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Whitney Dodds (Class of 2011)

Day Division
Before I decided to attend law school, I was interested in a career in public health. I even considered pursuing a master’s degree in public health, but in the end decided to go to law school instead. My ultimate goal was to find a career where I could help people and communities. I believed that a law degree would give me the tools to create positive change. One reason I was drawn to New England Law | Boston was the clinic opportunities and a clear commitment among the school’s faculty to public interest work.

During my first year of law school, I simply focused on getting through the year. I did some public interest work during the summer after my 1L year at Shelter Legal Services and AIDS Action Committee. Then, during the first semester of my 2L year I enrolled in the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic at the New England Law | Boston Clinical Law Office. As a legal intern at the New England Law Clinical Law Office I was given a great deal of responsibility. Under the supervision of an attorney, I had my own cases and clients, which required me to negotiate with opposing counsel, appear in court, and prepare a variety of legal documents. My public interest clinic experience was invaluable to me as it gave me the confidence to enter the workforce knowing that I have the essential legal skills to be successful.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the public interest legal work I did up to this point, I wanted to find a way to combine a law degree with my interest in public health. Lucky for me, during my 2L year Professor Berman started the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy at New England Law | Boston upon receipt of a grant from the New York State Health Department. I started work with the center in January 2010, as a work-study student. I continued working with the center full time during the summer after my 2L year, and again during the spring semester of my 3L year.

As a law clerk for the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy I assisted in writing model legislation, co-authored a technical report on licensing tobacco retailers, and researched a variety of tobacco control legal issues. Working at the center gave me hands on experience in an area of law I felt passionate about. Moreover, I was mentored by attorneys who are experts in the field of public health law. They have served as invaluable resources for my professional development.

I cannot possibly stress enough how supportive members of the New England Law faculty and staff have been throughout my time as a student. Overall, my experiences at both the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic and at the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy were instrumental in developing my skills, building a legal network, and strengthening my commitment to public interest work.

(May 2011)