Public Service Ethos: Kathleen Norland L’13
BOLD AMBITIONS advanced the practice of public interest law at Penn, in Philadelphia, and across the globe. Every Penn student is empowered to pursue a career in public service, and all students experience the benefits of learning to lawyer through service.
During the spring semester of my first year at Penn Law, I learned about the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, IRAP, a coalition of law students and attorneys working to ensure that Iraqis endangered because of U.S. involvement in Iraq receive legal assistance in applying for refugee resettlement to the U.S. or for special immigrant visas. My goal was to start a branch at Penn Law and TPIC was immediately and enthusiastically supportive. Most visibly, TPIC and the International Programs Office were immensely helpful in assisting our fundraising efforts for two trips to Jordan to do intake interviews with potential refugee clients there and to hold training sessions with law students at the University of Jordan, who assisted with IRAP cases. Thanks to the Law School’s support, IRAP was able to take on new clients who now receive legal assistance on their cases. Jordanian students had the chance to be trained by Penn Law professors, one in 2011, two in 2012, and Penn Law students had the chance to gain experience with refugee interviews. An experience that confirmed many of them in their commitment to using their law degrees in pursuit of justice for the marginalized. More than anything else, my work with IRAP at Penn Law has shaped the lawyer I will become. Penn Law and especially TPIC and the International Programs Office has given vital, unwavering support to IRAP. I am especially grateful to David and Rhonda Cohen, whose support made it possible for TPIC, through its Associate Director and staff attorney, to offer exceptional, hands-on guidance to students who see to launch and lead service initiatives. Without that support, IRAP would have never even gotten off the ground.
Transcript edited for length.