3L Rebecca Palm is on track to log more than 400 pro bono hours before she graduates this spring, an all-time record for student pro bono at UC Hastings.
As a 1L, Palm attended UC Hastings’ Pro Bono Fair. “I went around to all the tables, and signed up with Homeless Legal Services.” Palm began volunteering every Tuesday evening at the St. Vincent de Paul Shelter, the city’s largest, helping residents and others vacate warrants for minor quality-of-life citations and infractions such as public urination or public drunkenness. These can make it more difficult to find employment or more stable housing.
“I had never worked with this population before, but my psychology training was helpful,” she said. She took to the work, and got to know the shelter regulars. Her calm demeanor turned out to be an asset. In her second year, she was director of the HLS’s warrant defense program. This year, as a 3L, she is co-president of the group with Brad Bowen, and spent the summer and fall semester helping to update a 400-page manual of resources for Bay Area nonprofits.
The Bar Associatin of San Francisco’s Justice & Diversity Center awarded Palm its Community Service Award in April 2013 for her “exceptional commitment” to pro bono work.
“I like being able to help someone to improve their life, to get into a better place. I like being someone people know will be there every week.” She began clinic work with the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors in Spring 2013.
Student Profile: Rebecca Palm, 3L
Hometown: San Jose
Undergraduate Degrees: She has bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.
Volunteerism CV: Palm began serving as a volunteer at a nursing home in high school, where she befriended residents and often painted their nails for them. While at UC Berkeley, she volunteered at a local elementary school as an after-school tutor, and helped students with homework. During her year between undergrad and law school, she volunteered as a high school track coach.
Why Law School: Palm learned about wills and estates while trying to set up a conservatorship for her 96-year-old great-grandmother. Though the family eventually hired an attorney, the process piqued her interest in law.
Campus Involvement: Palm was an editor on the Constitutional Law Quarterly her second year, and serves this year as the quarterly’s Senior Notes Editor. “It’s overwhelming at times,” she acknowledges.
Paid Employment: Palm has had a variety of nonprofit and public agency legal jobs, including stints at Legal Assistance for Seniors and the Port of Oakland. She currently works for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, just two blocks from UC Hastings, and was a research assistant to Professor Harry G. Prince.
Concentration: After volunteering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, Palm took estate planning, tax and elder law. She is working toward a concentration in tax.
Diversions: Palm is a runner, with a slim distance-runner’s physique. In undergrad, she was a walk-on for the Cal cross-country and track teams. She ran the 6K in the fall for cross-country, and the steeplechase and 5K in the spring for track. Palm still runs near her home in Oakland, often around Lake Merritt.
Running Tip: Start slow. Don’t go too crazy. Run because you want to, not because you think you should.