David Segal Delves into Voting Rights Litigation as a TCRP Law Clerk
Interning with the Voting Rights team at TCRP this summer was just right for me. Before law school, I worked on voting rights as a community organizer in coalition with TCRP. But I had started to realize that I didn’t want to be an organizer forever, and experiencing TCRP’s work gave me a glimpse of impact litigation and movement lawyering. Heading into my third year of law school, I am better prepared to pursue a career in public interest law, because of both the work I did and the people I worked with.
When I started in May, the Voting Rights team was deep into several cases involving redistricting and voter suppression. I was immediately given the opportunity to do substantive research, editing, and drafting for motions and memos. Redistricting cases can involve multiple types of statutory and constitutional claims, as well as an overwhelming amount of demographic data. I certainly felt overwhelmed stepping into a case in progress, but my mentor, Sarah Chen and the team guided me toward background materials to help me get up to speed. They gave me discrete projects that allowed me to practice my legal research and writing skills within the context of redistricting law. I received helpful edits and feedback on my work from TCRP attorneys and our co-counsel (including another public interest legal organization and a law firm joining us pro bono).
Aside from substantive work in redistricting and election law, my summer was a crash course in pretrial procedure. With the Galveston redistricting case set for trial on August 7, and the final pretrial conference set for July 25, the summer was a flurry of pretrial activity for the Voting Rights team: preparing exhibits, taking and observing depositions, researching and drafting motions in limine, meeting with clients, working on trial strategy. I gained a new appreciation for the project management that goes into shepherding a case from pleading through pretrial motions to trial. These are all areas of law practice that I have barely touched in law school — but are essential to any litigation, including impact litigation!
Photo of TCRP Staff. Left to right: Christina Beeler, David Segal, Sarah Chen, and Dustin Rynders
In the midst of this work with the Voting Rights team, I also had the chance to prepare a research memo for the Criminal Injustice team on a topic I’m passionate about, First Amendment free speech issues. I was grateful for the opportunity to dig into research about an area of law I began studying in my second year of law school and hope to continue in my legal career.
Aside from the legal work, I’ve enjoyed learning about movement lawyering from my TCRP colleagues. It’s powerful to see how the litigators, legislative advocates, organizers, and communications team work together on a common strategy. Rather than lawyering in a vacuum, it’s about being part of a broader movement for social justice.
Finally, I’ve been inspired this summer by intentional conversations about work-life balance and policies on parental leave. Civil rights litigation is a demanding career, and attorneys need space and support to nurture their wellbeing and care for their families. A senior supervising attorney started parental leave during the summer, after a thorough process of planning with his team and the creation of a leave proposal. It was helpful to see how the organization’s policies and the team’s relationships created a supportive environment for him to take significant leave and ensure the work would get done. I also spoke informally with staff who shared that the combination of remote work and a supportive workplace culture allowed them to be present for their families while also working hard for the organization. I hope to find a public interest career that allows me to balance parenting and doing the work that I love.
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