Sarah V. Connor LAW ’21

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA


  • New York University, 2015 | Applied Psychology

Job: Staff Attorney at South Jersey Legal Services

Program: Full-Time Day

Life at Temple Law

One of my favorite memories of law school came from my work with my first client in the Name Change Project, when I was a 1L and before I became a co-coordinator of the Project. Legal issues facing the transgender community have always been immensely important to me and were one of the things that motivated me to come to law school, but understanding and advocating for a cause abstractly is very different than getting involved in the real, immediate work. I will never forget when we successfully completed our client’s legal name change and met with him to deliver his decrees from the court. He was so, so happy, and I was happy not only to see HIM happy, but because I had just finished representing (successfully!) my first legal client. The partner I worked on that case with went on to become one of my best friends in the world, and we were on cloud nine, full of a sense of our own legal acumen and the pleasure of helping someone in a real, substantive way.

Experiential Learning

One of the main reasons I chose to attend Temple Law was the school’s emphasis on experiential learning, and I got a lot of benefit out of all of them. During my second year I participated in ITAP, which unsurprisingly was an excellent introduction to real-time lawyering. Even in a mock trial for a class, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a successful cross-examination of a troublesome witness. I participated in clinics in both the Temple Legal Aid Office and the Sheller Center for Social Justice, which allowed me to get hands-on direct service experience with clients, as well as experience with non-traditional legal research as I developed a CLE course.

I also participated in external experiences. For my final year in law school, I participated in Temple’s Federal Defender externship, where I conducted client intakes and assisted in crafting trial strategy for federal criminal cases. I also completed an independent practicum at Human Rights Campaign, where I was a McCleary Law Fellow. At HRC I researched local, state, and federal legislation pertaining to the needs and concerns of the LGBTQ+ community and helped draft public comments and testimony as a part of HRC’s response to events such as Supreme Court nominations and changes to federal regulations.

Faculty Impact

There have been so many faculty at Temple Law who have had an impact on my legal education and on me as a person – I won’t list them all, but I hope that they know who they are. I have to give a special shout-out to Professor Nancy Knauer. I first met Professor Knauer when I participated in the Law & Public Policy Program during my 1L summer. Professor Knauer not only supported me in seeking a summer internship in Washington, DC, she helped me craft my comprehensive policy paper on federal civil rights legislation, which has been foundational in my approach to the rest of my legal education. Professor Knauer also took me on as a research assistant and teaching assistant at different times, and she served as my faculty supervisor during my external practicum at Human Rights Campaign. Most of all, Professor Knauer has been a tremendously supportive mentor and guide through law school and now during my transition phase into my legal career. I am tremendously grateful to her for all she has done for me and for so many other Temple students.

Temple Law Lessons

Participation in student organizations was a huge and important part of my Temple Law experience. From my first year I was engaged in a number of organizations on campus, including the Student Public Interest Network, Outlaw, and the Temple chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and American Constitution Society.

I also participated in student-run pro bono opportunities, such as NLG’s Expungement Project, and the Name Change Project for low-income transgender clients, which I co-ran for two years. Finally, I was very involved in Temple’s Student Bar Association, serving as Secretary for the Board of Governors during my second year and as President of the SBA for my third year. Involvement in all of these organizations was very meaningful to me for several reasons. For one, as someone who joined the workforce for a few years before coming to law school, I was excited about the abundance of opportunities to be engaged with and make change in my community that comes with going to school.

I came to law school because I wanted to do real work for positive change, and many of these organizations enabled me to do that, whether assisting with fundraising for SPIN or Outlaw, working with real clients as part of the Expungement and Name Change Projects, or advocating for student needs and concerns as part of the Student Bar Association. I also formed some of my most cherished law school friendships in student organizations. You meet wonderful people in your 1L section and in your classes in law school, but it’s also really special to expand into organizations where students share your interests and values.