Workers' rights conference is 'amazing experience' for Brandeis Law student
As a first-year law student, Chad Eisenback has two and a half more years of legal education ahead of him. But he's already experienced something he says will be hard to top — in October 2017, he attended the Peggy Browning Fund's National Law Students Workers' Rights Conference.
“It was one of the best, most amazing experiences I’ve had in education in general," Eisenback says.
The conference, which promotes itself as a chance for law students to gain "insight into becoming an advocate for workers and their families," had a personal tug for Eisenback. As an employee at a local manufacturing company, he is a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has more than 2 million members.
Eisenback, who has been a union steward for two years, had a chance to meet one of SEIU's attorneys, who was moderating a panel discussion about graduate student union organizing.
You could say that unions are in Eisenback's blood. His parents are retired from law enforcement, and he is a lifetime beneficiary of their specialized union, the FOP.
He has his parents' careers to thank, in part, for his decision to pursue a law degree. Growing up, he had only one option for attending take-your-child-to-work days: the police department. When he was about 10 years old, he accompanied his mother to the courthouse.
“I remember meeting a particular attorney. He always wears flashy suits. Even though I didn’t know his name or know exactly what an attorney was at the time, it was the feeling of meeting a celebrity or a role model," Eisenback says. "I knew that I had ultimate respect for him and what he does. I want someone to be able to look at me one day as able to do what he does — ultimately, have a voice for the vulnerable.”
It's that mission of being a voice for the voiceless that motivates Eisenback's interest in labor and employment law.
“As far as labor law goes, I’ve seen the results of negative outcomes when an employee’s rights are being taken away or infringed upon and how much of a detriment that is on somebody that is struggling week to week. And they can’t do anything because they don’t have the resources available to them like the employer does," he says. "On the labor side, typically it feels like it’s an uphill battle. Ultimately, the company has the financial resources, the best attorneys. You’re going up against that.”
Eisenback credits Brandeis Law's Office of Professional Development for helping him apply for the conference and Professor Ariana Levinson for providing him with resources and contacts once he was selected. He also credits his wife, who cares for their two children as he works and attends law school.