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2016 Public Interest Scholarship Competition

Ms. JD is pleased to announce the opening of our 2016 Summer Public Interest Scholarship Competition!

The winners of this year’s Public Interest Scholarship Competition will each receive a $500 scholarship to go towards their summer living expenses as they pursue careers in public interest law.  Ms. JD is thrilled to continue our annual support of women pursuing public interest careers, as part of our ongoing efforts to support mentoring and career development at home and abroad.

Women law students entering their second or third year at an accredited U.S. law school and working the summer of 2016 at least 35 hours per week for a minimum of 6 weeks at a government agency or nonprofit organization are eligible to apply.  Unpaid judicial externs also qualify for these scholarships.  Students need not have a placement at the time of their application, but must send an offer letter to Ms. JD by the beginning of the summer.

This year, applicants are asked to post their essays directly to the Ms. JD blog.  In 800 words or less, applicants should respond to the following prompt:

"Ms. JD is celebrating its tenth year of improving and supporting the experiences of women law students and lawyers. Explain how in the next ten years you will use your connections and education to support women in the law?"

Use your Ms. JD account to post your response to the blog.  If you do not yet have an account, register for one here: http://ms-jd.org/profile/register.

In addition to posting your essay directly to the blog, please send your essay and a resume as attachments to publicinterest@ms-jd.org.  Please include your name and Ms. JD account ID at the top of your attached essay.  We also ask that you provide us with information regarding your anticipated summer employer and any sources of summer funding you will be receiving.

Applications are due no later than Friday, May 27, 2016.

35 Comments

Stephanie Snow

By way of personal background, I was raised by a single mother on the south side of Chicago, attended St. Sabina Academy for elementary school, and then went on to graduate from Academy of Our Lady High School – an all-girl school – in 1994.  My experiences from childhood all the way throughout my time in law school have impressed upon me the importance of women mentors and revealed to me that I should seek to mentor other women who are following me on the path to becoming an attorney. I am convinced that my passion for the disenfranchised and ignored, along with the knowledge acquired so far in the disciplines of history and international affairs, will contribute to my continued success in law school and as I enter the practice of law next year as a public interest attorney.  My desire is to be an agent for global change – to bring justice to those whose voices are never heard.  After graduation, I plan to pursue a career as a civil rights or international human rights attorney at a non-profit legal organization or government entity. I believe that global change begins with making a difference in the local community. In the past, I have been privileged to act as a House Captain for Rebuilding Together, a nationwide program that rehabilitates and rebuilds houses in impoverished and disenfranchised communities in the Chicagoland area. Working as a team leader for fellow students, I assisted with the administration and organization of the house rehabilitation project for an impoverished woman in Harvey, Illinois.  The work with this program proved worthwhile, and further shed light on my strong commitment to change the world by helping people - one person or one family at a time.  I also volunteer with the Cook County Bar Association Foundation’s monthly legal clinic which is held on the south and west sides of Chicago, and am an active member in my faith community.  I am also a member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and the Black Women Lawyers Association, and have found the networking and relationship-building opportunities through these groups to be priceless throughout my time in law school. I expect this to continue once I become a member of the bar and hope to share what I have learned with other women. In the next ten years, I plan to use my J.D. and connections to further the cause of women both within the legal community and globally.  It is important that women are empowered to pursue the goals and dreams that they are passionate about seeing come to pass. I will take every opportunity to intentionally come alongside these women to provide support, advice, and encouragement throughout their journeys.  I also want to be an active alumnus at my law school in order to be a resource for the newest crops of female law students. I recently accepted an unpaid position with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and, as such, have resigned from my current full-time paid work.  Receiving the Summer 2016 Public Interest Scholarship would be extremely valuable in helping me cover costs this summer. 

vhemenway

I am a 2L at CUNY Law School and interested in the Ms. JD Scholarship Competition. This summer I will be interning with a judge in the Queens Family Court, Abuse and Neglect, for eight weeks. This semester I participated in a judicial writing internship with a judge in the Bronx Family Court, Abuse and Neglect. The judge provided invaluable feedback on the writing I did for her, commenting both on the details of my work and also pushing me to work on the broader approach to legal writing in general. I have been so impressed by the attention, rigor, and care she gives to the people before her and to the law, and so grateful that despite her overwhelming caseload and the often heart-wrenching substance of the cases, she has been kind and a true mentor. I aspire to do for others what she has done for me.
I came to CUNY Law wanting to practice Family Law. My first personal experience with the legal system was about six years ago when I went to Family Court in Manhattan to file petitions for temporary custody of my children and a temporary order of protection against my-then-husband, both of which I was awarded. While this was a success in some ways, it also kicked off years of disputes in both Family and Supreme Court, which continue to this day. Throughout my two years of law school I have had to appear in court multiple times because of child support, visitation, and other issues. I see Family Law as a way to help women and their families navigate the court and the emotional terrain of domestic lawsuits, both as an advocate on their side, and as a resource for women’s self-empowerment.
I love listening to people and hearing their stories. I want to both help and empower. As a single mother of two young girls, ages seven and nine, I want to be a strong role model as they approach their tween and teen years. Law school is a difficult and challenging experience, especially as an older student with two children, but I’m doing it and I want to let other women and mothers know they can do it, too. My professors and the judge I’ve interned with this semester in Family Court in the Bronx have shown me the value of mentorship, and in the next ten years and beyond I would love to be able to provide that support, feedback, and mentorship for women beginning their legal careers. Part of what I see as building connections between women in the legal profession is listening with compassion and finding ways to support each other. CUNY is a wonderful training ground for that kind of collaboration, as the whole ethos of the school is community-building and support rather than competition. One of my main professional goals is to develop long-lasting relationships of mutual support within the legal community.
  I also have a Master’s degree in Special and General Education and spent a number of years teaching in public schools. I’m interested in the intersection of education, family law, the criminal justice system, and other bureaucracies of poverty that become a vise around or a vast shadow over people’s lives.
It would be both an honor and a great financial support to receive this scholarship.

KATHLEEN CUNILIO

Between now and 2026, I hope to continue to build upon the foundation I have laid to support women in the law. During the course of my second year of law school at the University of Denver, I have begun to use both my connections and legal education to encourage the success of women in the legal field through two specific projects. First, my involvement with the Colorado Women’s Bar Association (“CWBA”) has been a fantastic stepping-stone in meeting practicing female attorneys in my home state of Colorado. This bar association was founded in 1978 and works to encourage women in the legal profession as well as advance the interests of women generally. Within this group, being a student member of the CWBA Public Policy Committee helps me stay involved in important legislation on the state level that will affect working women in the legal field. Notably, the Public Policy Committee advocates for, and even testifies before committees on bills related to the important issue of pay equity for women. I hope that my involvement in this type of policy work within the CWBA will support women in the law well into the future. The CWBA also has connected me to many women practitioners who I find inspiring. I have met some great mentors through their networking, workshops, and speaker events. I plan to maintain my membership with the CWBA well after law school graduation. One notable aspect of the CWBA is its willingness to sponsor student memberships as well as fund student member expenses for events. I think that CWBA’s commitment to including financially struggling law students like myself in this bar association and its great events is the first step in empowering females in the legal profession. Second, my leadership role this past year in my law school’s chapter of Ms. JD’s student arm - the National Women Law Students’ Organization (“NWLSO”) has already connected me to strong female law students and practitioners in Colorado. Specifically, last fall with my NWLSO chapter, I was able to put on a presentation on the Grit Project – a mission created by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. The Grit Project targets both female law students and lawyers to educate them about the science behind grit and growth mindset, two important traits that research has discovered a multitude of high-achieving female attorneys all commonly possess. For this event, three women attorneys of Denver came and spoke about their career experiences in facing obstacles in the legal profession by channeling these two traits. Their stories involved navigating difficult workplace situations, responding to negative feedback, and saying “no” when one is overwhelmed with the volume of her workload. By learning from failure and sharing important stories, these three panelists opened the eyes of my event’s attendees to what life is like as a practicing female attorney. The presentation involved a great dialogue that I hope empowered my female peers to tap into their grit and growth mindsets as they begin their legal careers. The importance of this event stems from my belief that there are problems with the legal field’s failure to promote and retain women. There is indeed a gender gap in high leadership levels among male and female attorneys in law firms, despite firms hiring men and women at roughly the same number for first-year associate positions. My goal in bringing the Grit Project to my law school was to acknowledge specific gender barrier and present ideas to counter them through a panel of women attorneys who have already faced these problems head on. By talking about these issues to aspiring attorneys early on, it may be easier to improve the professional experiences of rising female attorneys. Looking forward to ten years from now, I will have been a practicing attorney for (hopefully) nine years. In this next decade, I aspire to support women in the legal profession by continuing to advocate for legislation that empowers females in the law, including the issues of pay equality and universal paid maternity and paternity leave. By keeping women lawyers in the workforce, instead of having to choose between a fulfilling career and raising a family, women will be able to rise to top positions in the field. Further, ensuring that firms promote women at a rate equal to men is another issue that I want to focus on, which could be accomplished through establishing mentoring programs for female associates. In sum, I hope to return to my law school someday and discuss my education, connections, and experiences as a woman in the legal profession to instill in the next generation of female attorneys the sense that women can make partner as well as hold high offices in both the legislature and the judiciary.

anisays01

My generation grew up in a bubble where we sometimes forget that discrimination and inequality is real, and women had to fight for over 70 years just to attain the right to vote. We have to fight twice as hard to get the respect of men just because we are women. We are said to be pushy when we are assertive, or stuck up when a man is in turn praised for being confident. I am a 25 year old Hispanic woman and I am guilty of forgetting sometimes how difficult it is for a professional strong woman. I started working full time in local government approximately 2 years ago, that was when it hit me how much of a “boys club” organizations still are. There are 12 directors only 1 is a woman, I blessed enough to work directly for her. She has been an inspiration to me, showing me that a woman can be strong, assertive, charismatic, and manage with a kind heart while still emanating respect. When I first started working at the County I remember sitting in meetings with older men in suits, who had 20 titles behind their names and being horribly intimidated. Am I allowed to speak? Are my ideas good enough? Can I disagree? Even if I was shy and timid she saw something in me and trusted me to handle difficult situations making big decisions on my own, but all while knowing that she would be there to catch me if I fell. She inspires me to be the best version of myself every day and I try to be a little bit more like her in my own way. Now I have the confidence to speak my mind at meetings with executives, I’m not afraid to plan a 500 person event and lead it, or even having the courage to pursue a project that was shut down at first but with perseverance is now thriving.  All because she placed faith in me and I gained confidence from her. Through my job I have also been lucky enough to have the chance to become a change agent for affordable housing. Through speeches, events, work sessions, board meetings, media, etc., we have rallied the community to look at the lack of affordable housing and propose solutions. Encouraging individuals to voice their opinions, not only on social media, but also where the decisions are truly made, in front of community leaders. When we started this project so many people said to us, “wow, thank you for finally taking the initiative and doing something”, others went the opposite way saying, “Stop complaining, we all have to wait our turn and struggle when we are young”. That struck at me because I am just a regular person who had a small opportunity to speak up about a real problem. From there this has grown into a community project where commissioners are listening and leaders are looking for solutions, no longer is the answer “wait your turn”. Real people can impact real change. You don’t have to be wealthy, the President, or a genius, you simply have to have passion and perseverance (along with facts to corroborate your comments, ha-ha). Women in law have an opportunity to enact change and be activist for the problems in their communities. I hope that in the years to come I can continue to encourage others especially women to voice their opinions and know that it is possible to impact change. I have come to realize that we all have an innate desire to make the world better, especially those of us who love working in public service. But it all truly starts with ourselves, become the best version of yourself and you will then naturally touch the lives of others. Every day work towards being a little better and show kindness to those around you. Going forward, not just for the next 10 years, but for the rest of my life I want to do the same for those around me especially the women in my life. I aspire to promote unity among women, encourage professional development, and inspire confidence in others. As I have learned sometimes it simply takes one person giving you an opportunity and believing in you. Far too often we are in competition with each other over jealousy or gossip, but it is time to leave that behind and create an environment of growth and encouragement.

C_F_D

To start, I would like to congratulate Ms. JD on their tenth anniversary!  It is great to log on to the website and see successful women from across the country working and achieving in all facets of the legal field.  After completing my 1L year in May, I will be moving to Washington DC for the summer to intern for the United States House of Representatives.  Throughout middle school, high school, and college I joined organizations and was elected to leadership roles to represent and advocate for my peers, and with each position I held, I noticed a common theme- I was constantly surrounded by men.  The lack of young women in powerful leadership positions astounded me, and from the point of my realization forward, it has become my goal to help diminish this barrier and to join the fight for equality.  Eventually, I would like to enter into the political arena to continue to advocate and bring attention to women’s rights.  As of 2015, 104 of the 535 members of Congress were women.  In the next ten years, I hope to be using the connections and relationships that I will be establishing this summer, and in the future, to increase the number of women in Congress (and to hopefully be one of them!).  I hope that my legal education will have given me the foundation to join with other women and successfully have shrunk the gender pay gap; and to have helped establish a culture in which women have the choice and availability to access all jobs in workplace, healthcare centers that focus specifically on women’s health, and plain and simply, equality across the board.  I am so grateful to and proud of all the women who have come before me and all that the have achieved in the name of women’s rights.  This scholarship would help me tremendously, as the price of living in DC is very expensive.  Hopefully, in the future I will be able to give back to this organization so that other young women can have the opportunity to get out there and change the world!  Thank you for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship!

kmacrae

I am a 2L at the University of Maine School of Law and will be spending this summer at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Justice Division. My ultimate goal as an attorney is to combat anti-discrimination legislation that targets minority groups throughout the country, particularly transwomen of color and their experiences and contact with the criminal justice system. In the next ten years, my plan is to use my connections made throughout law school and during my public service career to help educate and support women in the law by mentoring and supporting access to educational opportunities, such as internships, in order to provide in-depth, hands-on experiential learning to law students. For instance, many LGBTQ students are marginalized throughout the country based on their sexual identity, orientation, or gender identity. In the next ten years, I would work to provide more opportunities for LGBTQ women during law school to meet with local attorneys to help law students learn how to navigate the legal career field where implicit bias and discrimination still occur, especially in the hiring process. These challenges are multiplied for women and for women of color who identify as members of the LGBTQ community. Over the last twenty years, although work still needs to be done to increase diversity amongst the LGBTQ representation, there has been a dramatic increase in visibility for LGBTQ women, but there is still a large discrepancy in the level of representation in the legal field. I believe that it is important to not only provide mentorship programming but to be a visible representation of the change and possibilities for LGBTQ women in law. Further, as a 2016 Ms. JD Fellowship Applicant, were I to be a Ms. JD fellow, I would use my mentorship and resources from the Ms. JD program and Conference to increase participation of LGBTQ women in the law, ensuring more robust access to and participation in similar mentorship programs across the country.

gemmad

In the next ten years, I plan to utilize my law degree to assist women in succeeding in the legal profession, as well as to leverage my education to help empower low-income women throughout the country. Throughout my academic, work, and volunteer experiences, I have witnessed the profound injustices low-income women face across the United States. I am passionate about public interest law, and I came to law school to engage in direct client services as well as in shaping law that fosters gender equity nationwide.
My experiences working in both direct services and policy advocacy solidified my commitment to social change work and led me to pursue public interest law focusing on gender inequality. While interning with Children’s HealthWatch, I interviewed low-income mothers who faced food insecurity, housing instability, and a constant tension to balance the daily needs of their children with trying to build long-term economic security. As an Emerson Hunger Fellow, I wrote and advocated for a statewide plan to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Idaho, a state in which the legislature is fairly hostile to the needs of struggling families. Following that fellowship, I was able to strengthen my advocacy skills for social justice while at the California Association of Food Banks. I also began working with the Women’s Foundation of California, and had the opportunity to collaborate with a broad coalition working on providing diapers to low-income mothers. Most recently as the Community Office Program Manager with the Riley Center, I offered support to domestic violence survivors and educated the larger community around violence prevention. Though I did not initially consider becoming a lawyer, working with the incredible survivors I met pushed me to pursue law school so as to improve my capability to be an advocate for clients and for systemic policy change.
    At Stanford, I appreciate that I have been able to learn about, and engage with, public interest law throughout my first year. I am on the conference board for Shaking the Foundations, through which I am currently working on bringing public interest lawyers from throughout the country to Stanford this fall. As a member of Housing Pro Bono, I work with clients facing habitability and eviction issues, and I recently represented a family at a hearing for the first time. While it was disturbing to hear about the injustice this family had been living with, it was inspiring to work with such resilient parents seeking justice for other people in their community. This summer, I am looking forward to working on issues such as gender discrimination, access to healthcare, and LGBT rights with the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office. After law school, I plan to pursue both direct legal services and policy change to provide greater support and access to justice, particularly for low-income women.
    Women throughout the country experience gender discrimination and poverty, yet women in law school are often encouraged to pursue big law. Without minimizing that path, I think having more women in positions of leadership within the public interest community would enable public interest law to be more responsive to the needs and priorities of women. I would like to mentor female law students, particularly women of color and women from low-income backgrounds, to become public interest leaders over the next ten years. I believe that having more lawyerly leaders who truly understand the needs of marginalized communities is critical to those communities gaining a voice and power in the public discourse, in addition to ameliorating social inequities. Accordingly, I plan to be a resource to young women lawyers and law students, especially from historically marginalized communities, providing support and guidance on their path to becoming public interest leaders.
  I would love to work in solidarity with women experiencing injustice, as well as to engage with changing the legal system to better account for inequities and to provide meaningful opportunities to historically marginalized groups. I feel privileged to be a law student, and to have the chance to fight for social justice and gender equity through the legal system over the next ten years.

eflanag5

    Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was always “The West Wing.” I loved the show for many reasons, not the least of which was its portrayal of strong, intelligent women fighting for equality and empowerment while working in a male-dominated White House. One of the show’s most memorable scenes is a conversation between two staffers, one male and one female, about the Equal Rights Amendment. The female staffer says that she opposes the ERA because it is “a new amendment… declaring that I am equal under the law to a man. I am mortified to discover there’s reason to believe I wasn’t before.” Despite numerous laws granting equal rights to women, there still exists a significant gender gap in opportunities for employment advancement, pay, and a number of other areas. In the next ten years, I hope to contribute to closing the gender gap, not necessarily by advocating for new policies or new laws requiring equality, but by reminding anyone who will listen that equality should be the norm, and encouraging and supporting women seeking to achieve such equality with their male counterparts.
    Growing up, I was taught that women should be empowered, should be strong, and should have a seat at whatever table they want. I was also taught that these goals may be more difficult for women to achieve than men, and so I learned to work hard and constantly question societal norms in order to achieve my goals. This hard work helped me accomplish great things: a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, a Master’s in Social Work, and now one year away from a law degree, with several rewarding employment and volunteer opportunities along the way. Being just one year away from the probable end of my formal education, I have started thinking a lot about who I want to be once I finally finish school and go out into the world as an attorney/social worker hybrid looking to do something meaningful with all these years of school. My greatest strength is my ability to connect with people and to provide them with the advice and assistance they need to develop and achieve goals. I want to use this strength as an attorney, not only to work towards effective legal solutions for my clients, but also to empower clients and colleagues alike to challenge the status quo and reach for goals that they may feel are out of reach.
    During both graduate school and law school, I have had the opportunity to work in legal clinics that provide services to low-income young mothers. In these positions, I have been involved both in necessary legal advocacy and in finding resources and helping to develop social support networks. This is an amazing population to work with, as these women are so often people who have faced abuse, neglect, poverty, homelessness, and any number of other hardships, yet still are able to articulate clear, broad goals for their futures and for their children’s futures. If I am lucky enough to work with women like these in the future, I will base my philosophy on seeking to ensure that the women I work with recognize their power and their strength, and helping them find ways to use this strength to achieve their goals.
    As a young female soon-to-be attorney, I am going to be entering the legal profession with the opportunity either to accept or to challenge the status quo. While the percentage of female attorneys in the U.S. continues to increase each year, this is still a male-dominated profession. In such a competitive field, it would be easiest for me to focus on my career and on seeking opportunities for personal advancement and self-empowerment, which might help me, but would do little to advance opportunities for women generally. While I do plan to seek personal advancement throughout my career, I also want to work to help other women advance in the legal profession. In the next ten years, I plan to serve as a mentor to law students and younger attorneys, and will seek to help empower young female attorneys to figure out where they want to be and develop strategies for getting there. So often, the only thing holding women back is acceptance of a system that favors males and doesn’t make any systemic efforts for change. In the next ten years, I hope to help women challenge this system both to advance their own careers and to, in turn, work to help other female attorneys challenge the system so that all women in the law feel both strong and empowered.

niyarpearson

During my first year of law school, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, of Baltimore, Maryland, gave a speech to our incoming class. She told us that the legal profession was seventy percent male. There are many people who are looking for an oral advocate that can represent them. After hearing her speak, I was inspired to become an advocate for women in the legal profession. I plan to use my connections and education to support women in the law by becoming a role model for women who have come from families of domestic violence, by continuing my commitment to mentorship, and by serving as a representative for women in law firms by advocating for more women lawyers in the field. First, I plan to use my connections and education to support women from families of domestic violence. As a child, I witnessed my mother overcome a domestic violence relationship. I desired to protect my mother from her abusive relationship but at the time I did not have the resources available to help her. This desire sparked my interest in becoming an advocate for women who are in relationships of domestic violence. This was my first experience with an issue where the party involved did not have the power to advocate for themselves. I plan to be a resource for women in the legal profession and to be able to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Moreover, I plan to maintain my commitment to mentorship. I have been involved in youth development since I was thirteen years old. I helped co-found a young adult non-profit with my mom where we used modeling to build self-confidence in young men and women. I was the youth editor of the newsletter and organized the donations for the annual fashion shows. Since then, I have been involved with my church’s youth ministry as a volunteer leader. I helped organize our weekly meetings and events. I also helped teach weekly services. Youth development is also important to me. Currently, I am mentoring a young student who will be entering my law school in the fall. I plan on continuing my commitment to mentorship by becoming a mentor to women in the law. Finally, I plan to serve as a representative for women in law firms and to advocate for more women lawyers. I hope to address the representation gap in the legal profession of women lawyers. I plan to use my connections at Howard University School of Law and the women I have met in the legal profession to build a network of resources for women entering law school and the legal profession. It is my goal to advocate for more women lawyers in the profession. As legal professionals, we are asked to step in the role of our clients in order to promote social justice. It is not possible to advocate for those who cannot fight for themselves without providing them access to a diverse profession. Thus, it is my goal to advocate for more women lawyers to maximize the diversity of the legal profession. Ultimately, this diversity will allow lawyers to become better advocates for their clients.

Alizeh Bhojani

Have you ever had to play dumb, play up your femininity, or endure mansplaining because the man in question has influence over your career? During my first quarter of law school, I attended multiple meetings and events about navigating the legal profession as a woman. Susan Smith Blakely spoke at my school about the importance of mentorship and support while sharing some of the statistics and realities of being a woman in a largely male-dominated field. As my year went on, I kept attending such panels, and kept hearing about women trying to forge pathways in a fairly exclusive world that has been dominated by men for so long. One panelist mentioned that she pretended she didn’t understand how technology for her presentation worked in order to put the men in the room off their guard, and then destroyed them in negotiations later. Another woman mentioned how she wore loud colors in the courtroom when her client was certainly guilty in order to draw attention away from the weakness of her case. During mock trial or moot court competitions, I heard about my female colleagues being reprimanded for being too aggressive, too “bitchy” and getting inappropriate comments about their clothes. At the same time, I found a niche of wonderful, intelligent, and supportive women in law school who have helped me get through the last two years with at least a modicum of grace. We formed a bloc in classes where only men were speaking to raise our hands and contribute to conversations and advance diverse points of view. We commiserated on the challenges of law school, comforted each other when it all got to be too much, and celebrated when we kicked down doors we previously thought were permanently shut. We encouraged each other to take leadership positions in student organizations and try to make the law school a more inclusive place for women. For example, in February I spearheaded a panel on the role of women in the legal field on an international level and highlighted the amazing work of the women in some of the LL.M programs at the law school. I was able to use my network of friends to advertise the event, help me organize the logistics, and ensure the event was a huge success. I come from a family dominated by woman who constantly demand the best from me. My mother, her sisters, and my grandmother continually pushed all the women in my family to constantly strive for the best and always be educated. When we first moved to the United States from Pakistan, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer – but with the support of her sisters and the many other women in our local Muslim community, she maintained an optimistic outlook on life. She would get angry and frustrated, but she always rebounded. Her example guides my actions as well as I move forward in my life. I know I would not be here today were it not for the support of the strong and determined women in my family who gave me advice, but also allowed me room to grow and make my own mistakes. These experiences inform my dedication to making the legal field more inclusive and equitable for women. I plan to serve as a resource and work with other women lawyers to create communities and network where we can support each other. I serve as mentor for incoming 1Ls through the Women’s Law Caucus at my school, and am a sounding board for many of my colleagues who simply want to vent. Ultimately, I would like to contribute to creating an environment where women feel respected and empowered to speak. This summer I will be interning at the Center for Reproductive Rights in an unpaid internship, and this scholarship would help me defray some of the expenses of living in New York City. My internship itself will focus on helping women gain greater access to choice, and I am looking forward to working in an environment focused on issues of equity, women’s rights, and human rights. I hope the experience will help me gain perspectives and tools on how to become a better advocate for women, both in the workplace and in society generally.

hsanchezperry

It’s hard enough to be a woman in a male-dominated profession.  Harder still is the intersection of being a woman of color in a male-dominated profession.  In the past ten years, the legal field has shifted, becoming more accepting, and creating more safe spaces to learn and grow.  As we look forward to the next ten years, however, we still have an incredible challenge to make the legal profession a truly diverse and well-supported experience for women and trans-women who wish to pursue the law as a career. “A legal education is a privilege.”  We hear these words over and over as law students, yet do we apply those words when we get into practice?  The law is still largely inaccessible to many people, and without the understanding of the way our laws work, the legal profession itself remains stagnant—growing ever so slowly to accept more diverse populations, especially women of diverse backgrounds. This year, I was involved with the Illinois Latino Law Forum, a day-long experience for Junior High through College aged Latin@ students to experience mock classes, see a moot court or mock trial demonstration, speak to law school admissions staff, ask real questions about the LSAT, the law school experience, and post-bar practice.  I spoke with several young Latinas who, like me at their age, had never imagined the possibility of college, much less of law school.  Using connections and education to support women in the law is valuable at every stage.  But I want to use mine to impact women at a time when they are considering their future options.  By making the law accessible, through programs like the Illinois Latino Law Forum or other community law organizations, we are acting as liaisons between the current legal field and the thousands of diverse and creative female thinkers that can and will continue to choose law as a profession. One of the most important things that I have learned in my two years of law school is how important it is to be an example for other women.  I went to college because a strong woman I know showed me that I could do it.  I plan to continue to be that for others and in the next ten years, I know I will see a great increase in the amount of women of color in the legal profession. Since my 1L summer, I have been a Civil Rights Legal Intern at Equip for Equality, the independent and federally mandated watchdog for people with mental and physical disabilities in the state of Illinois.  I am continuing as a full time intern for this 2L summer and am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from other strong women about an area of law often overlooked and largely understaffed.  I work with mostly female attorneys who are selfless advocates and who inspire me to be intentional with each client.  A legal education is a privilege, and the female attorneys with whom I work live and practice with this in mind, continuously acting as a model of encouragement and support—values I will carry with me and continue to pass on to others.

natasha_m_galvez

I intend to use the connections I have cultivated during my time at UC Berkeley School of Law, through campus organizations, previous employment, and the ABA, to continue my work in furtherance of women in the law. This past school year, I had the pleasure of serving as the ABA Law Student Division liaison to the Commission on Women in the Profession. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Commission, and I was fortunate to have been invited to extend my liaison position through my third and final year of law school.
I have worked with the Commission to reach a broader target audience for its publications, I have participated in ABA law student webinars to encourage use of the Commission’s toolkits within student organizations, and I have interviewed inspirational women attorneys, focusing on questions that are pertinent to law students, and published profiles of these women on the ABA website. While this will be my last year working with the Commission as a law student liaison, I hope to maintain an active role in the Commission in some capacity after graduation.
In addition to working toward the advancement of women in the legal profession generally, I would like to focus on, and be a resource for, two particular subsections of women: women of color and first generation professional women. As both a woman of color and a first generation professional, myself, I know the tremendous value of mentorship and guidance from similarly situated women attorneys who faced the same obstacles.
I am part of Berkeley Law’s student organization, First Generation Professionals (FGP), which pairs students with Berkeley alum that have successfully built careers in our respective fields of interest. For law students with no personal connections in the legal world, it can be intimidating to speak with established attorneys, both during interviews and in more casual networking settings. The networking events hosted by FGP have been extremely helpful in breaking down those seemingly insurmountable social barriers between attorneys and students.
It has also been helpful to hear about the experiences of attorneys who were the first in their families to pursue a career in the law, as well as to have a safe space in which students can relate their concerns about building their own careers. Additionally, having an FGP mentor to personally call upon for advice about interviewing and the job search has been an invaluable resource. Accordingly, I intend to dedicate a portion of my time to providing mentorship to first generation law students, and women in particular, in order to provide the same guidance that has helped me to navigate through law school and building a career.
During my time in law school, I have also been active within the Boalt Hall Women’s Association (BHWA). As a first-year student, I attended many of the meetings and programs that BHWA organized, many of which consisted of panels of women attorneys who came to share their experiences working in a diverse range of sectors of the law. These events were incredibly helpful during my first year, as the panelists gave very valuable and pragmatic advice. Once I become a practicing attorney, myself, I intend to take as many opportunities to participate in these panels as possible, because they are extremely beneficial to women law students.
It was also during my first year of law school that I became aware of the difficulty that many women of color experience in feeling torn between their gender and their race. As a mixed-race woman of color, it is important to me to build a women’s movement that is inclusive of women of color, while at the same time, acknowledging that women of color navigate a unique cross-section of gender and race and thus, have a particular set of needs that need to be addressed, in addition to the needs that are common to all women professionals.
During my first year at Berkeley Law, I was a member of both BHWA and the Women of Color Collective (WOCC). A commonly voiced concern among WOCC members was that BHWA was not representative of women of color. In response to this concern, I spearheaded the creation of the “Diversity Chair” position for BHWA, and subsequently took on this role in order to actively foster diversity. BHWA and WOCC have since collaborated on various joint projects, and I have sought to ensure that we address issues pertinent to women of color, and that we include guest speakers and panelists from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds.
I plan to continue participating in both general women’s organizations, as well as organizations for women of color. I hope to promote a symbiotic exchange of ideas between these groups, and to encourage inclusiveness and collaboration in working toward our shared goal of equality in the workplace and the world.

stepaniehuang1

In many law firms, we mainly see male attorneys with higher authority. We see this so much that we are conditioned to think of a male at the sound of the word, “lawyer.” When I was seeking my first job as a legal assistant, every single attorney-interviewer that I met with was a man. Although quite discouraging, I can honestly say that I expected it. At the time, I did not give it much thought, and sadly, just accepted the disparity as it was. My perception of the male-dominated field of law all changed when I joined the self-help center inside the court. For the first time, I was able to witness women in law dominating over the stereotypical male attorney field. The women worked together and empowered one another to create a greater community and to become stronger as female attorneys while assisting mainly female pro per litigants with cases involving domestic violence and dissolution of marriage.  In the next ten years, I plan to devote myself to attain a similar position in the field of law, to work with other female attorneys to assist the community of domestic violence victims and others who cannot otherwise afford to seek help. With the tight-knit connections I’ve developed with the staff attorneys, paralegals, and clerks of the self-help center, I am confident that I will one day achieve as much as they have and use my connections and experiences as a stepping stone to work for a non-profit organization that nurtures women in law. While we as attorneys are empowering each other as female attorneys, we can simultaneously empower the general public of female victims who suffer from domestic abuse and similar cases. It may still be a man’s world, but together, us women can achieve the same respect and recognition as our male peers. We must encourage and empower our women to overcome the perception that an attorney or any position of power must be male. We must encourage the female community to join the field of law and be confident that they will be taken just as seriously as our male peers. We must break the feeling of intimidation, and guide our young women so that they will have the confidence to work side-by-side with both genders of this male dominated field and understand that even as women, we can make a difference, and we can achieve a position of power without being doubted.

Christine Bannan

Over the next ten years I intend to support women law students and lawyers by serving as a mentor and encouraging women to explore opportunities in practice areas relating to technology. I am very interested in technology and am pursuing a career in intellectual property and data privacy law. The dearth of women in tech is a huge problem that I intend to help address throughout the course of my career. Girls generally are not encouraged to pursue their interests in STEM. This lack of encouragement, combined with the stereotype that women are not as naturally talented as men in STEM fields, has caused a gender gap in technology. Growing up, I always preferred my English and foreign language classes to my math and science classes. I was a Classics major (Latin and Ancient Greek) in college, and never expected to pursue a career related to technology until a professor encouraged me to do digital humanities research. I was apprehensive because it involved learning to code, and I did not think I was tech savvy enough. But I found that learning programming languages has a lot in common with learning foreign languages, which I had always enjoyed. Many women lack the self-confidence to pursue opportunities in technology. I want to encourage women to step out of their comfort zones and explore tech, as my professor did for me. I can share my own story to show women that they do not need to be intimidated by technological practice areas, and will not miss out on exciting legal fields. It is a common misconception that all intellectual property attorneys must have an engineering or science background, when in fact, this is only required for patent prosecutors who must pass the patent bar. Lawyers without technical degrees can still be patent litigators, and can practice all areas of copyright and trademark law. I have held a leadership role in my law school’s Intellectual Property Law Society and this past fall I spoke on a panel discussing intellectual property careers, explaining the breadth of opportunities available to those without technical backgrounds. I intend to continue dispelling the myth that a STEM degree is required to practice intellectual property law, which often discourages women from taking intellectual property courses. My completion of Notre Dame Law School’s Program of Study in Intellectual Property and Technology Law will equip me with the education necessary to support women in the law. My summer internships at the Wikimedia Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation will equip me with connections I can use to help other women find opportunities they are passionate about. I am spending the summers after both my 1L and 2L years in San Francisco, which is the heart of the tech industry. Many tech companies in the Bay Area are seeking women employees to help close the gender gap, and over the next ten years I will be able to help connect women to such potential employers. As a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) and member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), I have access to professional networks, including a group called Women Leading Privacy, that I will use to support other women. An IAPP survey shows that there is not a gender pay gap for women privacy professionals, and I will encourage women to pursue the many opportunities in privacy law. Furthermore, I intend to become more involved in professional organizations that support women in tech, including Women in Security and Privacy (WISP) and Women in Technology International (WITI). I want to be a mentor to women over the next ten years and beyond, because I have benefited so greatly from the guidance my mentors have given me. It would be both an honor and a great financial relief to be awarded the Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship.    

JDC2017

  When she was asked when there would be enough women to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quipped, with precision, “When there are nine.” With her discourse and tenure, Justice Ginsburg quashed the perception that women are precluded from leading the highest court of a male-dominated profession.   Women in the law face surmounting challenges, as Justice Ginsburg highlights with her rhetoric about the woman on the Supreme Court. Still, the dedication of women who practice law is remarkable. Many of us join the profession embracing the challenges that come, not only from the practice of law, but also from the struggles for advancement. I am pursuing a public service career, with dedication to helping economically exposed communities in the area of labor law. My professional and personal goals remain similar, and in ten years, I hope to use my education, experience and connections to support women aim towards their highest aspirations. I stand as an advocate for women in the law because I understand how much collective action it will take to overcome profound professional marginalization.   I have struggled finding my place as an advocate, in the face of the daily difficulties I face as a Latina. My upbringing was wrought with impoverishment, and my immigrant parents gave me every dime they earned to ensure that I attended and graduated college. My mother labored two jobs, and my parents collectively invested their savings in my education. As the first and only one in my family to seek a law degree, I have also taken on intense hardships. I sacrifice study time in order to work two jobs to afford a semester’s tuition. And while I deliver outstanding recitations of case facts in class, little does anyone know that I read it while standing at the library’s copier for hours, scanning hundreds of pages of casebooks on reserve, because I do not have the funds to buy my own. The Public Interest Scholarship would help to greatly alleviate some of my expenses for the next and last year of my law study. The scholarship would mean so much to me.   Despite my adversities, a legal education for a woman whose first language was not English, is a powerful tool.  I further embrace the exceptional responsibility that my education will afford me to empower women leaders seeking to command the law profession. I am involved with powerful legal networks in New York, such as Cafecitos, and MetroLALSA. I am also involved with the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), as Student Region President of the Law Students Division. Each organization I am involved with, strives to support pro-feminist perspectives and diverse integration in the legal field. These organizations also connect women who empower other women by sharing opportunities.   This past year, I held a Vice President position with MetroLALSA, the largest Latin American law student organization across NY and NJ. I liaised between bar associations in New York City and the Latina/o law student community. I helped connect law students, especially women, with law mentors practicing in different areas of the law. This year, I also helped lead a comprehensive law conference at a renowned New York City law school. My role as student leader now, exemplifies the support I wish to continue to maintain for the next ten years and beyond.   It is the reality of this profession that, although women comprise of more than half of the law student body in American law schools, only a small percentage achieve partner status at law firms, or become high rank associates in nonprofits or public service. Yet, the force of us is tremendous. Women help women through innovative networks, and I have met esteemed mentors who have helped me develop my purpose and rise by way of it. My mentors have shown me the law through their experiences, and I have learned with their support and guidance. I aspire to do the same for others.   To shape the next ten years of advancement, we all need to continue elevating each other. During the next ten years, I will use my education and network to help diversify the law by promoting the advancement of women, so that our communities are well-represented in the courtroom. We are capable, as Justice Ginsburg has shown us, to reach higher, together. It is our responsibility to do so.   To end, I would be remiss if I did not highlight the juxtaposition of 2006. When the first female Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006, Justice Ginsburg remained the only woman on the nation’s highest court. The year that there was only one woman representing an esteemed voice in American jurisprudence, Ms. JD emerged as a leading vehicle for the voice of all women in the law. The tenure and significance of Ms. JD is not overlooked, and ten years’ time means progress in raising the status of women in the law, and just like Justice Ginsburg proclaimed, empowering women to become nine Justices of the nine.

Sara Hundt

In my elementary school, my classmates and I were told that we belonged to a community of caring in which members could trust and rely on one another. School administrators and professors stressed that within this community, students, staff and teachers should practice kindness and respect. Over the years, and in law school, I have maintained this idea that my peers and I in my respective environment belong to similar networks within which, core community values reign. With only one year down, I have seen the beauty and wonderful support that students share with each other in stressful situations, caring for co-members of the school community. In high pressure environments, having shoulders to lean on, minds with which to bounce ideas around, and smiles to engage in well-needed laughter breaks are key. Many of these were provided by my female peers, both deliberately through channels of supportive female environments, such as Ms. JD or the Boalt Hall Women’s Association at UC Berkeley School of Law, or indirectly, such as through casual conversations with inspiring female professors. I hope in the next ten years to pay forward this strength of connections, network, and community. As someone who enjoys the ripple effect that connecting like-minded individuals can spur, I see the importance of bridge-building amongst women in the law excites me. It reminds me how much can be achieved by simply listening to our peers and shared goals. I would use my connections and education predominantly to support and share ideas with others, both formally in counseling roles—as a mentor to peers and aspiring attorneys, or a board member on foundations and organizations such as Ms. JD and the National Association of Women Lawyers—and informally as a friend and de facto mentor to any woman who may seek my advice and input. I know that much can be achieved through someone believing in you. I also know that I have benefited from other women simply letting me brainstorm with them. Having a community motivates you and holds you responsible for your goals. I want to be part of a community that empowers other women to push themselves. One immediate way I hope to do this, besides mentoring, is through my leadership role in groups like the Boalt Hall Women’s Association, where I will head the Programming Committee along with one other classmate. I hope through my continued work in this group and commitment to create thought-provoking programming opportunities, law students will explore various career opportunities and gain vital links to influential and inspiring attorneys. Through conferences and events about public interest, criminal law, corporate law and all the fields in between, I hope to develop creative ways for meaningful career connections. Finally, I wish to invest in communities whose presence is currently underrepresented in the law. I want to work specifically with first-generation Spanish-speaking immigrants who may have an interest in law. It is important to help nurture the dream of a path of law from an earlier age. Through tutoring preparation for the LSAT, visiting after-school high school programs and working with local non-profits that support academic success, I would help young women realize their steps towards dream careers in law, or at the very least, show them it is a possibility. I would draw on my past career experiences, including my current internship at the Department of Justice’s Access to Justice office where I will work on legal and policy research related to indigent client civil and criminal defense. I see myself working on criminal justice and immigrant rights work through many avenues—such as a Public Defender, an impact litigator, public service official, and non-profit board member or founder. I hope to use my interconnected and varied perspective on careers to showcase these examples of the many turns legal careers can take.

moonyqi

Ten years ago, I was in the process of transferring from elementary to high school in Canada.  The transfer process was a trial of perseverance because my family decided to move to a different school district.  I was not prepared to leave all of my friends and the environment that I felt so comfortable in behind.  This was not the first time that situations like this happened to me.  In second grade, my family immigrated from China to Canada.  All I remember from that experience was that I was always left out when forming groups for class projects and ignored when I tried to communicate with my peers due to my language barrier.  The turning point for me was when I met my high school counselor. She saw the possibilities in me and encouraged me to improve myself. Even though she was my only ally, I knew that I was no longer fighting alone. Despite being ignored, I continued to reach out to my peers with the respect and enthusiasm that I hoped I would one day receive. More and more of my classmates started to notice me, and slowly I turned their indifference into acknowledgement and, eventually, understanding.  I also became more aware and empathetic of others adjusting to new environments and I frequently took the initiative to approach and befriend new students. With a stronger, well-earned appreciation for diversity, I started to take pride in my heritage and share my interests with others.  Most importantly, however, I developed friendships built on mutual respect and understanding of our unique multicultural backgrounds. At UCLA, I continued to involve myself with social outreach initiatives. I joined Amigos de UCLA to help immigrant students with English and homework. Having walked the difficult paths of immigration and learning English as a second language myself, I shared my stories with my tutees, while learning about their lives and families at the same time. I went on to join Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), offering financial services to low-income individuals. There, my close interactions with my clients and my work team made me see the kind of change I could make through the application of legal policy. My aspirations changed: I no longer just wanted to become a successful person; I wanted to be someone who could make a positive difference in my community. I became even more certain that law is what I want to do after I applied to the Volunteer Witness Program, where I was mentored by law students and lawyers at the UCLA School of Law. Under their guidance, I gained a personal understanding of the law school experience. I am passionate about engaging the varied skills that successful legal practice requires: the implementation of structured creativity, the thorough understanding of case precedents, and most importantly, the ability to solve other people’s problems through the application of knowledge.
Ten years gave me the time and opportunity to blossom. Ten years ago, I never imagined that I would be in law school on the path of becoming a lawyer.  I would not have reached where I am now without the help and support from people around me.  Today, I truly appreciate all of the opportunities I have to interact with lawyers and various mentors to learn more about the legal field in law school.  I am especially inspired by the women lawyers and professors that I met; they are whom I envision myself to become in the next ten years.  I aspire to help other women reach their professional goals just like how they are helping me now.  I am honored to be the president of Boalt Hall Women’s Association for the next academic year.  As the president, I look forward to working with my colleagues to establish programs that will help our members succeed.  For example, I created the new Academic Co-Chairs position so that our organization can better assist 1Ls with their academics.  After graduation, I plan to join mentorship programs with my law school to pass on my knowledge and experience because I believe that by forming close and strong relationships with law students, I can help them reach their potentials.  In addition, I also look forward to participating in law school panels and providing mock interviews to women law students so that they can attain skills that will aid them in their professional development.

cmafnas671

Everyone has a story about the adversity they have overcome in order to get where they are today.  Here is mine: I was born and raised on the island of Guam to indigenous Chamoru parents who, what they could not provide in financial wealth, gave to me in love, courage, and persistence.  I attribute all my accomplishments so far to this tenacity. I have a fierce passion for immigration, human rights, and international law—my interests, perhaps, colored by my migration experience of moving from Guam to the mainland U.S.  Also, for the romantics out there, from the blood memories derived from my ancestors who navigated the Pacific by stars.  I am fascinated by people, mobility, and how we all interact in the grand scheme of things.  Two of my long-term dreams are to work with the United States Center for Immigration Services and the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.  So much media and social consciousness is focused on the enforcement side of immigration while very little is paid to the benefits side.  To help our country in it’s quest to provide people with safety and security in their chosen home will be one of life’s greatest joys for me.  With the U.S. Foreign Service, I could help promote U.S. foreign policy and international relations in the best light possible.  We are only as strong as our reputation and creating healthy relationships with our neighbors is essential.  Though I feel most law students do not have much time for pleasure reading, I admit sometimes I cheat and indulge in some of the more civilian fare I used to consume ravenously prior to becoming a 1L.  I came across a Forbes article entitled, “Women Helping Other Women?  Not so Much, it Seems,” which particularly disturbed me, as it described how women are psychologically, socially, and culturally influenced to compete and undermine each other, rather than support and mentor one another.  I want the next ten years of my life to be a testimony to restructuring this sentiment. Regardless of whether I live my dream with USCIS or DOS, I will use my education and connections to advance opportunities and create strong networks for women, both domestic and abroad.  I want to be a resource for women in the law and women who need access to legal representation.  As a devoted public servant, I know that it is a career path requiring an enormous amount of dedication and stamina—previous generations have been able to accomplish positive change but only by the power, energy, and endurance of people.  My humble goal is to be yet another voice, another option, another person adding to the cry for change and greater access to resources. Whatever the field, be it science, medicine, academics, the law—we need women in positions of authority and advancement.  We all bring our unique perspectives to the forefront and all ideas can enrich our environment in various ways.  Women have the ironic privilege of being part of a group of people that have not had social systems structured around them and we bring forth innovative, intelligent, and necessary ideas when we are given the chance.  The aforementioned fields are similar in that they are designed primarily by and for males; and while women have made significant strides in becoming researchers, doctors, professors, and lawyers—there is still much work to be done in making a work environment that includes lifestyles as diverse as the country we call home. Within this schema, what I bring to the table is another voice in the stream of creativity and perseverance.  Prior to coming to law school, I obtained a degree in Ethnic Studies and the connections I have made in the field taught me the importance of community work and grassroots activism.  Making and maintaining relationships with each other allows us to help each other in producing changes needed for a thriving population.  One particular mentor has served as my chief inspiration.  She is a community organizer who, it seemed, knows everyone and everything needed to get things done.  I would watch in amazement as she worked a crowd of public officials with the same grace and humor she did in more laid back settings like rallies or neighborhood events.  Most of all, I witnessed a version of what I wanted to be once I came into my own.  With my legal education and academic background, I want to serve as a mentor and confidante for other women.  I want us to unite and network with each other across professional fields and class lines.  We can help to raise each other up and serve as bridges and support, ensuring we all flourish and obtain the best life it is in us to achieve.

melissa_duchene

In ten years, I hope to be a veteran of the movement where women are no longer praised for working in law simply because they are a woman competing in a male dominated field. Instead, I envision a society where myself and fellow female lawyers will be looked up to equally for championing the interests of the underserved community.
Since high school, all I can remember is wanting to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. My goal to be a public defender stems from my passion to serve underprivileged defendants and those who have been falsely accused of a crime and cannot afford to defend themselves. This same passion spills over into my goal of supporting fellow female attorneys. I look back at the great strides made by prominent female leaders of the legal community and look forward to continuing to make those strides myself and assisting other women in theirs. 
At Chapman Law, I am fortunate enough to be a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board. On this board, I have competed in negotiations and mediations with law schools all throughout the country. These competitions have had an invaluable impact on my lawyering skills and have shown me how to best represent a client. In each of my competitions, I have brought back first place and semi-finalist awards. I plan to utilize these skills in my public interest work and then carry them further in helping female attorneys on their negotiation and mediation skills. Often times in law school, we are taught how to understand the law, but not necessarily how to practice it. I have found that these competitions are realistic settings where a student can engage their lawyering skills in ways that a traditional classroom do not.
The first place that I have been able to pass on my experiences is through my Pre-Law fraternity, a professional organization at Chapman University of which I am an alumna. For the first time in our fraternity’s history, we had an all female pledge class. Throughout their semester long initiation process, I was able to come in and speak with them about my law school experiences, the benefits of working in public interest law, and how to become a better lawyer by practicing healthy negotiation and mediation. I left those sessions hoping that I inspired them to be a female role model for other women considering the legal field as well. Overall, I feel extremely lucky to have been able to work with these young women and encourage the growth of females working in law. It is my hope that I can continue this work elsewhere and that it inspires other female attorneys to pass on their knowledge and experiences as well.

tayloregreenberg

I am often questioned by my life choices. Many have been unsuccessful at persuading me to venture down another path. After all, I am young, and I am a woman. So why would you ever find me in a county jail visitation room with a pregnant teen on a Saturday afternoon? Why would I be on the phone with abuse investigators for hours insisting they investigate a rape the night before my first law school Contracts exam? The answer to these questions is simple: I have an unreckonable force inside of my soul that propels me to help others in need, and oftentimes those people come from walks of life that are vastly different than my own.
I never thought I would be able to connect with the young woman who let her children live inside of a meth lab. I had no problem bonding with her four children that I was legally appointed to represent as their Guardian ad Litem. I loved her children, but there was always the stark and painfully penetrating reminder in the back of my mind that this woman who was a year younger than me would always be their mother, and she was what I would consider to be an awful person. I could never understand the horrors she put these children through, and I didn’t think I ever would until the first time I visited her in jail. She was eight months pregnant with her fourth child and had violated the terms of her probation. When I walked into the room and she saw me I thought she would turn around and leave. But for some reason, she sat down. To my surprise, after a few minutes of small talk she began to open up to me. She told me the darkest times of her own childhood and her plans for change in the future to make a better life for herself and her children. In those two hours we laughed, and we cried. There came a point where I looked into her eyes and thought, What if she had my mom who sang me lullabies when I was scared of the dark instead of the one who tied her up and locked her in a closet for hours on end? What if she had my dad who taught me how to ride a bike and told me to trust him even when I was afraid for him to let go instead of one who beat her to the point where she couldn’t stand because he was out of his mind and needed his fix? Maybe it really was a miracle she got this far in her own world. Most people would consider her a monster, but that day I looked into her eyes and saw nothing more than a child that never got the chance to grow. I realized that if I was appointed her case ten years before and if I was ten years older, she may have had a shot at a future other than this. But no one fought for this woman, and this was her reality. That day I decided I wanted to fight for women like her as an attorney before they got to the point she did.
One extremely valuable piece of information I have learned from advocating for those who have lived through trying circumstances is that in order to overcome adversity a person needs immense support. Women born into poverty with little resources have the odds stacked against them, purely due to circumstance. As a domestic violence victim advocate and as a Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children, I take immense pride in advocating for women.
The day my 15 year old Guardian ad Litem teenager called to tell me she was raped I spent the next three hours on the phone with attorneys, investigators, and police to make sure her accusations were taken seriously, even though many did not understand her standoffish demeanor because she had grown up in foster care and was distrustful of most people. I use my connections and my education every day to be the voice for young girls and women who feel as if their traumas and experiences don’t matter. I advocate for teens lost in the system, and I tell women who are victims of abuse that their stories matter and what happened to them wasn’t their fault, and it would be an honor for me to stand beside them when they go to court to ask for a protective order against their abuser.
Standing up for women and young girls everywhere in the legal realm through my connections and education is what makes me whole, and I plan to continue and expand my advocacy work in this field upon receiving my law degree.

csscott

    It seems as if my whole life I have been running into strong women, but few of these giants were lawyers. Most of them barely had formal educations. I was raised by a strong, confident, single mother, and when my absent father reappeared, it was with a loving, fiercely dedicated, and strong wife. My own mother told stories primarily around her share-cropping mother who raised 11 children sending them away at an age much too young in order to feed the mouths of the younger children coming in. Because of that unfortunately reality, I have a plethora of aunts and female cousins who helped raise my mother and, later, had a hand in my own up-bringing. It was not until one of these cousins went to college and then graduate school and then held a professional academic job that I was able to see beyond the cornfields of my mid-western hometown and into the boundless possibilities that my future might hold.
Fast-forward 40 years, and I have two wonderful, strong daughters and a bold, brave son of my own. I teach them daily lessons of feminism through my actions and words, and I hope to help them learn to continue to stand up for women in a world that reliably tells women to sit down. When my middle daughter entered high school and it became clear that we would need services for her exceptional needs, I found a fighting power that I did not realize I possessed. While I was already enrolled in law school and I already held a PhD from a previous tenure in graduate school, I could not navigate the system in order to best serve my daughter. I was not taken seriously, and I was always told to sit down.
    As soon as I had to opportunity to intern for the U.S. Department of Education this summer, I welcomed the challenge. My goal may seem counter-intuitive; I do not seek to learn information to help my daughter. She is gifted with parents and other support people who love her and will help her along her path. My goal is to seek information that will help me help other women like me. I want to know the law so I can teach it to other women in my profession, and I want to share with them a proper application of that law. I do not necessarily mean the nuts and bolts of the black letter law, but rather the people handling skills that are so often absent in settings where the law is being applied to families in desperate need. I was blocked in my efforts by both men and women. I frequently found that women in positions of power were often so uncomfortable in the role and so unsupported in their working environments that they themselves were struggling to navigate a system that seemed to be designed to undermine their efforts. I hope to combine my professional skills in the law with my hard-earned real life soft skills to mentor younger women in the law to really see their clients and their adversaries; to teach these young women lawyers that the law needs to be applied both judiciously and compassionately; and to lead women down the path of the largest trees in the forest – strong, but able to bend in the breeze to survive. 
  The law needs women in practice and on the bench. We need women like me who intend to practice for awhile then return to academia to teach the next generation of upcoming women lawyers. Until true parity is reached, until I no longer look into graduate classrooms and see fewer women at the highest levels, and until a female Supreme Court Justice is no longer worthy of a news headline, I will continue to use my education and training in the law to mentor young women lawyers, especially those like a younger me. Those girls who look out of their high school windows and cannot see possibilities are the most in need. I think it is important to start now exposing them to successful women in the law and other fields to open the windows and let them soar. 

kmclaurin18

Women should not have to chose between a career and her family. Over the past two decades, more women have entered the workplace more than ever, but we are leaving. We are leaving because we want to start a family, and cannot afford to do both. For a government that uses “family” as a platform for political gain, it does not support the working mom. There are of course, exceptions, those women who are able to balance their family, work, and yoga class. However, how many of those women receive equal pay or promotions compared to their male counterparts? Over the next ten years, we’ve got to continue to support one another. We should encourage and support women who want to have families, and fathers, who need to take time off work to pick their kid up from school, or to take them to the dentist office. We are no longer chained to our desks. When most of us communicate via email, does our client really care if that email is sent from the dentist office or from the office? A lot of private firms have already made modifications for the working mom, but what about our Assistant State Attorneys and Public Defenders? I have always wanted to be a prosecutor, but I also want to be a mom. Why should I have to chose? Our government should support those who not only want to contribute to society by seeking justice, but who also want to raise a family. I will continue fight for women who are committed to public service, but who also want to start a family by demanding policy change within our state and local bar associations. We should continue to talk about the disparities in equal pay and opportunity for women attorneys so that in ten years we will not have to have this conversation.

msinkovich

I was drawn to law school because of the opportunity to work with my community on important issues that impact our daily lives. I realized early on that it would be unlikely that I would ever work in corporate law but more likely civil rights or a busy legal aid worker. I was determined to go to law school after learning of female attorney Pauli Murray whose little known contributions to the civil rights and women’s movements greatly impacted the doctrine today. Although left out of the Brown v Board of Education historical recollection, other great women like Justice Ginsberg have cited her and named her as author of briefs even in the years past her death. Her passion to secure equality for all pulled me in the legal door. During the second term of my 1L year I volunteered at the United Community Housing Coalition of Detroit in the Tenant Clinic on the one day a week I did not have class. There I began to truly understand how public interest law works- you help clients in any way you can. From intake to new housing placement recommendations, public interest legal workers, who are so often female, are crucial to improving communities. This summer I am interning at the Legal Services of Eastern Michigan in Flint. After learning about the Flint Water Crisis and watching the community come together to demand justice for their families at countless protests and gatherings, I knew this was a place to start my shaping my future career. I contacted legal services to see if they needed an unpaid, experience- seeking intern to lend a helping hand and learn directly from other lawyers who are committed to bettering the community. I am getting a first-hand experience on the serious survival based legal work that low income communities desperately need. Not only has the city been seriously injured from the carelessness of the state of Michigan and other top officials when tending to the water needs of the population, but many of the clients are single mothers with children defending against manipulative landlords or abusive and inattentive spouses. While their problems may seem simple or procedural, the smallest wins can make a huge difference for a struggling family. After graduating from Kalamazoo College I returned to my hometown in Metro Detroit to settle back with my parents while I attempted to navigate this journey called law school. I was overwhelmed with the new opinions my neighbors had of me. Now that I am in law school they note how smart I must be, how much money I could make, how far I could climb up the legal latter. But this is not why I want to be a lawyer. As my first year at Wayne Law rounded out, one of my 1L classmates ran for and won the presidency of our women’s law caucus, she ran on a quote that highlights the attitude and mindset that we need to further the careers and opportunities for all women in the law and out, “Keep Calm and Empower Women”—-it really is as easy as that.   After my first year in law school and now venturing out into the legal workplace for the first time, I know I want to enlarge the population of like-minded individuals. As a woman, I know some of the hardest workers and fighters for justice are also women and our talents and abilities are always more effective combined. I want to use my knowledge and the connections that I am gaining every day to ensure the benefits of a greater number of progressive legal workers to the community and nation as a whole. I will encourage and assist women from law school to organizing in the field. In every social movement there have been progressive legal workers like the members of the National Lawyers Guild, who have stood strong beside and defended those waging righteous social and political revolution. Women have been historically disenfranchised, politically and socially.  Now, with more women than ever going to college and expressing our opinions, it is time for women in the legal sphere to push for greater change to unjust practices that affect all women but in particular women of color. Lawyers have the unique ability to protect and represent their communities. As I continue to grow in the legal world I will take the experiences I have and encourage others to use their talents for more than some occasional pro bono side work. Thank you for considering my application.

meredith_toole

Law school is a life changing and traumatic experience—professors restructure the way we think, we compete against our classmates for grades, and the track to employment appears daunting. The first year experience challenges even the most confident gunner. Consistently throughout my 1L year I worked alongside impressive women reaching and accomplishing their goals.  The friendships I built with my female classmates this year formed a support network that served as a source of encouragement and motivation amidst the competitive law school environment. The future success of women in the legal field begins with supporting one another in law school. Within the next ten years I plan to contribute the the success of other women in the legal field through my connections and education alongside my female colleagues. Prior to law school I pursued my undergraduate degree at a university with a 60% female-40% male ratio. This year, however, for the first time in my academic experience my classes were filled with more men than women. Many of my female classmates excelled within this challenging environment. Every woman law student or lawyer I met in class or through alumni events is passionate and committed to furthering the opportunities of women in the legal field. Supporting my classmates in their personal accomplishments created a community that likewise enabled me to reach my goals.  My initial plans to support women in the law begin with my first summer internship in Washington, D.C. This summer I am interning with the Federal Programs Branch at the Department of Justice. Throughout the summer I will establish important connections with women in my office and alumni in the D.C. area. Connections with successful women in government agencies, companies, organizations, and firms in D.C. will provide professional mentorship and guidance that I can later share with other women. When the fall semester begins I am confident that the group of women in my class will support one another as we take on new leadership positions and build relationships with new first year students. I plan to participate in mock trial competitions and pursue leadership positions in campus organizations. As Secretary of the Federalist Society and Vice President of Christian Legal Society I will support incoming women law students by sharing the connections I make this summer in my internship. Finally, I will focus my support of other women in the law through my membership in the Women Law Students Organization by mentoring new students in their adjustment to law school. I value supporting women both inside and outside of the legal community during my time in law school in Lexington, VA. Comfort Care Women’s Center provided an amazing volunteer opportunity throughout the spring semester. My experience included the opportunity to develop advocacy skills by empowering women to make choices based on a holistic approach towards care for their personal health and the health of their children. As I continue to serve at Comfort Care I plan to share my knowledge and experience with other women law students seeking to advocate for women’s and children’s rights. One of the greatest advantages of attending Washington and Lee University School of Law resides in alumni willing to share their experiences with current students. Within the next ten years as a practicing attorney, I plan to continue the tradition of strong alumni connections to support women law students at W&L. In my broader legal community I plan to support my colleagues and advocate for better programs that support maternity leave and equal advancement opportunities. Women bring a unique perspective to problem solving that particularly benefit clients and we all benefit from supporting one another in our personal endeavors. Encouraging colleagues and women law students through mentorship programs will further all women in the legal field. During the next ten years I am confident that more women will define success for themselves and achieve their goals in the legal field by supporting one another. 

elp01

First off, congratulations on reaching your ten-year anniversary! That is truly a great accomplishment. Unfortunately, growing up I had zero support in pursuing any career traditionally dominated by men. For example, I can vividly remember one of my grandfathers telling me that if I ever pursued a career in the medical field my brother could be a doctor but the most that I could be was a nurse. This lack of support continued when I expressed my desire to go to law school, which held me back from going after that dream for almost ten years. I want to be the support I never had for other women in the law. Therefore, in the next ten years I hope to use my connections and education to support women in the law in several ways. First, I am presently a member of Women in Law, a student organization that strives to increase the career, mentoring, and networking opportunities for all women at my law school. Second, I am currently attempting to become an academic support mentor at my law school. Being a part of this program would allow first year women law students to connect with me during weekly wrap up sessions where we would discuss issues like class preparation, note taking skills, case briefing, outlining, study habits, exam taking skills, etc. Moreover, I would be available to them for additional support outside of these weekly wrap up sessions via e-mail and phone. I think it would be very helpful for them to see that if a married mom of a two year old can successfully survive the first year of law school so can they. Third, after graduation I would like to become a mentor in a “flash” mentorship program at my law school called the Mustang Exchange. Being a part of this program would allow women law students to connect with me one-on-one for career conversations, law school guidance, cover letter review, mock interviewing, job shadowing, etc. I think it is very important for women law students to have successful women lawyers that they can look to for these sorts of things. Overall, thank you for providing us with this amazing opportunity!

whitney_tolar

I am excited to start my career as a lawyer as a part of a strong network of women attorneys, particularly public interest attorneys. Since I was an undergrad student hoping to apply to law school, I have interned at organizations that are run by women, staffed by women, and designed to serve women. Now that I am in law school, I have seen how powerful this network of attorneys can be, and I am looking forward to using the skills and connections I acquire in school and during my internships to continue supporting women and strengthening this network of female attorneys. Additionally, my mother, whose dream it was to attend law school, was denied the opportunity to do so because of her family’s adherence to traditional gender roles even though she was otherwise very qualified. Accordingly, much of my time as a law student so far has been guided by the knowledge that I have been afforded the opportunity to be part of this profession where other women have not been. I would love to utilize the connections I make as a law student and a young lawyer to motivate other young women to realize their dreams of going to school
When I was in college, I spent two summers at the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, which was founded by a female attorney and was staffed by two remarkable women, including a legal director and a survivor’s advocate. During this internship, I was inspired to apply to law school so I could continue working in nonprofit and pro-bono settings.
At Berkeley Law, I help run an anti-trafficking law project, where much of our work involves teaching lessons at the juvenile hall to help empower young women to realize their goals and to motivate them to spread awareness of the risk of child sex trafficking. My work with the anti-trafficking project has furthered my passion for empowering and supporting women and girls using my legal education. Our project is supervised and trained by women in a wide range of law careers, from pro bono directors to district attorneys to survivors’ advocates to public defenders. The members of our group (mostly young women) have also formed a great network of law students who are determined to raise awareness of child sex trafficking within our community at Berkeley Law and beyond.
This summer, I am working at the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland. I am now nearing the end of my first week of work, and so far I have been so impressed by all the women in the office, who have dedicated their careers to keeping women, children, and families safe. The cohesion between all the attorneys and advocates in the office is incredible, and I am already proud to be a part of such a supportive and cooperative work environment. I have also seen how connected the attorneys at FVLC are with attorneys at other legal entities, such as the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit, which has demonstrated to me the importance of strengthening and maintaining connections with other women in the profession. I am looking forward to the rest of my time at FVLC throughout this summer, and I am looking forward to continuing the relationships I form through this internship throughout my career.
Putting all the pieces of my legal experience so far together, it is clear how supportive women attorneys are of each other in this field of public interest law, and I am excited to say that I get to be a part of that now. Additionally, as almost all of my experience so far has been work that involves the protection, and empowerment of women in the community, continuing this tradition of support among my network of females seems even more important to me. I believe that how we relate to one another should reflect our work in the community.

laurenholler

I’ve always been very driven to learn about the world around me. My grandmother was a travel agent, and her voyages sent her all over the globe. She opened my eyes up to our diverse world at a young age, showing me that there is much to learn in life. My grandmother’s travels exposed me to the vast amounts of inequality that exist in our world. Prompted by my grandmother’s tales from her adventures around the world, growing up I developed an intellectual curiosity to gain exposure to people and ideas different from my own. I soon learned that women are not treated as equals to men in America and around the world, and I realized that I wanted to change that in whatever career path I took.
      My grandmother is a strong, independent woman and she is my role model. Women like my grandmother paved the way for my generation, changing the status quo and shifting stereotypes about woman. She left a small town in Pennsylvania with little to her name soon after she turned 18 with the hopes of starting a career and supporting herself in Cleveland, Ohio. Before she became a travel agent, my grandmother made a name for herself as a legal secretary for a Cleveland law firm. When I asked my grandmother why she became a legal secretary and how she became a legal secretary, my grandmother told me that she was always curious about the law, and that she knew what she wanted to do so she wasn’t afraid to go after it. She said, “I just went straight into the law firm with the utmost confidence, and I got the job.” My grandmother’s confidence and ability to shine in what was, at the time, a sea of men truly inspires me.
      My grandmother is certainly one influence in my life that inspired me to become a lawyer. I also come from a very service oriented family. Both of my parents have instilled in me the importance of being involved in your community and helping others. Growing up I noticed how involved my parents were in various aspects of our community. This idea of public service and making your community a better place that my parents instilled in me is something that I hold very near and dear. I believe as human beings we have a fundamental commitment to help those in need, but I also believe it is important to serve the people that you may see in your daily life in simple ways.
      The only legal career I can imagine myself having is a career in public interest through working for either the government or a nonprofit organization. To get a better understanding of nonprofit work, I applied for and was just accepted into the dual-degree Masters of Public Administration program. I want to tackle policy issues that affect us all; I am particularly passionate about income inequality, our criminal justice system, and family and juvenile law. The highlight of my first year of law school was volunteering with the Juvenile Court Child Support Project in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. I became involved with the clinic because I am interested in learning more about family law, and I was involved with Court Appointed Special Advocates during my time as an undergraduate student. At the last clinic of the semester I saw clients on my own, listening to their stories and taking accurate notes. While I only assisted one client at a time at the clinic, I believe programs like the Child Support Project are catalysts for change, bringing legal support to those that are in need, women in particular.
      Even though things have changed since my grandmother worked as a legal secretary, as I become more involved in the legal field I realize that pioneers like my grandmother are still needed to advance the position of women in the law. I plan to be part of that movement by having the same confidence that my grandmother had while pursuing a career in public interest law and by empowering women in need in my community. Currently in law school, I am involved with our Student Bar Association and Women Law Student Association. Through these areas of involvement I actively work as a woman leader in my law student community, and I hope to be a woman leader in my professional community ten years from now. We need more woman leaders in the legal field, and I aspire to be a role model for future generations of women in the law just as my grandmother is a role model.

LenaBrodsky

I am a firm believer in diversifying the legal field. The more women and people of color who practice law—in criminal law, corporate law, on the bench, and everywhere else—the better the law will do to solve problems and meet the needs of the people it aims to serve. In the next ten years I hope to continue to be committed to public service and ensuring that the law serves the needs of the people in our society who need it the most.  I hope to influence other women to enter the legal field, especially if they come from low-income backgrounds and have no family members who are lawyers, just like me, because these are barriers that women in the law can overcome. I have just completed my second-year of law school at the University of Washington School of Law. I am committed to a career in public service, and I am working in an unpaid public interest job this summer at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. While I have been in law school I have contributed to service-oriented student organizations and volunteered for pro bono programs. Upon graduation, I plan to serve the public in a criminal law position with a government agency. My interest in working with low-income communities comes from my personal background and my AmeriCorps service in Asheville, North Carolina. During my service, I developed close relationships with students who were struggling in school and at home. Many of the children I worked with while serving had difficult home lives. One student, Cara, had a particularly difficult life, even though she was only nine. Cara was in foster care and struggled socially and academically in school. Cara told me how she felt like her anger controlled her because her parents had abused and molested her as a toddler. Her story is one of the reasons why I came to law school to serve low-income communities and families in need. Unlike Cara, many children are still in abusive homes. We need the legal system to provide support for these children and families who need legal assistance. I think women in law are particularly suited to support children and families who are struggling. While I think women can and should enter any area of law that interests them, I think female lawyers do a great service to the community when they go into criminal law and family law. I accepted a position as a Rule 9 intern this summer with Seattle City Attorney’s Office because I would like to ensure justice for victims of crimes, and fair prosecution of offenders. I am not set on prosecution work, however, and would like to experience the system before I decide if public defense would be a better fit for my ideals. I am also working for the City Attorney’s Office because it provides programs specifically geared towards rehabilitation instead of punishment. I have been active in public service and leadership as a law student. I am currently co-President of Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington, (SYLAW), which promotes the rights of homeless individuals. Last summer I assisted survivors of domestic violence in my unpaid internship with King County Bar Association Family Law Mentor Program. I have been inspired while I have been in law school by strong women in the law. During my internship with the KCBA Family Law Mentor Program, I had the pleasure of working with my supervisor, Kimberly Todaro, who has dedicated her legal career to helping survivors of domestic violence with contested family law cases and mentoring other young family law attorneys do the same. During the next ten years, I hope I can work with aspiring female law students and young attorneys and support them as many of my female professors and internship supervisors have supported me.

amandasaber

Growing up, my grandmother always used to remind me, “the most valuable thing is your education. Pursue it with all your heart, and remember, no one can take your education away from you and you can use it to do anything.” I have followed this reminder my whole life, but it was not until I left for college that I really understood the power of my grandmother’s advice. I am the first female college graduate in my family. In my family, there have been generations of male family members who not only graduated from university, but also pursued careers in the medical and legal profession. However, it took until June 2015 for my family to have a female walk across the stage and receive her degree. It was at that moment that I understood the privilege and power of education. My grandmother never had the opportunity to pursue higher education, despite a college education being her lifelong dream. There I was, the first, but more importantly, certainly not the last. I had the opportunity to be a 1L representative for Santa Clara’s Women and Law organization, an organization I joined because of the mentoring program and its dedication of raising awareness of the legal, political, and social issues affecting women. The mentoring program pairs a first year with a second or third year student who helps the first year with learning study tips, assisting in the job search for the first summer, picking second year classes, but most importantly to cultivate support for each other. As a female in the legal profession, we must continually support fellow female colleagues. Men continue to dominate the legal profession, especially in the higher-level executive, management, and partner positions. Just as my mentor supported me this year, I am eager to mentor a first year student in the upcoming year. It is this chain of mentorship that cultivates the support necessary for women to advance in the legal profession and achieve those leadership positions. As the first year representative of Women and Law, I worked with the eternal vice president of the club to organize networking events and inviting speakers for lunchtime discussions, focusing on inviting esteemed and distinguished women in the legal profession. This year we had the honor of hosting California State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker during a lunchtime event. Of course, one of the questions asked at the conclusion of her talk was whether she had been treated any differently for being a woman and for leaving the profession for a few years to raise her child. Her answer was a candid yes. Many of her colleagues, would underestimate her abilities or in the worst scenarios would completely disregard her opinion. Hearing her answer made me discouraged. Discouraged that despite the incredible accomplishments achieved by women, women are still often ignored in the legal profession. I hope by the time Ms. JD celebrates its 20th birthday, stories like these will be the rarity rather than the norm for most female attorneys. The other reason I joined Women and Law was its devotion to serving women in the community. Every year, the student members coordinate and host a benefit in which 100 percent of the money raised supports a community organization focused on helping women. This year, the money raised supported Freedom House, a local nonprofit that works to create a new life for female survivors of human trafficking, by proving education, care, and a place to live to these women. The work I have done with Women and Law has humbled me and reminded me of how privileged I have been and how important it is for me to use my privilege to ensure the betterment of others. I am continuing in Women and Law’s leadership in the upcoming year as the secretary, using my role within the organization to continually strive to support women, both those in the legal profession and those who are not. In the year 2026 it is my goal to look back at the final two years of my legal education and my first decade of employment in the legal position and be proud of the work I have done to empower women, support fellow female colleagues, and enhance the livelihood of the thousands of women who so desperately need society’s help. My grandmother was correct: education is a powerful tool and I plan to use this tool to encourage women in law, just as my grandmother fiercely supported me.

myared

Nothing is more breathtaking than feminine excellence. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing a woman shatter every contour of the status quo and achieve the kind of greatness that pushes us one small step closer to gender equality. It is why we beam at the extraordinary work of Angela Merkel, Tory Burch, Meg Whitman, and Oprah Winfrey in a way that could never be induced by the achievements of yet another successful man. It is why I, like many women in this country, joined a sorority in college. It is why Black Twitter has flooded the internet with #blackgirlmagic. The electrifying determination amongst ambitious, young women is one that is so contagious, it can singlehandedly create the change our generation needs. The kind of change where successful women in every industry can stop being labeled as “the first woman to…” and our excellence is the expectation, not the exception. 
My strong belief in the resounding impact of women empowering each other stems from my experience working in international development. The organizations I worked for in Ethiopia and Ghana echoed the same message: “Empower the women, empower the village.” The key to a country’s economic growth was to provide women with opportunity because they were 10 times more likely than men to turn around and use what they’ve learned to help others in their community. Our village is the legal profession. How can an industry that is comprised of less than 30% women represent a population that is 50% women? Homogeneity is dangerous in any space, but particularly where greatness so often comes from those who bring a new perspective.
For the next ten years, I am committing myself to creating spaces that allow young women in law school to inspire each other not only within their own law schools, but on a national level. The success of such organizations is tried and true. I am an incoming 2L at the George Washington University Law School and if you ask anyone on campus about the two most prominent student organizations, they would name the Black Law Student Association and the LGBTQ Association (Lambda). When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, one of the most outstanding organizations on campus was Women in Business (WIB). Surely, this is no coincidence.  All of these organizations have created spaces where highly underrepresented students within an industry can empower each other to develop academically, professionally, and stay connected as they each pursue their own career paths.
Creating a national organization for women in law would allow smaller organizations the opportunity to make a greater impact while maximizing the use of resources. This spring, I had the honor of receiving a scholarship from the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association’s Women’s Committee. During the Women’s Committee’s Annual Tea, I could not help but be astounded by the passion and dedication of every attorney and judge in the room. A national association for women in law would help law students establish chapters at their respective law schools, while involving local bar associations as potential sponsors who could offer mentorship and networking opportunities. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but create an opportunity for women in law school to be supported by a national organization and foster relationships with local women’s bar associations who lack the bandwidth to do greater outreach.
Ten years ago—when the founders came together to create Ms. JD—the legal industry looked very different, and hopefully in ten more years, it will be even closer to resembling the population it represents. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the millennial generation. We have all the technology in the world to connect people and ideas in a way that has never been possible. It gives me the power to stay connected with people I’ve met through my non-profit work, international development work, and every stage of my budding legal career. As we continue to reach out to each other and join our networks, we get just a little bit closer to the powerful, national web of women in law that I can so clearly imagine. 

Megan

Growing up my family couldn’t afford to travel internationally. In order to satisfy my craving to learn more about the world, I would spend hours on end in the library reading about the places I longed to visit. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for my mother to come to pick me up only to find me with my eyes closed listening to some foreign language on a CD, trying to imitate the words I heard. I didn’t have a clue as to what I was saying, but it didn’t matter to me. I simply enjoyed the sound of a foreign tongue and the dream of being able to communicate with its speaker. It wasn’t until my final year of undergrad that I had the opportunity to go abroad for the first time. It was there I discovered my passion for social justice in an international context. Committed to learning more about global issues, I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, because of the Human Rights course of study offered and to work towards fluency in Spanish. In addition to my classes at the University of Buenos Aires, I interned at La Alameda, a non-governmental organization combatting slave labor of textile workers and forced prostitution. As an intern, I would collect many of the papelitos that covered the city’s center and logged the addresses and phone numbers to help our investigative team expose illegal brothel locations. Often times they would uncover a complicated web of corruption between criminals and government officials. The victims were almost always young women with little education and from poor families.

During my program’s summer break, I travelled to Trujillo, Peru, to work with Bruce Peru, a non-profit working to educate the youth in Trujillo’s poorest districts. It wasn’t uncommon for the older children to have to take care of younger siblings, although they were still very young themselves. Many of them had obligations to contribute to their families which came with a sacrifice to their education, as many couldn’t afford adequate school supplies or did not have the time to devote to their studies. A number of my students were young girls, under the age of 10 with responsibilities meant for someone far beyond their years. I have always known that I wanted a career that would allow me to help people, but it wasn’t until my experience abroad that I knew how I wanted to help. Each of the stories that impacted me the most had the common thread of social injustice that connected them to one another: whether it be poverty, lack of education, exploitation or some other form. Those most vulnerable to injustice were disproportionately women and young girls. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the fight against injustice which led me to apply to law school and ultimately pursue both my JD and Master’s degree in International Affairs in the joint degree program. I believed and still believe that I can help most by understanding the legal complexities and dynamics of the systems in place that fuel social inequality. In the next ten years I plan start my own international, non-profit organization focused on empowering women and young girls, specifically in the African, African- American and Latino communities. The goal of my organization will be to encourage the education and development of women as leaders in their communities by providing legal assistance and access to resources to support them in pursuing careers and education. Based on my own experiences of overcoming marginalization and adversity, I believe that I have much to offer them. As a woman of color, I understand the constant struggle of proving your worth and intellect in the face of racism and discrimination. As a woman who was the first in her family to earn a college degree, I can relate to the difficulties in accessing and pursing higher education. As woman who was abandoned by her husband and left to raise a beautiful baby girl on her own, I can identity with the emotional pain and struggle of balancing motherhood and other commitments while pursuing a career. Most of all, I can identify with the resilient spirit that comes with facing obstacle after obstacle and learning to overcome them. Although diversity in the legal field continues to grow year after year, I believe there is still a long way to go, especially in the field of international law. We need more women of different cultural backgrounds, life experiences, and upbringings to take leadership roles in international advocacy and dialogue. Not only will I use my education and personal experience to become a more effective advocate for the women I serve, but also use it as a platform to offer mentorship and guidance to future young women pursuing a legal education.

fzperezaucar

  The experiences of the women in my life are the reason why any success in my life has been attainable. Their strength, resilience and bravery are the characteristics that I have used as a model for my own life. My mother and grandmother are the women in my life I could not live without. Their advice, love and support is incredibly important. I hope to recreate the the same type of support for others, knowing that this was critical in my own success. 
  I model my life on women who although never attaining the financial success that they sought, have showed me the value of kindness and selflessness. They have showed me the value of life beyond material and what success can mean at all levels in society. My grandmother raised seven children on her own in Guatemala. She suffered from abuse as well as the violence which extends from growing up impoverished.  Despite it all, she managed to start a small business in which she would donate food to those who were still in dire circumstances.  Growing up, I heard stories of the ways in which many would seek her help. My mother had a different story of struggle. She grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Guatemala, but unfortunately also suffering from violence and abuse. Each show me the ways in which struggle is only a builder of resilience. They show me the ways in which their experiences serve as an inspiration, simply by living and not giving up.
    Both decided to eventually move to the United States. They left everything that they had and worked for, in the hopes of a good future for their children and grandchildren. Sadly, many of their experiences are very unique to women. Sadly, there is a generational violence which extends to myself and my own experiences. But fortunately in every generation there has been progression and hope. And with every sad story there is a story of individuals who have changed the world in their own way and through their own contributions.
The celebration of Ms. JD’s tenth anniversary, I’m sure contains countless stories of struggle which is unique the experiences of a woman. These experiences are further complicated by the acquisition of a law degree and the struggles that we face everyday as someone who is involved in this circle. We enter law school as a choice, and quickly realize how this becomes necessary in the progression of our lives and those who we inspire. Law school becomes one of our contributions and inspiration for future generations.
    In ten years’ time, I hope to use the resources and experiences that I attain to create connections and further the lives of those who’s experiences are very much like my own. Like the women in my life, I hope to be a support system for future generations, knowing that my struggle creates a pathway for those in the future. I have younger sisters who will have resources and options as I continue to work for a future for them. I have friends who reach out to me, asking for advice simply because they understand the struggles that I have endured. I continue to meet people in my life, both in and out of the legal field who are both inspirational and inspired. It is an incredible movement which begins with accepting that our lives as women are difficult but full of possibility.
    As a first year law student, I can already see the the power of my education. I continue to return to my hometown which continues to suffer from poverty. I seek advice from both my mother and grandmother who continue to struggle. But most importantly, I realize now, that I am a beacon of hope in these circles.  In ten years time, I see myself doing the same and at a much higher capacity. I thank organizations like Ms. JD for creating this conversations and pathways for someone like me to strive. Thank you for considering me for your scholarship and for reading my application.
  Sincerely,
    Faride

sstan

I want to work towards building a tomorrow where women and underrepresented communities continue to have opportunities to advance in the legal profession. Over the next ten years, I want to work towards making more opportunities for women in the legal field, breaking the glass ceiling, and giving back to the community. My experiences advocating around immigration and education issues in the Southeast Asian community provided me with opportunities to build a support network for historically underrepresented students in higher education, and I hope to continue this work in the legal profession. Specifically, I will continue to build on my education, broaden my network, and take advantage of opportunities in the legal field so that I can mentor law students and help women access more opportunities in the legal field.
Seeing my parents’ experiences as Cambodian refugees has continued to motivate me to help others, learn about the legal system, and advocate for underrepresented communities. I have a long-standing commitment to public service and have sought out ways to give back in all of my endeavors. At the University of California Davis, the number of Southeast Asian students who made it to college was low, and the number of students that graduated was even lower. During my first year at UC Davis, I had only met one other Cambodian person at school. With a class of over 5,500 freshmen, I felt isolated and worked to rebuild our Cambodian Student Association as well as work with other historically underrepresented groups to make resources, such as the Student Recruitment and Retention Center, more visible on campus. I worked with the Student Recruitment and Retention Center to establish and publicize programs that helped with recruitment and retention efforts of historically underrepresented groups at UC Davis so that we could reach out to more students. One of our projects was to make educational achievements of Southeast Asian students more visible so that students who were struggling academically could see that people within their community were able to graduate. I worked with a group of students to establish the first Southeast Asian Graduation ceremony at UC Davis in 2008, and this event is celebrating its ninth annual celebration this year.
As an attorney, I want to give back back by providing indigent clients with criminal defense services and I am taking steps to prepare myself for this type of work. Prior to attending law school, I volunteered with a Deputy Public Defender while working full-time as a paralegal in immigration. This summer I am interning with the Public Defender’s Office in San Francisco, California, and I will continue to gain hands on experience with indigent defense through the Criminal Defense Clinic at St. John’s University School of Law during the upcoming academic year. The Criminal Defense Clinic partners directly with a public defender’s program in Queens, New York. Through the clinic I will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of an attorney on misdemeanor cases. I will continue to build on my own knowledge in the legal field so that I can mentor other women law students interested in this field.
During my first year of law school, I have made efforts to broaden my network at St. Johns by joining St. John’s Coalition for Social Justice, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and Criminal Law Society. I was elected as the Secretary for the Coalition for Social Justice for the upcoming year. I ran for an executive board position with the Coalition because I want to work towards bridging the gap between underrepresented groups and the legal profession. Through this organization I want to work with our board to build a mentorship program as well as provide students with a platform so that we can address social justice issues on campus and in the community.
To take advantage of opportunities in the legal field, I have joined numerous bar association organization and applied for a mentorship program for minority law students in the New York area. I believe that mentorship and networking are essential for underrepresented communities to excel in the legal profession, and in the future I want to be able to give back as a mentor to other women. By taking opportunities to build on my education, broaden my network, and take advantage of opportunities in the legal field, I am equipping myself with resources to be able to mentor law students and help women access more opportunities in the legal field. I will build on my experiences of community building and apply this to creating more mentorship opportunities for future law students and women in the legal field.

tasha1595

“If I stand tall it is because I stand on the backs of those who came before me.” –Yoruba Proverb. This proverb resonates with me because it is a reminder of all the women, in particular African American women, who paved a way for me educationally and professionally. This quote is in appreciation of their sacrifice, commitment, and willingness to use their influence and connections that now allows me to attend the University of San Francisco (USF) generations later. Therefore, I have a moral obligation to continue paving the same path for the women in law that follow and to serve as a support system to the current women serving beside me. In the next ten years, I would like to use my education and connections to increase exposure to the law for low-income women of color and to support the longevity of women currently serving because our survival is vital to those who will come behind us. First, as an African American, first-generation college student, I initially had no major interest in law. I did not know any lawyers. I did not know any judges. I had no grave knowledge of our legal system except the fact many communities of color are often on the receiving side of unjust laws and policies. It was not until I served in the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program, that I was able to identify a correlation between low-income communities of color in Miami and state and federal laws. As I began to ask questions about why certain policies and laws were being enforced if they had a disproportionate impact on certain populations, my interest in law increased. However, as my legal interest grew, I noticed there was very limited opportunities to investigate the depth of my interest as an adult in the workforce. Without being a paralegal, which was training I did not have, or being an administrative assistant within a law firm, which did not involve much legal exposure or duties, it was very difficult for me to explore if law was the correct path. Luckily, I was able to be hired as a Child Support Officer for the Texas Office of the Attorney General, which allowed me to explore TX family law and work directly with attorneys and judges. It was the necessary exposure I needed to confirm an interest in law and to make a confident decision to apply for law school. Within the next ten years, I want to use my legal platform to create a program designed to target graduating college and university seniors and women in the workforce (with at least a BA) who are interested or curious about the law. I think the current process of entering law school neglects an entire market of young ladies who are not sure they will like being a lawyer because they lack exposure to the profession, or possibly making assumptions of the profession based on a TV drama, or are unaware of the many possibilities a J.D. degree can provide beyond litigation. Because I was raised in a single family household, I would fundraise for a livable stipend for program participants since so many low-income students, like myself, are torn between great legal experience and affordable opportunities. I truly believe through partnership building and collaborations with colleges/universities, nonprofits, and law firms, I can help increase the number of women of color that apply to law school and thus help diversify the legal profession. Second, I plan on joining and remaining involved in organizations that support and encourage the role of women in the law. I am currently a member of Law Students for Reproductive Rights, which trains and mobilizes law students and new lawyers across the country to foster legal expertise and support for the realization of reproductive justice. Additionally, I am the Director of Programming and Professional Development for USF’s Black Law Student Association, which has a mission to increase the number of culturally responsible Black and minority attorneys who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community. Within the next ten years, I plan to use my positions within similar organizations to elevate and advance women’s health and the influence of Black and minority women lawyers. Within ten years and beyond, I hope my work as a law student and a career as a public servant, contributes to the final deconstruction of the politicized female body and possibly lead to the first Black woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court. My vision of the future of women in law is grand and limitless, as it should be, since I stand on the backs of women who dared to dreamed for the rights and privileges I have today.

Priyanka Verma

In the next ten years, I will use my connections and education to support women in the law by sharing my experience with those who want to pursue a career in law, especially in the area of Child and Family Advocacy. I have accumulated a number of connections as a volunteer and as a legal intern. I am a Student Advocate and Coordinator with the Courtroom Advocates project, where students have an opportunity to advocate for victims of domestic violence in Family Court. I am also a volunteer with Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT), were I provide legal information to unrepresented litigants to assist them in navigating the NY Family Courts through the email hotline. As a volunteer with LawHelpNY, I assist low-income individuals throughout New York by staffing LiveHelp, a real-time chat service directing users toward relevant self-help materials, legal assistance organizations, and court information, contributing at least 200 pro bono hours since I started last year. I want to encourage as many students as I can to do some pro bono work not only as law students, but also when they become attorneys. I did an internship last summer with the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, where I learned about the prosecutorial perspective of child abuse and neglect cases, and I was also an extern last semester with the NYC Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Bureau, where I had the opportunity to advocate for child clients in Child Protective, Juvenile Delinquency and PINS (Persons In Need of Supervision) proceedings. This summer, I will be doing an internship with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, NY with the Domestic Violence Bureau and I am looking forward to getting the opportunity to advocate for victims of domestic violence.
In terms of sharing my experience in getting a law school education, I would like to share, via a blog post, how one can overcome the obstacles that comes your way as someone who wants to go to law school and wants to become an attorney. I want to write about this because I, myself, have been struggling academically in law school. I particularly had a very low GPA my third semester of law school. I have been trying hard to see what mistakes I made in my exams and how my performance fell. When I saw how much I fell academically last semester, I had a sense of discouragement and had second thoughts about law school. But, I kept motivating myself and continue to do that as I finish my second year of law school. I am truly passionate in making a different in the public interest area, and I am doing externships and pro bono activities in order to learn from attorneys and make myself a better advocate for others. I want to share my experience with others who are also struggling in law school but who really want to become attorneys and want to advocate for others. The connections that I have gathered and will continue to gather will help me share my experiences with others so that it can inspire them to make a difference in the lives of those who need help.

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