Stanford Law Students Help Seventh-day Adventist
Jim Sonne, director of the Stanford Religious Liberty Clinic, spoke with NBC Bay Area's Stephanie Chuang about the law school's new Religious Liberty Clinic and the type of new skills it's teaching students.
The only day he couldn't work for his job was Saturday. The reason? Rick Pink of Sunnyvale is a Seventh-day Adventist.
"I don’t work on Saturdays," Pink said. "It's my Sabbath."
Pink was in need of a very specific kind of legal help. But legal help with the area of religious liberty isn't easy to find.
Jim Sonne is the director of the Religious Liberty Clinic, which allows Stanford law students to immerse themselves into taking on clients' cases as they would in the real world. The first quarter began last fall.
"On the religious liberty side, it's a new and creative way to teach those skills," Sonne said. "Also, as our culture diversifies, as government gets more involved in things, and people practice different faiths and work together, live together, there’s an increasing importance for lawyers to know how to navigate those waters."
"That's where I think you need first rate lawyers, lawyers coming out of places like Stanford, that can handle these thorny question," Sonne added. "You need lawyers who are sensitive and understand and can tell the stories particularly with religious practices that might seem obscure and strange to the mainstream. They deserve representation."
Sonne compared these cases to protection of the First Amendment. "Just like you would free speech case - you wouldn't necessarily support the message but you'd support the right of the person to speak."
Pink's case is expected to go to trial within a year. He said he's feeling confident. Regardless of the outcome, he thanked Sonne, the students, and the clinic for giving him back some faith in his future, helping him to move forward.