Passions for service and social justice are what have brought Angelica Mercado ’21
to Seton Hall Law to pursue a career in service to her community. Coming from a family
of public servants and being a native of Newark, Mercado has been actively engaged
in the community since childhood through community service and volunteering. Although
Mercado had pictured herself pursuing a political path, she eventually found her passion
with helping individuals directly, and saw the legal profession as a way to effectively
address many of the problems facing her community.
Mercado became involved early on with local advocacy and minimum wage campaigns, interning
with labor unions and organizing grassroots efforts to educate low-wage workers. From
there, she had the opportunity to work with a prominent, progressive New York public
affairs firm on behalf of national labor clients, giving her the opportunity to work
on projects like the “Fight for $15” minimum wage and “Ban the Box” campaigns. While
at the firm, she was able to witness the success of the $15 minimum wage efforts in
multiple cities on the West Coast, such as Los Angeles and Seattle, in Massachusetts
for home-care workers, and in New York for fast-food workers.
Mercado has also worked with the National League of Cities, researching and compiling
education resources for local municipal leaders on issues affecting their communities,
including urban planning and infrastructure, public health with special attention
to the opioid crisis, and educational inequity. Similarly, while at the National Council
of La Raza (now UnidosUS), she provided support on national projects and to small,
local nonprofits concerning prevalent issues in the Latino community, such as immigration
advocacy, job access, health, housing, and legal issues.
This past summer, Mercado was awarded a Public Interest Law Fellowship to intern with
Justice in Motion, a nonprofit that connects defenders throughout Central America
and Mexico to advocates in the United States who are navigating the complexities of
transnational litigation on behalf of migrant clients. She worked primarily on updating
the organization’s publication, Challenges in Transnational Litigation Manual: Representing
Absentee Migrant Workers in US Courts, and provided support on Legal Action projects,
such as facilitation between defenders outside of the United States and attorneys
in the US working on employment, civil rights, and immigration cases. Additionally,
Mercado was able to provide support on a family unification project between Justice
in Motion and the American Civil Liberties Union, using the defender network in Central
America to locate parents who had been deported and separated from their children.
Mercado is currently in her second year of a dual degree program, where she is a candidate
for a Juris Doctor and a Master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.
Next summer, she will be working with HIAS to assist refugees who are trying to rebuild
their lives. She is the Vice-President and the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Representative of the Latin American Law Students’ Association and sits on the Honor
Council Executive Board. She is an active volunteer with NJ LEEP, where she mentors
a Newark high school student throughout the year and helps the student prepare for
the program’s Constitutional Law debates each semester. Additionally, she translates
for Spanish-speaking clients at the Center for Social Justice.
Mercado’s experiences working with low-income and immigrant communities has driven
her towards interests in immigration and international human rights issues. She looks
forward to the clinical opportunities available through the CSJ and to involvement
in immigrants’ rights projects.