Students awarded prestigious labor law fellowships

June 2, 2023
Ates Serifsoy, right, and Connor Trapp
Photo credit: Matt Hagen

Two Seattle University School of Law students have been awarded prestigious fellowships by the Peggy Browning Fund, a Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to educating the next generation of workplace justice advocates.

Ates Serifsoy ’25 and Connor Trapp ’24 are two of just 105 law students nationwide to receive the fellowships. They will spend the summer working with Teamsters Local 117 in Tukwila, Washington, to advocate on behalf of the union chapter’s 17,000 represented members who work in public services, corrections and law enforcement, taxi and ride hail services, and the private sector.

“Ates and Connor are two of our brightest and most passionate students, and this tremendous opportunity provided by the Peggy Browning Fund will help nurture their passion to use the law to defend the rights of workers in our community,” said Dean Anthony E. Varona.

The Summer Fellowship Program, which lasts 10 weeks, provides stipends to first- and second-year law students to work to advance the cause of workers’ rights at labor-related organizations across the country. The goal is to help students gain practical skills to effectively represent workers. Opportunities to network with peers and leaders in public interest labor law add to their experiences.

The Peggy Browning Fund said in a statement: “These fellows are distinguished students who have not only excelled in law school but who have also demonstrated their commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, organizing, work, volunteer, and personal experiences.

“As the country continues to face unprecedented challenges to workers’ rights, the fight for workplace justice has never been more pressing. Labor needs lawyers and we are inspired by the passion and dedication this year’s fellows bring to the movement.”

Originally from South Florida, Serifsoy moved to Seattle following graduation from New College of Florida in 2014. Working at Planned Parenthood, she became heavily involved in her workplace union. In 2018, she began working at UFCW Local 3000 as a union representative, a contract enforcement specialist, and, most recently, a contract negotiator, where she helped thousands of workers collectively bargain for and win workplace improvements. Eager to better serve the labor movement, Serifsoy enrolled at Seattle U Law, where she currently serves on the board of Seattle University’s Labor and Employment Law Association and clerks for a worker-side labor law firm.

As a PBF Fellow, Serifsoy is excited to continue building towards an intersectional, worker-led global labor movement, which she believes is an integral step in creating a just and equitable future.

“Through my fellowship, I will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience and continue developing the skills I will need to support workers as an attorney,” Serifsoy said. “I am particularly excited to see the arbitration process from a legal perspective and to help make justice a reality for workers.”

While volunteering with an employment and housing non-profit in Los Angeles, Trapp worked directly with individuals at addiction rehabilitation centers to break cycles of poverty, addiction, homelessness, and incarceration. He also witnessed how many workers’ well-being was put at risk throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With his community-focused mindset, he felt compelled to become a lawyer, a career where he could counter the structural challenges that workers faced and advocate on their behalf. Following his clerkship at SEIU 1199NW, Trapp served as an executive board member for the Labor and Employment Association at Seattle U Law.

During his fellowship, Trapp said that he looks forward “to cultivating a comprehension of legal strategies employed by attorneys and absorbing invaluable insights through observation and mentorship. I am enthusiastic about gleaning knowledge from the department's wealth of experience, benefiting from expert guidance, and establishing connections with like-minded individuals dedicated to championing workers' rights.”

Established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, a prominent labor attorney and member of the National Labor Relations Board, the Peggy Browning Fund provides opportunities for law students to work for economic and social justice and increase their understanding of current issues facing workers while promoting their entry into the practice of public interest labor law.

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