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    10.28.14 Students Publish Articles on Hot Legal Topics in the National Law Review
    The National Law Review

    What are the legal rights of unpaid interns in New York State and City? What limitations, if any, should be placed on donations to political campaigns? These are two hot legal topics at the moment, and two Brooklyn Law School students – Michael Grant ’15 and Andrew Smith ’15 have tackled them in work published in the National Law Review.

    Michael Grant ’15 has held a longstanding interest in constitutional law and campaign finance, and an internship with the New York Legal Assistance Group Public Benefits Practice during the summer after his 1L year inspired a passion for economic justice as well. During the spring 2014 semester, Grant was assigned a paper on the Supreme Court campaign finance case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the decision in which was pending at the time, for Professor Joel Gora’s First Amendment Seminar. With feedback from Professor Gora, Grant’s paper analyzed the briefs that had been submitted by the parties.

    Michael Grant '15 When the semester ended, Grant learned of the National Law Review’s Law Student Writing Competition and thought that his paper might make a good topic for the competition. By that point, McCutcheon had been decided, with the Court striking down aggregate contribution limits on First Amendment grounds. Grant edited his 45-page paper to under 10 pages, updated it to criticize the Court’s ruling, and submitted it to the competition. In May, Grant was notified that he had won the competition for the month of April 2014, and his paper, Buttering Bread: The Sordid Tale of Campaign Finance and Shaun McCutcheon, was published on the journal’s website later that month.

    “To me, campaign finance reform is important because campaign donations are the incentive system by which our politicians work,” said Grant. “If that incentive system is designed so that only wealthy individuals and interests are represented, and they run counter to public opinion, then you have to question whether we’re really in a democracy or in an oligarchy.” Grant will be part of the inaugural class of New York State’s Pro Bono Scholars Program this spring, spending his last law school semester working full-time at Legal Services NYC.

    Andrew Smith '15 While interning in the Labor & Employment practice at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP this fall, one of Andrew Smith’s ‘15 first assignments was to collaborate with his supervising attorneys to write a post for the firm’s blog about recent changes to the New York City and New York State human rights laws, both of which now explicitly bring interns under the laws’ protection. The legality of unpaid internships has been under intense debate in recent years, with former interns suing employers from Fox Searchlight Pictures to Charlie Rose for back pay. Also under debate has been whether unpaid interns are protected by New York City’s Human Rights Law and other federal, state, and local laws prohibiting harassment and discrimination.

    Several days later, the blog post was republished by the National Law Review. In addition to his internship at Sheppard Mullin, Smith has interned at a sports agency operated by the former General Manager of the New York Jets and at a plaintiff’s labor and employment firm. His interest in labor and employment issues was sparked during an internship with a federal judge during the summer after his 1L year, where he worked on a case involving age discrimination “I’m intrigued by the new and evolving federal and state legislation monitoring what employers can do to employees,” said Smith. “For example, the issue of making hiring and firing decisions based on employees’ use of social media is undergoing a lot of changes right now.” Following graduation, Smith hopes to pursue work in the labor and employment law field, and ideally in sports.