Luke Freedman Reaffirms His Passion for Public Interest Law as a Summer Law Clerk for TCRP
Earlier this summer, as a Summer Law Clerk for TCRP, I was in a meeting with TCRP Attorney’s discussing legal strategy for a suit against Galveston County over its discriminatory redistricting practices. Galveston’s new proposed map had eliminated the only district where Black and Hispanic voters were able to elect a candidate of their choice. I was intrigued by the severe impact of this critical case on minority communities in Texas, and on our nation as a whole. For the other attorneys it may have been just another meeting, but for me, the meeting was a culmination of a long journey that led me to pursue law school and civil rights law.
I have always had a deep passion for the law. But not being interested in corporate practice, I initially decided to pass on law school. For six years, I worked as a consultant supporting nonprofits and foundations on issues including voting rights, criminal and legal reform, and poverty alleviation. I saw lawyers using their law degrees to work as effective advocates around these issues, and it motivated me to do the same.
My summer at TCRP has been exactly what I hoped for when I decided to pursue law school. I have gotten to work on topics I am passionate about, while learning the litigation skills that will make me an effective advocate as an attorney. In addition to the Galveston case, I have worked on a variety of other projects including a U.S. Supreme Court cert petition and a potential legal challenge to the conditions in a juvenile detention facility.
Legal Fellow Sarah Xiyi Chen (Luke’s mentor) and Luke Freedman working in TCRP’s Austin Office.
My work has also given me a deeper appreciation for the range of skills that go into civil rights litigation. Beyond a detailed knowledge of the relevant law, attorneys and staff need to understand the procedures of the court, effectively manage partnerships with other stakeholders, and align litigation with other communication and policy advocacy. TCRP allows its staff great autonomy in leading this work and developing effective strategies to maximize impact. This trust extends to the law clerks as well, as I was asked to take on broad research questions and given the latitude to think creatively about these tasks and how to connect relevant law to the particulars of a case.
The work at TRCP can be emotionally taxing. It’s not just abstract questions of law that are at stake, but real people’s lives. Lives that have often been severely harmed by harsh voter restrictions, an overly punitive criminal legal system, and draconian immigration policies. I felt this weight at times, but keeping the real-world impact front of mind also serves as motivation and a reminder of why the work is so important.
In the same way that consulting with public interest lawyers inspired me to go to law school, the summer at TCRP has reinforced my desire to do civil rights litigation. When I start that work next year, I will draw on the skills I have learned and the passion of the colleagues I have worked with over the course of this transformative summer.