Whether fighting to defend the rights of workers, migrants or sexual assault survivors, Emma Hyndman wants to use the law as a weapon against injustice. That’s why she chose to attend UC Hastings – a law school known for its social justice programs and opportunities.
Hyndman said she wanted to make a positive difference in the world, but she didn’t initially consider attending law school, “I was told that the best way to help people was to get a law degree and that I should understand how the law works if I wanted to change it or make it.”
She graduated in May and said she plans to work as a human rights lawyer assisting those who feel cut off from traditional paths to obtaining justice, “I hope that I’m able work directly with non-lawyers who believe the law can positively help their life.”
During her time at UC Hastings, Hyndman got first-hand experience in numerous pro bono jobs and internships. She worked on labor rights issues with several law firms and organizations, including Legal Aid at Work, Leonard Carder LLP and Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP.
She did housing rights work for the Hastings alumni-founded firm Tobener Ravenscroft LLP, and she volunteers with the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. Additionally, she completed a year-long externship with Equal Rights Advocates focused on gender discrimination in education and the workplace.
“I feel really lucky that I had the chance to explore areas of law from employment and labor law, civil and human rights, and gender justice issues,” Hyndman said. “Every semester I was able to secure a job, internship, or pro bono opportunity that allowed me to explore a bit further what I want to do with this degree.”
Hyndman also served as co-editor-in-chief of the Hastings Journal on Gender and the Law, formerly known as the Women’s Law Journal.
As board member and president of the Hastings-to-Haiti Partnership (HHP), Hyndman traveled to Tapachula and Tijuana, Mexico, where she interviewed Haitian migrants and contributed to detailed reports on the hardships migrants face journeying to the United States. “Throughout my three years with HHP, I have felt myself grow into the lawyer I want to be while also growing close to and learning from mentors and peers,” she said.
Getting through law school was challenging, Hyndman said, but she’s thankful for mentors in the Worker’s Rights Clinic, HHP and the Externship and Pro Bono programs who helped her along the way. “Each of them encouraged me to continue exploring what the law had to offer in terms of serving the public good, while also recognizing that there are many areas for improvement where I can meaningfully contribute,” she said.
Hyndman, a San Francisco native, said there’s no beating the school’s location and proximity to opportunities in the legal field. “I would tell potential students that San Francisco has a lot to offer, and UC Hastings is right in the middle of all of it,” she said. “In addition to the job opportunities in tech and social justice, the city is an incredible place to be a student.”