Law School Builds Advocacy Skills for Third-Year Student

Law School Builds Advocacy Skills for Third-Year Student

Victor On-Sang Jr.
Victor On-Sang Jr.
by CATHARINE SKIPP
PHOTO BY JOSHUA PREZANT

Victor On-Sang Jr. is rooted in the North Miami working-class immigrant neighborhood where he grew up. He was exposed early to the complications of underserved communities navigating the unfamiliar terrain of life without the benefit of language or documentation.

He is the oldest of three; his parents fled Nicaragua during the Contra wars as 18 year olds. On-Sang realized the importance of legal assistance after understanding how the NACARA law provided a path for Nicaraguans and others to achieve permanent residency.

“Part of the motivation of going to law school was learning how Catholic Legal Services worked on my parents’ asylum,” he said. It birthed a desire to be of use to his community and others like it.

The 29 year old is on track to realize the goal when he graduates in May and uses his Miami Law education and legal experience combined with more than a decade of advocacy.

During the summer of his rising 3L year, On-Sang was a legal intern at the Movement Law Lab. The organization focused on building a sector of legal organizations and lawyers with the expertise and capacity to work alongside organized communities and progressive social movements. There, he engaged in multi-city support to tenant organizations/movement lawyers fighting evictions and for tenant protections, supported a design team of attorneys and organizers for a housing justice fellowship, and worked with movement lawyering training programs for large legal and human rights organizations around the world.

On-Sang also interned at the Miami office of the National Labor Relations Board, conducting unfair labor practice investigations by drafting affidavits and researching labor case law to determine whether parties breached the duty of fair representation and violations of protected concerted activity. As a legal intern and research assistant at Miami Law’s Health Rights Clinic, he represented clients with immigration issues, researched possible relief for first-time Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program applicants, and successfully obtained a Legal Permanent Residency with inadmissibility waivers for asylees.

At the Miami office of the Community Justice Project, On-Sang worked with staff attorneys in drafting documents for litigation challenging Florida’s anti-protest law, aimed at silencing public outcry in the wake of the George Floyd murder.

“The internships, externships, clinic work, and the Community Lawyering course with Alana Greer and Denise Ghartey from CJP have given me a more nuanced understanding of my postgraduate path,” he said.

While studying sociology at Florida International University, he began volunteering with outreach groups like the Dream Defenders, the advocacy group started in the wake of the killing of Treyvon Martin, focusing on organizing communities toward collective safety and cooperation and away from reliance on police and prisons.

The father of two small children set his sights on Miami Law, primarily because of its reputation and the urging of his wife and mother-in-law.

“They counseled me to apply, telling me I was smart, understood how to analyze complicated materials, apply critical thinking, and could do it,” he said. “I also was drawn to law school because I saw community lawyering and movement lawyering as an essential step to make a change.

“I was super surprised when I got to Miami at how helpful the administration was,” On-Sang said. “Dean Amy Perez [then director of Student Life] was one of the first people I really connected with and someone who made me feel very supported. I found that the students were friendly and helpful.”

“I want to do more direct services during my 3L year working at Legal Services of Greater Miami in the consumer unit,” he said. “I want to have the hard legal skills to better contribute as a movement lawyer in the future.

“My postgraduate goal would be to get into the community and economic development unit at Legal Services,” he said. “I want to develop competency and a mastery of transactional legal skills, so I am equipped to assist worker cooperatives, small businesses and nonprofits, and become very involved in the community.”

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