Unique Paths to Public Service

At this point in my first 1L semester, there are very few reminders about life after (and during!) law school. Between memo drafts and Bluebooking, I don’t often think about where I’ll be a few years from now.

But I took time out Thursday evening to go to WLA’s event “Reimaginging Public Service: Women in Nontraditional Legal Careers.” Trust me — it was well worth the time away from my casebooks (and there was dinner – win!).

Co-sponsored with the Student Public Interest Network, the event featured a panel of women attorneys who have found public interest jobs they love — and taken their own paths to get there. One panelist said she took the issue about which she was most passionate, and found a fellowship to fund her work. Another said her journey was more along the lines of “the long and winding road,” where she took the opportunities that came her way and didn’t hesitate to take on a new challenge. From paying off loans to balancing work and family life to asking your employer for what you need on the job, the panelists’ shared insight on practical and “big picture” questions.

And while these women’s careers have spanned a number of fields — environmental law, public defense work, and education reform, just to name a few — they were united in their message: If you don’t love what you do, it’s not worth doing.

I may not love working on my open memo draft this weekend, but if these are the skills that will help me do what I love, I think it’s a worthwhile trade off.

Special thanks to our panelists: Meryl Kessler, Discovering Justice; Joan Meschino, Massachusetts Appleseed; Zoe Paolantonio, Northeastern University Domestic Violence Institute; and Margaret Van Deusen, Charles River Watershed Association.

–Emily Wales

 

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