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CWSL Clinics Team Up to Talk Privacy and Social Media Issues at Local High School


“Everything went really smoothly. It was very interesting, and I loved it.”

That was just one of many positive comments from students at Hoover High School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood following a recent combined presentation from two of California Western’s clinics.

The Community Law Project (CLP), which already has a presence at the school with their weekly clinic, and New Media Rights (NMR) teamed up to conduct a media and privacy law presentation to the students.

CLP’s Outreach Coordinator Lizeth Cervantes opened the presentation with an introduction to CLP’s services, reminding students of the work CLP does and how that might help with legal problems they or their family may be facing.

Before the presentation, Cervantes, who brought the respective parties together, spent many hours working with the requesting teacher on issues to be addressed and the format that would work best for the students.

“Students in this day and age, especially those in high-need communities, face a multitude of challenges related to privacy and social media issues,” said CLP’s Executive Director Dana Sisitsky. “The Community Law Project was pleased to play a role in helping to educate close to 100 students on those important issues so that they can better understand how to keep themselves safe online.”

NMR Assistant Director Shaun Spalding and Staff Attorney Erika Lee spoke to three freshman classes about some of the laws that control deceptive advertising online and data collection, as well as how social media sites comply with these important laws.

Students were able to role play and thought about the different perspectives of the various parties involved in each real-world example of how these laws play out. In the role play, some students represented social media sites or video platforms, others the Federal Trade Commission, others big tech companies, and some the American public.

“Our goal was to engage with young students and get them thinking about important laws that impact how they interact with companies, social media platforms, and even each other while they're online,” said Lee. “It was also a fun way to introduce high schoolers to the profession of law and the different avenues of practice that are available in the field.”

The students even discussed how some artificial intelligence technologies learn from the content that people post online, and what type of privacy concerns are raised when technologies can collect personal information.

“It was inspiring to get students thinking about how artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and GPS tracking not only overlap with their lives but also is something in which lawyers could be involved along with researchers and engineers,” said Spalding.

Evaluating student feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive, Cervantes noted that there were possible lawyers in the audience as some students had wanted the presenters to delve into the law in more detail.

“Helping high-need communities and giving back is a huge part of California Western’s ethos and it is wonderful when two of our clinics can team up and provide these communities with practical knowledge and advice,” said Sisitsky.

But the true measure of this California Western collaboration was exemplified by the comment from one Hoover student who when asked if any improvements could be made to the presentation said:

“Everything was very interesting, so I would not improve it.”