Former Douglass Fellows at the Human Trafficking Institute go on to join an amazing network of alumni working for justice as prosecutors, legal aid providers, educators, and more. Sarah Hamill is one of them. Making the goal of the Institute to equip the next generation of anti-trafficking leaders her own, she began teaching the innovative Anti-Trafficking Legislation Lab at Pepperdine Law with fellow adjunct professor Anna Goodman in 2020.
Over the course of the two-semester practicum, students learn the basics of human trafficking policy, form their own opinions on gaps in the legislation, and draft policy briefs to be used by professionals lobbying for better counter-trafficking measures. Under Hamill and Goodman’s instruction, students learn from key anti-trafficking leaders in California and eventually contribute their own ideas, aiming to help shape anti-trafficking legislation.
The first semester of the course lays a solid foundation of human trafficking and efforts to combat it, providing students with opportunities to hear from people with firsthand experience and expertise in the field, such as survivors and government leaders.
“We wanted them to have the most well-rounded view of anti-trafficking possible,” Goodman said. “And so we really did try to pick people from all the different sectors that interact with the victims, that interact with the perpetrators, and bring them in from all sides so they could formulate their own opinions…What are the approaches that we should be taking, and what are the issues that we see?”
The class provides value to students seeking careers in the anti-trafficking space and elsewhere. While absorbing information and lived experiences presented in the first half of the course, students explore the gaps and areas for improvement in the U.S. response to human trafficking, sharing their thoughts through topical op-eds. During the second semester of the course, students draft policy briefs and present them to coalitions lobbying for stronger anti-trafficking legislation.
Both Hamill and Goodman bring unique expertise and experience to the class. As a member of the 2018-19 Douglass Fellows cohort, Hamill completed several projects, including Trafficking Matters articles and an advocacy event at Pepperdine Law School featuring a conversation on labor trafficking and corporate accountability with the Institute’s Director of Government and Corporate Relations, Annick Febrey. Her passion for anti-trafficking work led her to her current positions as an Appellate Fellow at Horvitz & Levy LLP and an adjunct professor at Pepperdine Law.
While Hamill’s passion for anti-trafficking work started with an interest in combating forced labor, Goodman’s interested started with a passion for fighting sex trafficking, leading her to teach this course. She focused on sex crimes while working for District and U.S. Attorneys and chose Pepperdine Law because of her desire to enact social justice through the legal system. Coincidentally, Goodman also serves as an Appellate Fellow at Horvitz & Levy LLP alongside Hamill.
The students have been able to learn not only from Hamill and Goodman’s experience, but also from the experience of innovators in the field. Professionals and experts have provided wisdom and help, including an attorney who is auditing and participating in the class as well as a nurse and a doctor who have provided insights this semester on trafficking intervention in the medical field. Second-year and third-year law students are taking the course this semester, along with two interested undergraduate students. The diversity of experience among the participants and contributors speaks to the depth of instruction and application students receive.
“It’s become very collaborative outside of the law school…It’s been fantastic to see people from different walks of life, from different interests, from the medical field as well as the legal field, wanting to come together and make a difference,” Goodman said. “(The students have) just gone above and beyond and taken so much ownership of it,” Goodman said.
For some students, the relationships formed under Hamill and Goodman’s guidance as well as the opportunity for meaningful contribution to the movement against trafficking have helped clarify occupational aspirations. “We’ve had two students reach out and say…‘this class solidified what I want to do with my career,’” Hamill said.
Up next, we’ll feature op-eds written by some of Hamill and Goodman’s students on our sister site, Trafficking Matters. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss these special guest features.
To learn more about the Douglass Fellowship and apply to join the 2021-22 cohort, click here.