Grantee of the Week: Nephtalí Josip Gonzales

Nephtalí Josip Gonzales is from East Lansing, Michigan.  He earned a BA from Michigan State University in 2002 and an MBA from San Francisco State University in 2010.  This past summer he worked at Instituto Laboral de la Raza.

Why did you choose law school, and why USF in particular?

Helping people in need has always given me warm and fuzzy feelings all over. Although I do not know exactly which area of law I will focus on, I am confident that as a lawyer my contribution will be impactful to whichever community, or communities, I decide to dedicate myself to.
I have lived in San Francisco since 2006, and was thrilled about my acceptance to the University of San Francisco. Throughout my time in the City, I have met many lovely people associated not just with the School of Law, but the University as a whole. It is an honor to attend the University of San Francisco School of Law.

What kind of work did you do this summer or what type of projects did you work on?
This summer I worked at the Instituto Laboral de la Raza. We helped low-income persons with employment problems. The bulk of our clients came to us seeking to obtain unpaid wages. We also provided assistance for workers compensation claims, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims. The majority of our clients were Latinos representing various professions within the construction and service industries.
I helped at every step along the process: I conducted intake interviews, prepared and filed claims with the Labor Commission, sent demand letters to employers, accompanied clients to hearings/conferences before the Commission, and sat in on settlement negotiations between our clients and their employers.

What did you find most inspiring about the work you did?
It is difficult to say what was most inspiring about my internship. I find it very impressive that the Instituto does not turn any clients away, and that the Executive Director, Sarah Shaker, works at the Instituto seven days a week.
I was thrilled to know that I was fighting the good fight. The Instituto is a champion for humble people trying to get what they are owed, both legally and morally. It feels good to be able to help people who come in ready to help themselves get what is rightfully theirs.
What would you like to do following law school?
I would like to continue fighting on behalf of the forces of good. Life experiences have led me to have a very special place in my heart for people suffering poor treatment. I am still uncertain about which exact area of law I will work in, but I look forward to working hard on behalf of underserved populations.


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