By Alexandra Jones • June 11, 2020•Careers, Nonprofits and the Public Interest
When I first began law school in 2018, I had not planned on being very involved in campus activities. At the time I was 26 years old, and I believed that most of my classmates would be younger and more connected to the city where I had just moved. I quickly found that my interest in the law was more akin to a passion, and I found myself volunteering to participate in any organization that seemed remotely interesting. Shuffling between classes and meetings for different clubs almost daily, I decided that I wanted to focus my energy on furthering the causes that were the most important to me. While I was a rising 2L, I was asked to serve as the secretary for the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) and the Domestic Violence Awareness Chair for the Women’s Law Association (WLA). By serving dually with these organizations I was able to interact with amazing women leaders within my city and simultaneously promote intersectionality within these communities.
One of my proudest moments during my law school career was hosting events at my university in October 2019 for Domestic Violence Awareness month. I partnered with our school’s administration to ensure that there was programming running the entire month. With the help of other WLA members, we were able to commission “silent displays”’ which were wood cutouts shaped like people, with anonymous stories of abuse survivors attached. These displays were placed around campus, and signage was put up to encourage students to take a moment and reflect on these stories. We also passed out information about domestic abuse and resources for survivors every day. Our major event was a panel comprised of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Directors of women’s legal aid organizations, and professors versed in criminal and family law. We were able to have a candid conversation about domestic violence and the many forms it comes in, while also addressing the discrepancy in access to justice for some survivors. The event was considered so successful WLA received a grant from our school to host the event on a grander scale in the future. At the end of my 2L year, I was asked by the outgoing President of WLA to serve in her position for my final year. I was happy to accept and use the connections I had made to further promote our organization. Currently, I am working with the Women’s Bar Association in my area to plan events for the upcoming school year, and I hope to host more public interest-oriented events.
While I am not sure of where my career path will end up after graduation, I do intend to serve the community around me. I am currently working at the non-profit organization CALI (The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) which serves law schools around the country. My project is to help increase access to legal assistance to all individuals, regardless of their ability to obtain an attorney. The unexpected pandemic and required shift to mostly online services have shown that there is a glaring gap in technological access in America. Individuals who relied on in-person, public services, to receive legal help have been forced to either try to work through their issues alone or wait until social distancing is no longer an issue. Our goal is to determine where these gaps exist within state court systems and legal aid organizations and help these groups apply for grants to ensure all citizens can easily file forms in simple cases.
I appreciate that I am privileged to not only have a college education, but I will soon be a Juris Doctor recipient. While I may have easy access to legal advice, and any required technology, I also understand that this ease of access is not available to all. I believe that it is my duty to use my privilege to assist all individuals around me and continue to fight for equality for everyone.