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Preparing for a Dynamic Public Interest Career

August 08, 2023

Laura Hannon L'24 SP2'24
Laura Hannon L’24 SP2’24

An aspiring public servant, Laura Hannon L’24, SP2’24 split her summer between government service and legal aid.

This summer, I split my time between two fantastic internships: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office of Federal Operations (EEOC) in Washington, D.C., and the Oregon Law Center (OLC) in Portland, Oregon. I have always felt drawn to both government work and civil legal services, and a split summer was the perfect way to gain experience in both legal settings. The Leo Model Fellowship and Equal Justice Foundation supported my work at the EEOC, and Equal Justice America supported my internship at OLC.

A Summer Dedicated to Service

I began my summer with six weeks at the EEOC, where I helped draft appellate decisions for federal employment discrimination claims. This work allowed me to dive into federal anti-discrimination laws and explore the nuances, challenges, and protections these statutes offer. I drafted both procedural and merit claim decisions under the supervision of an EEOC mentor attorney, which was a valuable way to learn and grow in my legal writing skills. In addition, EEOC summer interns collaborate on a research project of their choosing. My cohort focused on grooming and appearance standards in the workplace, with an emphasis on the intersectional impact these policies have. This project, along with frequent brown bag lunch presentations, gave interns ample opportunity to learn about the administrative side of creating and enforcing civil rights law.

In July, I moved across the country to begin my internship with the OLC, a legal aid organization serving low-income communities. I assisted in health law cases enforcing patient rights under Medicaid, such as covering durable medical equipment and providing translation services. I also supported litigation efforts against statutes criminalizing homelessness and conducted legal and policy research to accelerate OLC’s work during next year’s legislative session.

Paving the Public Interest Path

Several of my Penn Carey Law experiences prepared me for the variety of work I completed this summer. Volunteering with the Medical-Legal Pro Bono project and completing an externship with the ACLU of Idaho were both essential in preparing me for legal aid work and developing my understanding of impact litigation. The Legislative Clinic also prepared me for working in the government and doing legislative research.

In addition, the “Disability Law” course taught by Professor [of Law] Jasmine E. Harris gave me a thorough understanding of the anti-discrimination laws I would use at both internships, while “Administrative Law” with Dean Sophia Z. Lee gave me the necessary background on executive functions and processes. Finally, “Advanced Legal Research” proved endlessly useful, and I’m certain I will continue to apply these skills for the entirety of my career.

Additionally, my coursework for my dual degree, a master’s degree in social policy, was instrumental in preparing for the policy work at OLC. I look forward to leveraging all of these learning experiences in my public interest career, no matter the setting.

Pathways to the Profession highlights Penn Carey Law students and post-graduate fellows as they launch impactful legal careers. From summer internships in the private sector to public interest post-graduate fellowships, these firsthand accounts of substantive legal work demonstrate the myriad opportunities available to Penn Carey Law students and graduates as they hone their skills and advance their career goals.

Laura Hannon L’24, SP2’24 was born and raised in Idaho and came to Penn Carey Law with a desire to learn about antidiscrimination and civil rights law.

Discover more of our students’ Pathways to the Profession.