Employment and Labor Law

Employment and labor law is one of the fastest-changing and most varied areas of legal practice. Employment and labor lawyers practice in all types of settings, including large multinational law firms, as in-house counsel for all sizes of business, in government, in nonprofit organizations, and in solo and boutique law firm practice. Lawyers provide clients legal advice, they offer counsel on human relations management, and they handle litigation and all forms of dispute resolution for individuals, for groups, and for all types and size of organization. Employment and labor lawyers lobby for legal change, negotiate complex agreements, and draft regulations, legislation, and every type of legal document.  At UCI, students enjoy a wide array of opportunities to learn the law, to develop the legal skills necessary to practice at the highest level, and to find the many career paths in the labor and employment field.

Courses

UCI Law offers all the foundational courses for students interested in the law of the workplace, including Employment Law, Labor Law, Employment Discrimination Law, and Immigration Law. Students interested in the unique and complex labor issues in the entertainment industries can take Entertainment Law. Students can do capstone courses in the third year of law school to synthesize their knowledge of diverse bodies of law and hone the skills of fact investigation, contract drafting, counseling, negotiation, and oral and written advocacy that labor and employment lawyers need to have.  We also offer students a number of clinical opportunities with a significant or exclusive focus on the law of work, including the Immigrant Rights Clinic, the Fair Employment and Housing Clinic, and a Labor Law Practicum.

Hands-On Learning and Public Service

UCI Law students can gain real-world experience in employment and labor law through clinics and pro bono work beginning in the first year of law school.  In the Labor Law Practicum, Immigrant Rights Clinic, and Fair Employment and Housing Clinic, students represent individuals and labor organizations on an array of issues, including in administrative hearings seeking to collect unpaid wages, drafting legislation to improve working conditions, and in administrative proceedings to determine whether employees are victims of illegal discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, religion, or national origin.  Labor and employment-related pro bono projects involving UCI students have included Workers’ Rights Clinics in various Southern California counties, assisting veterans to obtain employment, advising nonprofit organizations on employment matters, and policy research and legal assistance on a wide array of issues, including youth employment, health insurance, occupational safety and health, obtaining work authorizations for immigrants, and many other topics.

Additional Opportunities

Students interested in the law of the workplace have many learning opportunities that go beyond coursework, clinics, and public service. UCI students do externships with the major state and federal labor enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  They have also worked during law school on cutting-edge matters for leading labor, employment, and civil rights lawyers.  They have researched and co-authored scholarly articles on labor and employment law topics with UCI faculty.  Through participation on the UC Irvine Law Review, they have organized and participated in symposia on labor law reform and have published work of the country’s leading labor and employment law scholars.  A variety of student organizations and reading groups focus on issues relevant to labor and employment, including the various identity-based organizations (all of which are open to all students regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and so on), and organizations focused on entertainment law, intellectual property, civil and human rights.  Students with demonstrated interest in the law of the workplace are encouraged to apply for a UCI Law scholarship focused on encouraging students to enter the labor and employment field.

UCI Law students may take courses in other schools and departments at UCI and receive academic credit toward the J.D. degree.  A wide array of courses across the campus may be professionally useful to the aspiring employment and labor lawyer, including, for example, Strategic Human Resources Management in the Merage School of Business, or graduate level courses in the School of Social Sciences, or the School of Social Ecology.