UC Law SF Students Recognized for Social Justice Work

Students who graduated with a concentration in social justice lawyering were honored at a ceremony in May.

From environmental protection to workers’ rights, UC Law San Francisco students spent thousands of hours offering their talents and expertise to support multiple causes and clients over the last year.

Through clinics, externships, and pro bono work, the law students provided more than 60,000 unpaid hours of legal work, amounting to more than $7.8 million in free legal assistance to nonprofits, public agencies, and individual clients.

Gail Silverstein is Associate Dean of Experiential Learning and Co-Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Law SF.

“We are immensely proud of what our students accomplished this year,” said Gail Silverstein, Associate Dean of Experiential Learning and Co-Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Law SF. “Their contributions have made a tangible difference for the clients and communities they served. We hope it helps foster a lifelong commitment to social justice work, regardless of where each student ends up in their career.”

UC Law SF provides multiple ways for students to practice public interest work. Students can earn academic credit through in-house clinics, field-placement clinics, and externships, which allow them to work directly with clients, nonprofits, and public agencies. The Center for Social Justice – a new law school center that launched last fall — also supports student organizations and individual students doing public interest work in the community.

Brittany Glidden is Co-Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Law SF.

“This has been a great first year for the Center for Social Justice,” said Center Co-Director Brittany Glidden. “We hosted multiple events to help inform first-year students about the many public interest opportunities at UC Law SF and collaborated with student groups and faculty to help facilitate connections between those interested in social justice work.”

Students who engaged in various types of service work over the last year were celebrated at a Social Justice Celebration in late May. Among those honored was Peter Habib ’23, who was co-chair of the UC Law SF Haiti Justice Partnership, which collaborates with a sister law school in Haiti and works to advance the human rights of Haitians. “I joined this partnership to learn from and contribute to a special community of people who work tirelessly to move the proverbial needle forward,” he said.

Peter Habib ’23 received a Social Justice Achievement Award and was recognized for his pro bono work.

Habib was one of 14 students to receive a Social Justice Achievement Award, which recognizes students’ efforts to serve the public interest. He also received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship that will allow him to continue working with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at UC Law SF after his May graduation. He previously worked as a law clerk for the center while he was a law student.

Associate Dean Gail Silverstein presented Hillary Liljedahl ’23 with a stole for graduates who concentrated in social justice lawyering.

Habib and another Social Justice Achievement Award recipient, Maria Clara Ribeiro Siqueira ’25, also were recognized for their pro bono work. During spring break, Ribeiro Siqueira traveled with a group of students to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she visited two detention centers in Arizona and toured a migrant shelter south of the border. She said, “Seeing the lack of access to legal aid most migrants experience further established my plans of doing pro bono work for asylum seekers or immigrants like me once I graduate.”

Seventeen students who graduated in May with a concentration in social justice lawyering were also celebrated at the ceremony. Silverstein presented each graduate with a special purple stole to wear during commencement. One of those graduates was Hillary Liljedahl ‘23, who will start her legal career as an attorney with the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office. She said, “If I can divert even just a few young people away from the prison pipeline and into community programs, I will consider my career a success. Hopefully I can do much more than that.”

Find a full list of honorees from the 2023 Social Justice Celebration here.