Why Volunteer?

SJC is able to serve such a high volume of clients because of the support from volunteers we get throughout the year.

Law Clerks

SJC is always excited to have law student volunteers.  If you’re interested in immigration or criminal law, we can provide a meaningful learning experience for you.  We have work-study contracts with many law schools in the Bay Area and work with your school to offer credit.

We require a minimum commitment of one semester and 15 hours a week. Law clerks will perform a variety of tasks from researching novel issues, writing briefs, and working directly with clients on cases.

If you are interested in a law clerk position, please email a brief cover letter explaining your interest and your current resume to internships@socialjusticecollaborative.org.

Internships are typically on a rotating schedule beginning August for fall semester, January for Spring semester, and May for Summer.

Undergraduate Interns

We are happy to work with undergraduates who are interested in the legal field.  Interns help with various projects around the office, help with translation, perform research to support cases, and work directly with clients. Spanish speakers are especially in demand and will get more one-on-one experience with clients.

We ask a commitment of 10 hours a week and at least one semester, although two is preferred.  Internships are on a rotating schedule beginning August for fall semester, January for spring semester, and May for summer.

Please email your cover letter and resume to internships@socialjusticecollaborative.org to apply.

Interpreters

We rely in language interpreters to help us translate documents, reports, letters for clients, and official interviews. We especially need bilingual Spanish speakers and speakers of indigenous Guatemalan languages like K’iche, Mam, Kaqchikel, and Q’eqchi. If you are interested, email volunteers@socialjusticecollaborative.org with the language you speak and your availability.

Andrea

Andrea

Paralegal Intern

What sets the SJC apart is the kindness people are treated with. When you are in this position of seeking help you are incredibly vulnerable. They go above and beyond here. People aren’t just numbers. They really care and see people’s humanity.”

Andrea found the SJC when one of the attorneys, Cindy, gave a presentation to an immigration law class. Andrea said that these human rights issues are a big interest to her. She said, “It is important to learn about the ways people—especially children—struggle in the system. How can you know and not care?”

Both of Andrea’s parents came to this country as undocumented immigrants, and her mom recently received administrative relief to remain. She said, “It’s important to feel like I’m making a contribution. I’m a citizen, so I feel that obligation to do something. I’m lucky to be able to.”

Andrea’s mother is an adult education teacher, and she attributes her worldview to watching her mother do that work and meet the students she supported.

At the SJC, Andrea is able to serve as an interpreter, including at asylum hearings. She said, “I’m just a student and can’t take the place of an attorney, but I can help in that way.”

She also shared that the experience of working at the SJC is teaching her more than ways to apply her language abilities in the legal field. She said, “Here they work hard to understand their clients’ experiences. They really have empathy, and want to hear about the person’s health and mental state. It’s holistic lawyering.”

Andrea sees the work at SJC as both emotionally taxing and incredibly significant. She said, “This situation isn’t going to stop being an issue if you step back, and some people don’t have that opportunity. For them it isn’t a choice. When I was interviewed to work here, we talked about self-care, and I’ve received guidance and empowerment from the team. They help us provide the services the clients need.”

She concluded, “If you can help one person, it has an enormous impact not just on them, but on their family. The ripple effect is very real. I feel lucky to be part of this work.”

Photo by Another Look

 

 

Brizette

Brizette

Intern

Brizette’s work as an SJC intern has led her in a wide array of legal support roles, including responding to letters from detainees, supporting in filing petitions for asylum and for relief under the Violence Against Women Act, and interpreting. She said, “I’m considering applying to Law School. I hadn’t considered immigration as a field before, but now that I have realized the impact that is changing.”

Brizette shared that her work has led her to new appreciation of her language skills, and has helped her develop strategies for building relationships with clients, draw out their stories, and connect on a personal level. Her mom is working toward permanent residency, so this work resonates strongly with her experiences.

She said, “I worked on a declaration for a woman from El Salvador whose son was under threat from gangs. Hearing about her experiences was very difficult—she had to cross two borders to get here. There were questions that I needed to ask that clearly brought up past trauma for her, and I felt very impacted by that. It made me feel more motivated to understand her experiences, and I remember thinking that if I feel this inspired by making this small contribution, winning a case must make it all worthwhile.”

She said that this work has taught her to “check her privilege” and be sensitive to power dynamics in all of her client interactions. She said, “Even the way we describe our services, we want to make it clear that the lawyers are serving the people, and that we are there for them. This is especially important in these sensitive cases with people who have had difficult experiences.”

Brizette has already seen her work make a considerable impact in the five months she has interned with SJC. She said, “SJC is willing to let us as interns contribute in a big way.” This is an obvious source of pride for her.

Photo by Another Look