Fellowship Fuels Fight for Labor Justice


What fuels the fight for justice? For David Boehm, it began during his career as an automotive technician, which evolved into him becoming an educator, and then a union member. His passion now is to look out for the legal rights of employees everywhere, which is why he enrolled at Rutgers Law–Camden.

Boehm, a third-year student at Rutgers Law–Camden, has been selected for a prestigious and competitive fellowship from the Peggy Browning Fund to serve as a board agent at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Philadelphia this summer.

The California native had been interning part-time at the NLRB since January, but this fellowship has extended his work there through its 10-week summer program.

“Labor law has always been interesting to me and is an important aspect of the law, but it is being neglected in a lot of ways now,” says the Rutgers Law–Camden student, who is handling his own cases, investigating unfair labor practices, researching legal issues, and conducting secret ballot elections where workers decide if they wish to be represented by a union. “It’s becoming more of a part of history and less a part of peoples’ lives.”

Boehm is one of approximately 66 Peggy Browning Fellows who will spend their summers advancing the cause of workers’ rights by working for labor unions, worker centers, the U.S. Department of Labor, and other venues.

Coming to law school later in life, with a career as a mechanic under his belt, has given the Rutgers Law–Camden student a compelling vantage point as a student.

“I hadn’t been a full-time student in 10 years, so that was the biggest adjustment,” he says. “But going to a public school was important to me. Rutgers is a good fit. It’s a good cross section of students from diverse backgrounds, that’s one of the things I liked about it.”

Prior to law school, Boehm earned a B.A. from the National Labor College and completed online training through Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

During this past academic year at Rutgers Law, Boehm travelled to Rutgers Law–Newark for courses in labor law and the 13th Amendment. This fall, he will begin an externship with the U.S. Department of Labor, located in Cherry Hill.

When asked of any similarities between his professional life as a mechanic and an aspiring attorney, Boehm points out that both occupations involve dealing with people often during difficult circumstances.

“The sort of problem solving process is similar between the two careers. In each, you have to be methodical, not forget anything, go step by step,” he adds. “Both require that you apply rules and do things in a logical fashion. I’m not saying that being a mechanic and being a lawyer are at all the same, but they do require a similar frame of mind sometimes.”

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