By Katelynn McBride
The law can be an incredible tool for change and Notre Dame students know it. In fact, Notre Dame students often make the choice to come here because they want to be “a different kind of lawyer.”
The problem is that not often can a job seeker find an open job posting that would allow them to do what they always dreamed of doing. At Notre Dame, our students can do just that.
Through the “Thomas L. Shaffer” and “Bank of America” fellowships, Notre Dame students literally create their own public-interest dream jobs from start to finish. They decide where they want to work and what kind of work they want to do. They decide who they get to help and how they get to help them. And Notre Dame funds them to do it.
Take a look at one of our recent Shaffer Fellows, Audra Passinault ’15. Having worked at an organization conducting advocacy across immigrant communities in Chicago before law school, Passinault sought to continue that important work as a lawyer. She dreamed of helping victims of domestic violence, human trafficking victims seeking immigration visas, and increasing access to healthcare.
She did not stop when no open job posting would allow her to do all three things. Instead, she created her own job at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, where she now works doing exactly what she came to law school to do.
Passinault is no outlier. Since 2011, Notre Dame has funded students creating their dream jobs through the competitive programs to:
● address barriers to reentry for ex-felons at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
● provide legal orientation and representation to asylum seekers in Orange County at Public Counsel
● serve as a Public Defender for the Project Dawn Court in Philadelphia, which aims to help women arrested for multiple prostitution offenses to become disentangled from the criminal justice system
● defend youth who are suspended or expelled from public schools at the Education law Center in Pittsburgh
● And many other programs in New Mexico, Colorado, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Houston, Oakland, and Chicago.
Do you dream of making a difference in your legal career? At Notre Dame, you can do it.
Katelynn McBride is the program director for public interest and Chicago initiatives in the Career Development Office at NDLS. Originally from Castle Rock, Colo., McBride earned her B.A. in political science from the University of San Diego and her J.D. from the University of Chicago. Before coming to NDLS, McBride participated in the Koch Associate program, serving as a legal fellow at the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center and as a constitutional litigator at the Institute for Justice in Minneapolis.