Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association (YULAA)


Our Mission:

The Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association (YULAA) is a Yale College student organization which broadly speaking promotes human rights through legal empowerment on and off campus. Members work with various legal aid organizations and advocacy groups in the greater New Haven area throughout the semester. YULAA also invites speakers to campus who offer direct, practical insight into the criminal justice system, the immigration crisis, and refugee resettlement, among other topics. In addition, YULAA hosts various advocacy events like letter-writing campaigns; membership events such as initiation, study breaks, and movie nights; and pre-law events like our recent LSAT strategy session.

Our Activities:

YULAA Families
Direct Service
The purpose of YULAA Families was to provide members with an opportunity to meet and socialize with fellow YULAA members through meals and other social events. YULAA Families are a low commitment way for newer members of YULAA to connect with other members of the YULAA community. Interested students filled out a form with information so that Board could sort them into families based on their interests. This program was perfect for those wanting to learn more about the pre-law process, meet other students, and gain peer mentorship.

"Getting Into Law School" Event with The Princeton Review
Advocacy, or Activism
On Thursday, November 17th from 7 pm - 8 pm, YULAA hosted a presentation with the Princeton Review about applying to law school. An expert spoke about the application timeline, the importance of the LSAT, and information regarding the application process itself.

Students participated virtually and in person at WLH 211 (a free dinner with chicken nuggets, cauliflower nuggets, and fries from Garden Catering was provided).

Women Against Mass Incarceration letter-writing campaign
Advocacy, or Activism
Women Against Mass Incarceration plans to write a piece of legislation called the Primary Caretakers Bill for the next legislative session. The bill aims to produce alternatives to incarceration for primary caretakers of family members (i.e., children, ailing spouses, aging parents, and others) through community-based programs. Once this bill has been written and submitted to the state legislature, YULAA members will write letters to Connecticut state legislators urging them to support the bill.

Speaker event with Michael German, former FBI Special Agent and current Brennan Center fellow
Advocacy, or Activism
This event occurred on Tuesday, November 1 at 8 pm in LC 317 and on Zoom and was titled, "Combatting White Supremacist Terrorism." Michael German is a former FBI special agent and a current fellow with the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, as well as among the country's foremost experts on domestic terrorism, particularly white supremacist terror. A former policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. German is also a sixteen-year veteran of federal law enforcement. As an FBI special agent, he infiltrated white supremacist organizations before becoming a leading critic of the FBI's evolution into a secretive domestic intelligence agency. Mr. German is the author of "Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy" and has testified before the U.S. Senate and written publications including Time and The Guardian.

Ditch the Books
Advocacy, or Activism
On November 9 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, YULAA members took a one and a half hour break to hang out with other members at the Bass Library Lower Level and drink boba from Whale Tea.

Speaker event with Doug Jones, former Senator from Alabama
Advocacy, or Activism
This event was hosted in collaboration with Yale Dems and the Politic and titled, "Representing a Red State: A Conversation with Doug Jones." Senator Doug Jones leapt into the national political landscape by winning election to the US Senate from Alabama as a Democrat in 2017, but Jones had a long history of serving justice. As a US Attorney, Jones prosecuted in federal court the Klan members responsible for the infamous 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. In this conversation, we discussed Senator Jones' life and work advocating for justice, his experience on the campaign trail, and lessons learned from representing Alabama as a Democrat in the US Senate. The event was held on Tuesday, October 11th at 8:00 pm in LC 317 and on Zoom via this link: bit.ly/DemsDougJones.

Speaker event and letter-writing with Women Against Mass Incarceration
Advocacy, or Activism
On Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 7:00 PM in William L. Harkness Hall Room 211, YULAA hosted an event with Women Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI), a non-profit organization that serves women and communities impacted by the carceral system. The organization coordinates legislative advocacy as well as direct service work and empowers the lives of women in the Connecticut community.

We were excited to have Tiheba Bain, the founder of WAMI, and Mary Valdovinos, WAMI’s Operations Manager, to speak for the first half of our event. For the second half, we wrote holiday cards to incarcerated women and legislative advocacy letters to congress members. We served boba, so the event served as both a study break before finals and an avenue to make a difference in the community. The event happened was co-hosted by the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project.

Initiation Night
Advocacy, or Activism
YULAA hosted initiation night on Saturday, October 15 from 6 to 7:30 PM in the Dwight Hall Common Room and provided members with food, music, and fun! This Initiation was mandatory for new members of YULAA.

Paths in Pre-Law
Advocacy, or Activism
On March 7 at 7 pm in WLH 207, YULAA hosted Paths in Pre-Law, an exciting discussion about entering the field of law featuring esteemed YULAA alums. Those alums included Cameron Steger, former YULAA External President and Madison Singh, former YULAA Internal President.

End of Year Celebration
Advocacy, or Activism
On Friday, April 28 at 4 pm in WLH 116, YULAA hosted its End of Year Celebration with catering from Papa John's. The event served as a finals study break, an opportunity for members to socialize, and a venue for YULAA Board elections. All active members were invited to attend and vote.

YULAA Holiday Party
Advocacy, or Activism
On Sunday, December 11, 2022 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM in the Dwight Hall Common Room, YULAA hosted a holiday party open to all YULAA members. Members joined us for mocktails, cookies from Claire's, gingerbread house-building, and more and were encouraged to come wearing (ugly) holiday sweaters.

Ice Cream Social with Women Against Mass Incarceration
Advocacy, or Activism
On Tuesday, April 25 from 9:30 pm to 11:00 pm in Grace Hopper Common Room, YULAA welcomed one of our partner organizations, Women Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI), to campus for our Bulldog Days event! We hosted a late-night ice cream social with dessert from Ashley's.

Leaders and project leaders from WAMI were in attendance to speak about their experiences with YULAA. The event was intended for Bulldog Days attendees but was also open to all YULAA members.

Ban the Box in Higher Education Movement Teach-In
Advocacy, or Activism
This event occurred in partnership with the Justice Impact Alliance on November 15, 2022 at 7 pm in WLH 207.

Higher Education in CT continues to suffer from a lack of diversity. At Yale, which ranks as the "most diverse" university in the state, only 4% of students are Black and 9% Hispanic.

In stark contrast, Black and Brown people are overrepresented in the state carceral system, with Black people constituting 11% of state residents, but 41% of the incarcerated population, and Hispanic people making up 15% of state residents, but 25% of the incarcerated population.

Much of this is fueled by discriminatory questioning in college admissions. Recently, a number of states have pushed for Ban the Box in Higher Ed reform to eliminate this discrimination. Now, a group of formerly incarcerated leaders have teamed with student activists are pushing for CT to join the movement and Ban the Box in Higher Ed.

This teach-in event, hosted by Justice Impact Alliance (JIA) and National Justice Impact Bar Association (NJIBA) President, allowed participants to learn more about the Ban the Box Movement and how they can get involved.

Dieter Tejada is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Justice Impact Alliance (JIA), a national nonprofit that empowers impacted leaders and allies in the movement for justice to advance collaborative and transformative solutions to long standing issues of inequity and injustice through the legal system and beyond. Concurrently Dieter is the Founding President of the National Justice Impact Bar Association (NJIBA), the first justice impact led legal organization, and Co-Founder of the Justice Impact Network (JIN) a one stop shop digital justice platform, and National Policy Manager for the National Executive Council (NEC) at Columbia University's Center for Justice. Dieter was wrongfully convicted as a teenager and first committed to his life’s work while he was incarcerated. Dieter holds a Juris Doctorate JD from Vanderbilt University School of Law, and a BA in Political Science from University of Connecticut.

LSAT Strategy Session
Advocacy, or Activism
On Tuesday, April 11 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm, YULAA hosted an LSAT Strategy Session with The Princeton Review ideal for anyone interested in going to law school, wanting to learn more about the LSAT, or curious to try out some LSAT questions. We met in a virtual classroom with an expert instructor to delve into the content of the LSAT, look at sample questions, and learn helpful test-taking strategies.

Environmental Law and Policy Panels
Advocacy, or Activism
We invited Yale professors who specialize in environmental law and policy to come speak to Yale students about their work and their goals, provide opportunities for students to become involved in environmental law and policy, and answer students' questions about work in their given field. Speakers included Professor Bray and Professor Lovvorn who spoke about animal rights, Professor Elliott and Professor Cort who spoke about sustainability in law and business, and Professor Fenichel and Professor Gentry who spoke about connecting the environment and economic policy decisions.

Student Leaders:

Taylor Dallin - Coordinator/President Taylor Dallin - Coordinator/President Esther Dominguez - Coordinator/President Esther Dominguez - Coordinator/President

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