Kitty Zeng is a high school student at Balboa High School in San Francisco, where she takes part in Law Academy. Established in 1997 by then Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) President Judge Jeffrey Ross, Law Academy is a program that encourages, inspires, and increases career opportunities for students. Creative and inspiring curriculum is built into several core classes where juniors and seniors learn basic legal concepts and interview and job skills. A summer fellowship gives rising juniors direct work experience and school credit as paid fellows in law firms and legal departments.
Kitty spent six weeks this summer as a fellow at the bar association, where she spent time with different department at BASF and the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC). Last month, we shared part one of Kitty’s reflections and observations – here is part two. Enjoy!
Reflections, Week 4
My week started with three very insightful interviews. During my interview with Julie [Traun], the director of court programs, I learned about three different types of court. Hearing about the juvenile court really pulled at my heartstrings.
I also interviewed Natascha [Fastabend, Barristers Club treasurer and director of the graduate tax program at USF School of Law] and Drew [Amoroso] CEO of Move Associates and 2018 president of the Barristers Club. It was refreshing talking to Natascha because she was very relatable. It’s reassuring talking to someone who knows what their passion in life is. She taught me what I should include in my writing to make me stand out from the thousands of college applicants. A piece of advice that I learned from Drew was that I shouldn’t be afraid to take risks in life. Drew took the risk of starting his own company. Now he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life.
Reflections, Week 5
During this week, I visited the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) clinic again. Like before, I listened in to some intakes. The first person that I listened to was extremely prepared and had all her receipts compiled. The second person hadn’t paid rent for over a year and had been already evicted out of the apartment for over a month. Sitting in on these intakes reminds me of the calls I hear in LRIS, the lawyer referral department. What amazes me is the range of stories and backgrounds all the clients have.
A highlight from this week was getting a tour of the Google office. There were many little break rooms, each with their own theme and each floor had their own micro kitchen. The staff said that the break rooms were there so that people can take the opportunity to be creative while taking their break. During the panel discussion at Google, a few of the lawyers there spoke. Many of them came from firms before they started working at Google. A quote that stood out to me was “What I like about working for Google is that you don’t necessarily have to do what gives you the biggest profit, but you get to do what is right.”
At the end of the week, I went to the Eviction Defense Court. Being there was nothing like what I expected. I didn’t realize that all the attorneys talked in the halls with their clients until they were called to trial.
Reflections, Week 6
One of the highlights from my fellowship with BASF/JDC were the many informational interviews I conducted. Meeting all the new people and learning about different areas of expertise was really refreshing and exciting. Everyone was so warm and helpful, creating such a welcoming environment. Another highlight was all the presentations, workshops, and meetings that I attended at BASF and law firms. The informative presentations made me realize that I didn’t have to be a lawyer to be in the legal field. The third highlight would be visiting the HAP clinic and seeing the staff doing all the intakes. I think that it’s important to see that the organization is making a direct impact on the community.
Throughout my fellowship, I definitely have grown personally and professionally. I’ve learned how to better conduct informational interviews. I’ve never been good at talking to new people but I’ve improved through the interviews. I’ve also learned to network with the people around me. I realized that the bigger my network is, the better and easier it’ll be to find the opportunities I’m looking for. Lastly, I’ve grown by learning how to be more versatile in different environments.
My perception of the legal field has definitely changed. I always thought that there was only one main type of law but now I know that there so many types of laws. During the last presentation at Pillsbury, I also realized that there are alternative positions in the legal profession. Every position is vital for the success of the law organization/firm. I now have a newfound respect for everyone that works in this field.
Hear more from Kitty at the JDC Annual Gala on September 27, where she will address guests to share her Law Academy experience.
Kitty is a Law Academy Fellow who spent six weeks working at BASF this summer. She is a sophomore in high school who is interested in pursuing either law or medicine at one of her “dream” schools, UCLA or UC Davis.