Life Before Law School
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
- The Pennsylvania State University, 2018 | Philosophy and Spanish
Job: Staff Attorney, HIAS Pennsylvania
Program: Full-Time Day
After graduating from Penn State, I decided to serve as an AmeriCorps Legal Advocate in Boston, Massachusetts. I served in the Welfare Law Unit, and mainly worked with immigrant clients. Many of the immigrant clients I worked with were undocumented, but through my conversations with them, I began to see that they were actually eligible for immigration status. Most of these clients didn’t know about pathways to immigration status, and didn’t have the resources to pay for an attorney. They also faced many barriers because many had limited English proficiencies, were survivors of domestic violence, and had physical and mental health challenges. There weren’t enough public interest lawyers to represent all of these people, and many of the available attorneys did not speak Spanish. I wanted to use my experience and language skills to help people get status because I saw that without status many clients were living in constant fear of being deported. Our society needs to better fund public interest organizations so that people can receive benefits they are eligible for.
I did the Social Justice Lawyering Clinic and the Family Law Litigation Clinic. Both of these clinics were great experiences for exploring different areas of practice that I had interest in, but didn’t want to commit my summer internship to. I worked with one client for a whole year, and was able to develop a strong rapport with her. Even though progress on her case was slow because of the facts of the situation, it was really rewarding to discuss issues of racism within the child custody and child support system with the client. These experiences prepared me to think intentionally about how to discuss inequities in the justice system with my future clients.
Dean Ramji-Nogales, Professor Jen Lee, and Professor Sarah Katz were the most influential professors I have ever worked with. They were always willing to meet with me to discuss personal or professional topics, and helped to foster my passion for public interest work. They helped me navigate classes, fellowship applications, job applications, and clinic work. I am very grateful to have worked with these three amazing women and would highly recommend that any law students interested in public interest reach out to these professors as well as other professors, especially if you are interested in working in Philadelphia after graduation.
Advice from a Temple Law Grad
Do things that you love outside of law school and also do something that makes your life feel meaningful! Law school is a huge endeavor that can make you feel like what you are doing doesn’t matter. I volunteered with The Cat Collaborative during my last semester at Temple and even though cat rescue took up a lot of time, I felt more fulfilled and did fine in my classes. It’s easy to stop hanging out with your friends or doing fun things because of all the work you have to do, but I find that the people who found a balance were the students who performed the best.
Making a Difference
No matter what you want to do after law school, consider how you can make the world a better place and our justice system a more equitable system. Whether that means taking a staff attorney position at a public interest law firm, donating money to good causes, participating in protests or other social action, or doing pro bono work, we all have a role to play.