by Whitney Fay
Last weekend, I was able to attend the 15th Annual National Law Students Workers’ Rights Conference in Baltimore, MD. Organized by the Peggy Browning Fund, the Conference focuses on current issues in the field of Labor Law and seeks to give participants insight into becoming advocates for workers and their families via multiple interactive workshops, panel discussions, and lectures by attorneys and activists who work in that legal arena. While there, I met law students from all over the country, all of whom had various levels of insight and experience with the Labor Law field.
Some participants came from union families or were union organizers and were passionate about solving current union problems from an advocate’s perspective. Some students were more interested in government regulation, administrative law, and collective bargaining public policy. Finally, some students (like myself) had little to no prior experience with Labor Law, but were excited to learn more about all of these things! Despite varying backgrounds and level of familiarity with the topic, all of the students I met seemed willing to learn from each other and share ideas with an open mind.
Out of all the sessions I was able to attend while at the Conference, my favorite was probably a panel discussion on “Sports & Labor Law.” Panel members included general counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association, the National Basketball League Players Association, and the National Football League Players Association. Although sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the celebrity of professional sports with the less glamorous professions of other unions such as trash collectors or home-care workers, it was really fascinating for me to hear how many similarities are shared between the sports unions and their less famous brethren. Also, I received the inside scoop on some current baseball happenings which was very relevant given that the Cardinals were playing Game 3 of the World Series that night!
Overall, I am so grateful that I had the chance to attend this Conference because it really opened my eyes to a whole new area of the law. Not only do I now have a greater appreciation for the history of the labor movement in the United States, but I also have greater insight into a whole new avenue of legal careers. I look forward to using what I learned at the Conference to better represent my future clients, and I’m excited to know that I now have a greater network of legal colleagues who have the drive and passion to make our workplaces more economically productive and friendly to workers.
To learn more about the Peggy Browning Fund, please visit www.peggybrowningfund.org. A description of the 2013 Conference can be found under the “Workers’ Rights Conference” tab.