[In February 2020, Professor Ava Ayers announced that she is transgender. This article has been edited to reflect her gender identity. Read more here.]
STUDENTS WHO WANT TO ENTER INTO PUBLIC SERVICE will now get a leg up with an expanded fellowship program developed by the Government Law Center. “It can be difficult to break into that circle if you don’t already have contacts there,” said Professor Ava Ayers, director of the Government Law Center. “We can use the fellowship as a way of helping to open those doors for people who do not come already connected.”
The Government Law Center spent the past year restructuring the fellowship, which is a key element of the law school’s Government, Policy, and Public Service Pathway. The fellowship has a third-year internship and also requires two courses during each student’s second year: Administrative Law and Law of Government.
The courses will cover government-related legal issues and will push students to think about their future work in government. “It’s also going to be a skills-building class, where we try to think about what makes a good public servant,” Ayers said. Students will wrestle with questions about who their client is if they work for the state—the public? The head of the agency? The agency itself?—and when politics can appropriately play a role in their decisions.
Ayers drew from her experience as senior assistant solicitor general in the New York Attorney General’s Office when designing the program. “There was so much I didn’t know—skills and values I needed to think through.” Ayers hopes the fellowship and the Government Law Center will provide a hub for students interested in public service—a career path for almost a quarter of the law school’s graduates. “Public service is an honorable profession, and Albany Law has already built an amazing community around that idea. We want to make it even stronger.”