A Day in San Francisco: YLA Students Visit Federal Courthouse and Law Firms

By David Garcia, February 9, 2017

The Youth Law Academy of Centro Legal de la Raza spent a day in San Francisco and toured the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, spoke with Judge William Fletcher, visited Cooley LLP, and heard from the Youth Law Center. Although television paints a picture of the law and attorneys, our students were able to see in real life the many possible career choices that come with being an attorney. Our students made sure to leave with their questions answered and left with inspiring messages. All in all the YLA was able to see many different aspects of the law in action.

Here are YLA students and the YLA Program Coordinator sitting in the federal judges’ chairs.

Our first stop was the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where we toured the courthouse and learned about the antique aesthetics the courthouse is known for. Not only did the courthouse host judicial processes, the courthouse served as a hallmark of the West as it flaunted electricity through bare light bulbs. Here is a fun fact: since the Ninth Circuit is a federal court, the symbol of the California bear is missing and instead bald eagles are everywhere as a show of federal authority.

Judge Fletcher shared his insight into being a federal judge and shared his wisdom with the students. He explained the value of having judges with different backgrounds and the challenges that come with being a judge. Judge Fletcher spoke about his journey to the bench and his eventual confirmation after a lengthy process. Our students were not shy to ask Judge Fletcher a variety of questions and he was gracious when answering.

Our next stop was Cooley LLP where the students were able to speak with corporate attorneys and were given the chance to see another field of the law. Beatriz Mejia and her colleagues explained their job duties and how they got to their positions at Cooley. The students were eager to ask questions to find out more about how it is to work in Silicon Valley.

Finally the Youth Law Center introduced another field of the law: policy reform and advocacy. Students asked about the importance of advocacy in the law and the effects that it has on people. Our host spoke about her experience with going to law school and the importance that her work has for herself and for society as well. Students were able to see the importance of non-profit work and the diversity that exists within this field of the law.