Two UC Hastings law students – Maleeha Ghaznavi ’23 and Zoë Grimaldi ’24 – have won prestigious Peggy Browning fellowships and are spending their summers fighting for worker rights, at a law firm and union headquarters. The labor law-focused fellowships are highly competitive, drawing 650 student applications this year.
Ghaznavi is working as a law clerk at Neyhart, Anderson, Flynn & Grosboll in San Francisco, which specializes in labor law. There, she researches and writes legal memos on union-related labor law and trust fund issues, including withdrawal liability, benefits compliance, and wage and hour requirements.
Ghaznavi, a Northern California native, has a deep commitment to public interest work. Last summer, she volunteered with the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the San Francisco-based nonprofit Legal Aid at Work. She also had stints volunteering with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. This past spring, she participated in the UC Hastings Mediation Clinic, where she gained “insight into the pros and cons of neutrality, especially when faced with power imbalances between parties.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Ghaznavi worked at a small law firm, which sparked her interest in employment law and led her pursue a J.D. at UC Hastings. “With my love for San Francisco and the fact that the school allowed me to stay close to home, along with the school’s emphasis on close community, it felt like a great fit for me,” she said.
Ghaznavi said she plans to work as a plaintiffs’ employment lawyer after graduating next year. “I hope to play my part in equalizing workplace environments so that workers are not taken advantage of and are treated with dignity,” she said. “I am excited to learn more about employment and labor law this summer.”
The other Peggy Browning Fellow, Grimaldi, is spending her summer in Hanover, Maryland, working with the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT).
Her work includes auditing local unions, drafting legal memos on immigration and interstate labor contracts, and researching and writing about immigrant visas for student workers and National Labor Rights Act violations. She’s also drafted motions for a major lawsuit and successfully lobbied the international union to provide feminine hygiene products for free at its headquarters, a policy she hopes to expand nationwide.
On her journey to law school, Grimaldi worked in a diverse set of jobs. She worked at HIPS, the oldest harm reduction and overdose prevention organization in Washington, D.C. as a Washington AIDS Partnership Heath Corps Fellow. She served as a liaison between community health centers and medical industry groups with the National Association of Community Health Centers. She has worked on voter registration drives and political campaigns including for NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign. “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work in both private and public sectors for more than five years before deciding that law school. These experiences have given me the opportunity to make a positive, tangible difference in our country,” she said.
Grimaldi, a San Francisco native, plans to work in government regulation or lawmaking after graduating in 2024. She said, “If we must live in a world that charges us for basic necessities – housing, food, water, and education among many others – then I want to ensure everyone can access these necessities and build a comfortable, happy life for themselves and their loved ones.” She said she wants to serve as a legal and political advocate to help expand worker rights and “make sure the billionaire class finally pays their fair share.”