Condolence Letter by Genesis

On behalf of LLSA, we mourn the tragic death of Judge Esther Salas’ son, who was shot by a gunman at their family home. Judge Salas’s husband sustained non-fatal injuries.

Judge Salas is a federal district judge at the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in Newark. She is extensively involved in the Hispanic community.

Judge Salas was the past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. In 2016, she was nationally recognized by the Hispanic Bar Association as Latina Judge of the Year.

In addition to her community involvement, Judge Salas broke barriers in becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Magistrate Judge and currently as a Judge on the District Court of New Jersey.

Today we express our deepest condolences to Judge Salas and her family. We wish them peace and strength to cope with the moment of mourning they are experiencing.


Latinx Law Students Association E-board

A History Lesson: Farmworkers Rights by Jacob Bies

A History Lesson: Farmworkers Rights

I’m sure I’m not the first to say that the Class of 2022 at law schools nationwide had a strange spring semester. In the midst of navigating classes via Zoom and adjusting to online exam schedules, the non-academic aspects of law school pressed on as well. I count myself among the lucky ones who had received a summer internship offer just before the pandemic measures really rolled out. Even luckier, my internship survived the restructuring and adaptations so many organizations underwent over the past few months, albeit in a modified, work-from-home form.

I’ve been clerking this summer with Legal Aid of Nebraska, in their Agricultural Workers Rights Program. “Our focus is on ensuring agricultural workers are paid what they are owed under the law; ensuring that their working conditions are safe; and addressing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.” The program has been a great fit for me, hitting on two areas of my areas of interest: labor/employment law and immigration law. While the program does not explicit tie in to immigration, the farmworkers it can serve span the whole spectrum of immigration statuses.

Aside from the legal research and client assistance experience I’ve been gaining, one of the most interesting thing I learned about is the background and history of federal labor protections for farmworkers. Much of the legislation and regulation relating to farmworker employment rights is specifically in relation to migrant farmworkers, such as those on H-2A visas. One of the major pieces of farmworker rights legislation is the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, oft referred to as AWPA. AWPA protects farmworkers regardless of immigration or visa status, as a means of protecting them from exploitation in one of the industries that can be rife with it.

AWPA was passed in 1983, in part to provide protections for farmworkers that were left out of the New Deal’s Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. The struggle to enshrine labor rights for farmworkers into law is rooted in the historical discrimination against those workers in America. In the early 20th century, the demographics of farmworkers were mostly African American sharecroppers in the South. As President Roosevelt worked to push through New Deal legislation, he needed the votes of southern Democrats, many of whom were opposed to the idea of paying minimum and overtime wages to their farmworkers and in-home staff. President Roosevelt bargained for their votes by excluding farmworkers from many of the benefits in the National Labor Relations Act, Social Security Act, and FLSA.

Over time, Congress and later administrations extended and amended portions of the acts to cover farmworkers. Until 1978, unemployment programs under the Social Security Act did not cover farmworkers, and even now they receive less support from the programs than any other worker group. Agricultural workers are still not allowed to collectively bargain under the National Labor Relations Act. The FLSA initially fully exempted agricultural workers from minimum wage, overtime, and child labor protections. In the latter half of the 1960s, agricultural

labor was phased into minimum wage provisions, but exemptions from overtime and child labor protections stand to this day.

Along with the legal developments, demographic developments in the field of agricultural labor occurred over the almost-century since the passage of New Deal legislation. Historically, and regardless of their demographics, farmworkers have been an oppressed class of workers. As New Deal legislation developed and was amended to better protect resident farmworkers and the civil rights movement secured rights for African-American workers, a logical conclusion would be that the historically African-American labor force received better treatment, pay and an increased quality of life in their work. Contrarily, developments in immigration policy lead the farmworker workforce to shift towards cheaper labor from immigrants, largely from Latin America, both legally, through federal work visa programs like H2-A, and illegally, through the labor of undocumented workers.

According to 2015-16 National Agricultural Workers Survey data released in 2018, 83% of all U.S. farmworkers are Latino, and 19% of them are migrants, meaning they travel over 75 miles from their normal place of residence in order to work for the season. When we consider only the crop workers, the number of migrants jumps to 42%.

The most striking statistics to me, and the ones I’ll wrap this up on, relate to the income of these workers. The mean and median annual income of crop workers falls between $17,500 and $19,999. 33% of crop workers fall below poverty guidelines. 43% used no public assistance programs, and oftentimes those in the 57% that did only reported usage by one family member.

As I spend my summer working with and on behalf of farmworkers, I keep the statistics and info I’ve written here in mind. It keeps me motivated and driven knowing that the reason many of the legal battles I contribute to fighting feel one sided is because of decades upon decades spent on shaping systems to make it feel as such. I decided to go to law school for the opportunity to fight for justice on behalf of those being exploited, and I am thankful that my summer internship has allowed me to do so even before I take the bar exam.

Effective Networking in Law School

By: Genesis Monserrate

What is effective networking?

I will begin by saying what I think effective networking is not about. Effectively networking is not about making a connection with every attorney or judge that you meet. Keep in mind that, as you network, you will connect with some legal professionals and not with others. It’s normal.

But, you should not feel discouraged. Networking in law school is crucial to both post-graduate employment and years after. You might hear about how important networking is, but the reality is that networking can be awkward and/or intimidating. On this post, I hope to provide non-exhaustive tips on how to effectively network and maintain those contacts.

First,how do you find contacts (and a potential mentor)? Generally, a school or a conference will host a networking event and you show up to a room full of strangers with no knowledge of who’s who and what their background is. Although these networking events can be helpful, they can also be awkward.

I believe the best way to effectively network is to take control of who you reach out to and what events you choose to attend to network. For example:

(1) Join bar associations and organizations that specialize in a legal area of interest:

—Search within the Member Directory to connect with lawyers. Most bar associations and organizations have a Member Directory that you can search through. Within the directory, you generally have access to their e-mail and place of work. Thus, you can do a quick search on their background to learn more about their work experience and interests. Reaching out to a member attorney is an automatic conversation starter because both share a common interest. Further, knowing about their background gives you more to talk about.

— -Events: In-person events can be awkward. However, it may not be so at an organization’s event that focuses on a specific area, i.e. a communications law conference where you at least know about the person’s area of expertise. You can then begin by asking about areas within that field to learn more.

(2) LinkedIn:

Unlike networking events, where you may be unaware of anyone’s name or background, LinkedIn is a great tool to search legal professionals that work in a particular field of interest or specific workplace.

Although there are more effective ways to search on LinkedIn, I generally go to the employer’s website and I click on their website’s employee tab. You can also type in the practice area or employer name on the LinkedIn profile.

Connecting through LinkedIn gives you many conversation starters. Assuming the attorney has updated their LinkedIn profile over time, you can look at their experience and, if they include it, their job duties.This can give you a general idea of the work they do and can help you brainstorm more specific questions to ask.

(3) Get new contacts from your current one:

Once you have set up a time to talk with your contact, feel free to ask them about local or national organizations that you can join and ask if they can refer you to any other person who can provide additional insight.

Maintaining your contacts:

Effective networking is also about keeping in touch with your contacts. Although your contact may reach out to you to check in, you should remember that they are busy and you should always attempt to reach out first. Further, you should understand that not hearing

from your contact does not mean that they do not care, but that life gets in the way. Always remember that it is your responsibility to reach out and keep them updated about you. It can be about interesting classes that you have taken, a news article of interest that you came across, etc.

As to how often you should reach out, I personally think that there is not a specific time frame, but once or twice a month is ideal (depending on your relationship with your contact).

Many students think that they are burdening their contact when they reach out. But, keep in mind that many legal professionals want to help and it’s always good to remember that if they did not want to serve as a point of contact or as a potential mentor, they likely would not have attended the school event or offered to participate in a career networking event for students (to name a few examples).

Finally, given that legal professionals can get busy with work, if they have not responded to your follow-up e-mail, be persistent. Sending one will be appreciated and will not be seen as bothersome. However, if you have sent a second or third email and there has been no response, you may want to wait more time.

Lastly, remember to actively and persistently connect with as many people that you believe will support you and will serve as a resource. It will pay off.

Coquito Recipe


By Nathaly Olivero Ramirez

Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican drink.

The name, Coquito, comes from the Spanish word “coco” which means coconut and the diminutive “ito.” To Puerto Ricans who grew up with the extremely sweet drink, Coquito is a part of their childhood, a taste of their happiness and, most importantly a piece of their culture.

Coquito is often present at festivities. Although it is usually served as a Christmas drink, it can be made at any time of the year. As we struggle to get through 2020 and the current pandemic, it would be good take some time off to enjoy a sweet drink with family and friends.


1. 1 can of condensed milk

2. 1 can of coconut cream

3. 2 cans of evaporated milk

4. 2 cinnamon sticks or cinnamon powder to your liking

5. Vanilla (just a little or to your liking)

Tip: Add alcohol to your liking. Vodka is usually the best choice.


1. Pour all the ingredients together in a container.

2. Mix them until they become one.

3. Store in the refrigerator.

4. Enjoy!

LLSA’s Letter in Support of BLSA

Tonight, as most of us sit safe in our homes, we struggle to find the words to understand what is happening in the world around us. We struggle to convey our sorrow for the lives tragically and wrongfully taken; we struggle to communicate our sorrow for their families; and we struggle to convey our outrage at the blatant acts of racism occurring in our country, and our utter disappointment for the contempt and indifference of our leaders.

“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” These are powerful words spoken by Hispanic leader Cesar Chavez. We must follow his example. We cannot fight racism and injustice without understanding the struggles of the black community, and until we open our eyes to the reality that they have been fighting every day, we will continue to contribute to such injustice. To stand silently by as injustice occurs is to contribute to the destruction of justice for all. By allowing this vulgar display of violent racism to continue we are contributing to it’s rot.

LLSA will not stand idly by. We will use our platform and our voices to stand up for justice and for our fellow black student community. LLSA stands in support of BLSA. We say loudly and clearly that we are a safe community for any member of the Penn State family and that you will always have an ally in us. Racism will not be tolerated. Every life is valued. We are not colorblind. We see every color and each color is unique, valued, and beautiful.

“It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting [racism] out.” – Michelle Obama

Penn State LLSA E-Board

There are resources available 


Reconectando con Mark Diaz

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This summer I am working with Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, the Director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law. Professor Wadhia is well-known in the immigration realm for her cutting-edge publications uncovering the subtleties and realities of prosecutorial discretion and immigration enforcement. Some of the work I have been doing has been in the clinical capacity, as I was a clinical student last semester, and some has been in the research capacity. For the Clinic, I have been involved in providing unbiased information regarding the pressing immigration issues of the moment. For example, the Clinic hosted a family separation/detention information session, and released two fact sheets to bring light to the law and policy surrounding family separation. Some of the case work from the Spring semester has also, fortunately, carried on into the summer.  In my research ! capacity, I have been involved with Professor Wadhia’s persona! l, non-clinic related, publications. I’m look forward to next semester when I will be continuing my work as a research assistant for Professor Wadhia as well as earning five more credits in the Advanced Immigration Clinic.

Reconectando con Melissa Blanco, President of LLSA

Hi everyone! My name is Melissa Blanco and I’m a rising third year student at Penn State Law. This summer, I am working in Philadelphia doing criminal justice work (I promise to tell you more once the summer is over!). Beyond that, I’ve been editing Penn State Law Review comments that will be published in the fall. Speaking of the fall, I’m extremely excited to welcome all of the new 1Ls to the Penn State Law family! There’s nothing more comforting than knowing you will have a home away from home at Penn State Law, and I can’t wait for all of the incoming 1Ls to experience that. Until then, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer as much as I am!

Reconectando con Vanessa Miller

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Vanessa is a fourth-year J.D./Ph.D. student and the LLSA Outreach and Recruitment Chair for the 2018-2019 year. She is also the Vice President of the Public Interest Law Fund and the Student Bar Association Diversity Chair. This summer, Vanessa is interning in Washington, D.C. at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“Lawyers’ Committee”) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (“LDF”). At the Lawyers’ Committee, Vanessa is part of the Educational Opportunities Project working on issues of access and equity. She begins her internship with LDF in July. Since moving to Washington, D.C., Vanessa has attended a rally on Capitol Hill, attended a salary negotiation workshop sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), watched several Congressional hearings, and plans on hearing Supreme Court decisions in person. Vanessa is also the recipient of a Public Interest Law Fund Fellowship, The B.A. Rudolph Foundation Graduate Public Service Scholarship, and a Cuban American Bar Association Scholarship. She also recently became a contributing writer for The Black Wall Street Times.