Emily Lambert

We have a duty to use our law degrees to advance women’s rights

As women entering the legal profession, I believe we all have the duty to use our law degree to help advance the rights of women in some way. Before I even started law school at Catholic University, I knew that I wanted to use my law degree to advance women's rights. Since I have started law school my desire to provide legal services to the poor and underprivileged women has only strengthened. My commitment to this line of work is evidenced through my legal internships, volunteer work, and clinical work.

During my first year of law school, my friend at I volunteered with Street Law, where we taught practical law lessons to residents of the Girard Street Shelter in Washington D.C. During Fall 2006 I was a legal intern with Street Law, where I had the opportunity to teach pregnant and parenting young women about family law, housing law, and other important legal issues from Street Law's Parents and the Law curriculum. I think that one of the most important things that we as members of the legal profession can do is to educate women about the law and their rights under the law. I saw firsthand how empowering it can be when women learn about their rights, and how much it can change their lives. One night we were covering the part of our curriculum that deals with domestic violence and the law. One of the girls, who was about 16 years old, has 2 children with an abusive ex-boyfriend. Her ex-boyfriend also has 5 other children with 3 other women. She told us that she wanted to get child support from him, but he had told her that once you have 6 children, you are no longer required to pay child support for any of your children. So under the law he doesn't have to pay child support for their children. This is of course absolutely ridiculous and false, but she didn't know any better, so she believed him and never filed for child support. When we told her that this was false and that she could definitely file for child support against him, she made an appointment to come into our office and speak with an attorney about filing for child support the next day. As you can see, knowledge is empowering. By teaching people about the law, you can help them change their lives for the better.

During the summer after my first year of law school I interned with Break the Cycle, a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C. that deals with teen dating violence. I conducted numerous client intakes and helped the attorneys prepare for civil protection order hearings and child support hearings. Through my work with our clients I realized how much I enjoyed direct client services, and I am looking forward to continuing that direct client work this summer. This past semester I was a student attorney in the Families and the Law Clinic at Catholic University's Columbus Community Legal Services. Columbus Community Legal Services provides free, high-quality legal services to needy individuals and families who live in the District of Columbia. As a student attorney, I represented women who were domestic violence victims in court and help them obtain civil protection orders, and file for child support and custody. Through the work that my partner and I did, we were able to help a young single mother from Washington D.C. obtain custody of her daughter.

The clients that I have met during my work are my main motivation for doing public interest law. A lot of the clients that I have worked with have been young single mothers who are trying to start a new life for themselves and escape an abusive relationship. Seeing their strength in the face of extreme adversity and poverty has been an inspiration to me. These clients have definitely taught me a lot about myself and have inspired me to change the way I look at my own life. There is nothing more empowering or exciting then using the law to help these women and their children break free from the cycle of poverty and violence and start a new life for themselves.

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