the Gender Equity Project, or learn substantive California and federal law and regulations relating to women, in the crucible of direct services, litigation, and education and advocacy. The summer was a valuable part of my education in the challenges and strategies of creating a just society and healthier communities through women’s empowerment and equality, and confirmed my desire to become a public interest litigator for the cause of women and girls’ dignity, equality, and opportunity.

I am grateful for the way the Fellowship provided me such a meaningful opportunity to work and learn in the field I hope to enter, and thank you for it.

Emily Stabile, J.D. Candidate 2013

City and County of San Francisco Human Rights Commission

Thanks to the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship, I was able to spend my summer as an intern at the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The HRC is the city agency that enforces San Francisco’s antidiscrimination ordinances through the filing of complaints, facilitating mediation between parties, and investigating allegations of discrimination. The HRC also does a significant amount of work promulgating and implementing a broad array of human rights related policy in San Francisco. Many of the HRC’s complainants come from marginalized communities including the LGBTQ community, communities of color, immigrant communities, homeless and low-income individuals, and disabled individuals. My internship was within the LGBTQ component of the HRC, and while the complainants I served were all of LGBTQ identity, they were often part of one or more other marginalized communities as well.

Through my internship with the HRC, I was able to contribute to the protection of women through both direct service to complainants and policy work. Two of the complainants I assisted over the summer were trans women. Both were women of color and both had been homeless for extended periods. They were both experiencing discrimination, one in her job situation and the other in her living situation. In both cases, the discrimination had been ongoing for years. At the heart of the discriminatory behavior in these two cases was the respondent’s belief that trans women were not “real women,” and shouldn’t be subject to the same policies and treatment as other biological women in their work and living situations. Through the HRC, these women were able to file complaints and make use of the strong antidiscrimination ordinances in San Francisco. In one case, I was able to write a settlement agreement between the complainant and her housing provider to ensure that she would be treated with dignity and her gender identity affirmed. In addition to this direct service work helping trans women overcome the prevalent discrimination against them, I performed research on ways to expand legal protections for nontraditional families in San Francisco. Recognizing kinship relationships would provide increased legal protection for emancipated foster youth, gays and lesbians who have no relationship with their biological families, disabled communities, and AIDS/HIV patients by allowing people to form legal “families” with whomever they chose. I organized a coalition meeting between many diverse groups in San Francisco to begin implementing these expanded protections. Lastly, I researched the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) policy of performing secondary searches on all passengers wearing head coverings, a policy that disproportionately affects Muslim women. After investigating the TSA’s complaint process, I provided suggestions that San Francisco could implement to make redress for these intrusive searches more accessible to passengers.

My summer at the HRC was both educational and inspirational. I continue to learn about the legal challenges that women and girls face, and I came away from my internship even more committed to a pursuing a career challenging discrimination against women and other marginalized groups.

Sonja Tonnesen, J.D. Candidate 2013

East Bay Children's Law Offices

This past summer, I represented and counseled children as a law clerk at East Bay Children's Law Offices (EBCLO). EBCLO is headquartered in Oakland, California, and provides free legal representation to children and youth who are the subject of abuse and neglect proceedings in Alameda County Juvenile Dependency Court. My work included client and family interviews, courtroom observation and advocacy, as well as legal research and writing. I focused not only on representing youth in Dependency Court, but also on educational representation of foster youth. I am incredibly grateful for this experience; not only did I work with fantastic supervising attorneys, but I also had the privilege of mentoring youth in my community through difficult life events and decisions. My work would not have been possible without the generous support of the Herma Hill Kay summer fellowship.

Eve Weissman, J.D. Candidate 2013

S.F. Regional Solicitor’s Office, Earl Warren Institute for Law and Policy

With the generous support of the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship, I was able to spend the summer of 2011 working at the San Francisco Regional Solicitor's Office of the United States Department of Labor and at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute for Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

I spent the first half of my summer at the Solicitor's Office, which represents the Secretary of Labor in civil trial litigation and before administrative law judges. The Office also assists United States Attorneys in the prosecution of labor-related criminal cases and provides legal services to help Department of Labor officials carry out their responsibilities. Through this experience I gained valuable insight and foundational knowledge around critical employment and labor law issues concerning wage and hour violations, occupational safety, and migrant workers – matters that often have a disproportionate impact on women, particularly low-income women and people of color. I also developed and enhanced my legal research and writing skills through the drafting of several legal memoranda, and participated in witness preparation and litigation meetings.

I spent the second half of my summer at the Warren Institute, a multidisciplinary and collaborative center, producing research-based policy prescriptions on issues of racial and ethnic justice in California and the nation. The Warren Institute addresses topics related to civil rights, race, and ethnicity by providing valuable intellectual capital to public and private sector leaders, the media, and the general public. At the Warren Institute I worked with the Center on Health, Economic, and Family Security (CHEFS) to develop programs that facilitate women’s economic and workplace security through affordable health care, job security, affordable childcare, paid sick days, and paid family leave insurance. Such policies are vital to the financial security and physical and emotional wellbeing of women and families. My work at CHEFS has continued into the fall and I am currently working on a policy paper focused on the creation and implementation of a national paid family leave insurance program, allowing workers to receive partial wage compensation if they need to take time off to care for an ill family member (child, parent, or spouse) or to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child. Currently, New Jersey and California are the only two states that have instituted this important work-family program.

The financial support of the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship allowed me to promote social and economic justice for women over the summer through my work both at the Department of Labor and the Warren Institute. I sincerely thank the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship for helping me on my path to becoming a social justice lawyer and to defending the rights and dignity of vulnerable and disenfranchised populations including women, children, and working families in the United States and the world.