Even in middle school, Gina Abbadessa ’19 was planning her future legal career. Of course, back then she probably wasn't imagining becoming one of the most accomplished members of her class, serving as Law Review Editor-in-Chief and becoming valedictorian, all while attending law school part time. But then again...
“I’ve always found the concept of law simply interesting. It’s completely man-made, but we can’t imagine life without it. It’s pliable enough to accommodate different cultures…and is in that way an interesting reflection of a society’s values,” observes Gina Abbadessa ’19.
This penchant for thoughtful inquiry—and the law—has followed Abbadessa since childhood, and she says she always knew she wanted to be a lawyer.
“I remember trying practice LSAT questions in middle school, thinking I was really getting a head-start on law school,” she says. “If you ask my parents, they’ll say they thought I should be a lawyer just because I always argued about everything!” Her mother in particular encouraged Abbadessa to ask questions and consider issues from all sides. “I liked that in the law I could flex those skills,” Abbadessa says.
Abbadessa certainly flexed those skills at New England Law Review, where she was a part-time student, the New England Law Review Editor-in-Chief, and one of the valedictorians for the Class of 2019.
Abbadessa studied political communication at nearby Emerson College, graduating in 2011. Though she contemplated going straight into law school, she ultimately decided to take a break from academics. So she started working at the Harvard Kennedy School, thinking it might lead to the political or nonprofit work that interested her. But law school stayed in the back of her mind, until a little push from her grandmother finally got her to apply.
“From the beginning, New England Law felt approachable, friendly, and encouraging,” Abbadessa says. “The clinic experience was another thing that I liked—even evening students could do them.” The caliber and reputation of the law school’s faculty was a deciding factor as well.
Before starting law school, Abbadessa feared the four years she spent in the workforce would put her at a disadvantage; in retrospect, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I felt uniquely situated because I was a little older than most people,” she says. “I’m now positive that my experience working helped me manage my time and responsibilities.”
Abbadessa felt ready to take on even more challenges as an upperclassman, including joining the New England Law Review, the school’s student-run law journal. The challenge paid off, as she was appointed Editor-in-Chief her final year—a highly sought-after position rarely held by part-time students. “When I got this position, I spent a lot of time thinking about leadership,” she says. “Most of all, I wanted to be able to look back after the year was over and have accomplished real, measurable goals [and] prepare the Law Review for success once I was gone.” And she did just that, helping the Law Review publish three print volumes, revamp their website, and host a well-attended symposium.
Abbadessa will be working at the Massachusetts Land Court as a clerk; after that, she might follow any one of her varied legal interests: real estate, mortgage law, business transactions, compliance, in-house counsel work, or even intellectual property law. One thing’s for certain: she wants to explore her options. “Ultimately I’d like to be doing work that I both enjoy and am good at!” she says brightly.
Given her accomplishments in law school, those options should be plentiful.
Learn more about our opportunities for part-time law students.