The Brandeis School of Law Class of 2016 completed 9,867.25 total public service hours, averaging out to more than 57 hours per student — far more than the pro bono service hours required for graduation.
Brandeis was one of the first law schools in the country to make community service a requirement of graduation, with at least 30 hours of law-related public service mandated as part of the Samuel L. Greenebaum Public Service Program.
Below are the stories of three 2016 graduates and the ways they made public service a core part of their law school careers.
For Katherine Hall, Brandeis Law did more than encourage public service — it truly supported it through paid fellowships.
Starting the summer after her first year of law school, Hall has been active in immigrant and refugee organizations, providing legal services and advocating for immigrant and refugee rights through Catholic Charities of Louisville and the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky.
But while Hall is passionate about this work, it’s largely unpaid.
That’s where the support from Brandeis has been essential.
Hall has been the recipient of several fellowships, including the Greenebaum Public Service Fellowship, which allowed her to spend a summer interning at the National Immigration Law Center in Washington, D.C.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the support of the school and the Greenebaum fellowship,” Hall said.
Hall is also an inaugural fellow of the Brandeis Human Rights Advocacy Program, a new program that in its first year conducted an assessment of the services available to immigrants and refugees in the Louisville area and collected them in one reference guide.
Because the services needed by immigrants and refugees often cover several areas — such as legal, medical, education and housing — it made sense for service providers to have a listing of all services their clients could need in one place.
“The program has been an amazing experience and a great way to connect with service providers and the community itself,” Hall said. “It really has been a great way to keep perspective while in law school.”
“It was probably the defining experience of my time at Brandeis.”
Emily Meador has always been interested in criminal and family law, and thanks to several public service opportunities during law school, she now has practical experience in those fields.
“I pretty much worked my entire law school career to help indigent clients — and I’ve done it in a courtroom. Doing all this has solidified that this is what I want to do,” Meador said.
“I made sure that I went to a school that had some sort of hands-on experience,” she said. “Brandeis, with the fellowships that they have and the public service opportunities, has really offered that experience.”
In addition to a stint in the legal department at the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission, Meador spent two summers with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, first as a legal intern and then as a law clerk.
As an intern, she shadowed an attorney who handled juvenile cases in the Bullitt County trial office, going to court with him four days a week and helping write motions, conduct research, gather discovery and prepare witnesses.
“I got to see all the inner workings of the courtroom, which was really interesting,” Meador said.
In her second summer, she was a law clerk in the same office and got a limited practice license. She worked with attorneys on the circuit and district court docket, helping clients enter pleas in front of the judge and serving as second chair for two trials.
Meador’s limited license is good until she sits for the bar exam in July, and she’s working on two cases right now. She hopes to pursue a career helping clients who can’t help themselves.
“Knowing that you’re making a difference and you’re helping someone through the worst parts in their lives is great,” Meador said. “I don’t think I would’ve gotten that anywhere other than Brandeis.”
When Keesha Stacy was deciding which law school to attend, something about Brandeis Law made it stand out.
“I really enjoyed the commitment to public service,” she said. “It’s something I care about and something the school cares about.
Stacy, a Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, native, has spent her law school career serving various organizations, such as Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Migration and Refugee Services, Wayside Christian Mission and the Robert and Sue Allen Ackerson Law Clinic.
In those positions, she filled a variety of roles, from making sure refugees know their legal rights to helping members of Louisville’s homeless population navigate divorce or eviction proceedings.
After graduation, she’ll take the bar exam in July and then head to Asbury Theological Seminary, where she’ll continue learning about ways to serve her community.
“Ultimately, I hope to work with orphaned kids,” she said, adding that she might like to open an orphanage someday.
“I think compassion is really important. If we’re not compassionate to one another, then what are we?” Stacy said, adding that it’s especially important for people in positions of influence to be involved in community service.