Pre-flections on the Law: Chelsea Davis

At a young age I knew I wanted to become a protector of legal rights and a social justice advocate just like my honorable father who served as a police officer in Contra Costa County and Alameda County for 25 years. He frequently referred to me as “Judge Chelsea” because I never hesitated to voice my opinion. Unfortunately, his high-stress occupation took a toll on his health and he died of a heart attack when I was fifteen. It was then that I realized the importance of appreciating my parents’ sacrifices and not being afraid to be the self-confident and intelligent girl my family raised me to be.

My academic background in Political Science and African-American studies at UCLA fostered the development of my vigorous passion for a future career in law, public policy, and politics. My exposure to the recurring values of justice and morality in political and ethnic studies texts activated my awareness of the importance of law in our society. Firstly, my study of Political Science has provided me with the theoretical framework to understand the world in which our current legal system exists, especially in California. Secondly, my background in African-American studies has taught me about historical and structural formations of inequality and power as they pertain to racism, class hierarchy, and sexism within American society. The legal field in particular is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation. In response, I decided to be an agent of change, which is why I co-founded UCLA’s Black Pre-Law Association (BPLA) in hopes to connect underrepresented students to the resources necessary for successful matriculation into law school and increase diversity within the legal profession.

After graduation, I served as a legislative aid to one of the few female legislators in the California State Legislature, Senator Holly J. Mitchell. My position allowed me to acquire a deeper understanding of the legislative process and public policy formation, while advocating on behalf of underserved communities. I assisted Senator Mitchell in the Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality and the Senate Health Committee. I also managed four bills, wrote talking points for committee hearings and floor sessions, and met with committee consultants, lobbyists, and constituents regarding various issues throughout California. Through this experience I gained invaluable leadership experience, professional development, and learned new methods of advocacy.

Although civic engagement is essential to my growth as an advocate, it was also clear that law school would equip me with the education, skills, and training necessary to navigate complex legal systems and bring about positive change. The Honorable Patricia Herron and Ellen James Scholarship will help me achieve my academic goals by providing me with funding to pay for books for the next three semesters of law school.

In the future, I plan on returning to state government and use my J.D. to become a legal analyst for the Office of Legislative Counsel in Sacramento. There I would have the opportunity to draft legislative proposals, prepare legal opinions, and provide other legal services to the Legislature and non-profits in Contra Costa County. I’m hopeful that I can use my law degree to substantively contribute to local, regional, and state governments and make government resources more accessible to underprivileged communities.

Chelsea Davis is a second year law student at UC Berkeley School of Law.

 

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