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What made you choose Albany Law? Are you from the area?
Actually, I was born and raised in California, then traveled around a bit. I am a former Air Force spouse; my husband is now in the New York Air National Guard, around the Saratoga area. We officially settled on this area once I was accepted to Albany Law.
How did you become interested in practicing law?
Well, originally as an undergrad, law was not something saw myself doing. But, as can happen, through a series of life experiences, I thought it might be something I would pursue. I attended a paralegal program while living in Ohio, between 2011 and 2014, and realized that I wanted to go further with law. Once my husband and I could work it out that he could get out of active duty so we could stop moving around, we decided I could figure out how to go to law school. He is a physicist; he can’t practice everywhere, so we’re glad we were able to settle in this area.
Can you talk a little bit about your involvement in the Women’s Bar Association? How did you get involved in that?
That was my first internship after my 1L year. I was at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and one of the supervising attorneys, who I refer to as the Northern District of Human Trafficking “Guru,” had me doing quite a bit of research on federal laws of human trafficking. So I thought, “What better way to get more acquainted than to join a committee that fights sex trafficking?” Last year, I went to monthly meetings, and late last year the committee decided that they were going to help push certain bills and support them, knowing the legislative session was coming up. There can be a lot of conflicts when you are an attorney—you may not be able to speak freely on any subject you want. But since I am just a student, I can do the lobbying.
I was then pretty much thrust into working on the seven bills, writing a few paragraphs about each. That led to me speaking in March when the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York had their meeting at the law school, which entailed voting on these bills. I read in front of the committee, then the board took a vote. I was so happy and surprised that five of the bills were voted on to be supported by the Women’s Bar, and another would be if it was changed linguistically. This was such a success.
Are there any extracurricular activities you’d like to talk about?
I am currently a fellow with the Government Law Center on campus. I’m also currently writing a memorandum on the constitutionality of police conduct. Lastly, I am working with Citizens’ Police Review Board, which is an offshoot of the GLC.
In addition, I’m also a teaching assistant and a member of the Criminal Law Society.
What are your goals with your degree? What type of law are you looking to practice?
I am definitely looking to be a public defender. I found out I was interested in pursuing a degree in public defense due to a great mentor experience during the paralegal program that I attended. I am doing an internship right now with a Public Defender’s Office in Saratoga County, and that has totally solidified that this is what I want to do.
Lastly, what advice do you have for any women who want to study law?
In my opinion, like so many careers that require additional education, there can still be challenges with regard to gender: of course, the classic “mansplaining,” the assumption that women don’t know as much as their male counterparts or classmates. Sometimes there is the additional burden of having to constantly stand up for myself, or speaking up when others wouldn’t. However, because of these things, that makes it that much more important to set an example for younger women. For example, I hope to show women that when some might think it is too late to pursue a career later in life, it is truly never too late. As a nontraditional student myself, I feel like I can bring more to the table that way. Also, this law school has a high percentage of female deans, which I feel is an additional incentive to consider Albany Law.