Zachary Chase '17 pursued his passion for labor law
Zachary Chase’s passion for labor and employment law is rooted in a desire to make the working world more fair and equitable. And his law school path took him right to the front lines of fighting for equal rights for workers.
Before beginning law school, Zachary Chase ’17 worked as a teacher’s aide for students with special needs. Recognizing the need to maintain safe and supportive working conditions for his colleagues, Chase used his free time to organize on behalf of the Massachusetts Teachers Association—while simultaneously balancing his membership in the Coast Guard reserves.
This hard work was rewarded when he successfully led a team of activists to address their district representatives at several legislative sessions. Along the way, his passion for political organization and advocacy unlocked another appetite: a desire to learn and practice law in order to better serve his colleagues and others like them.
Enter New England Law.
After successfully navigating a challenging course on the rules of civil procedure his first year, Chase realized his depth of understanding of the material and ability to perform under pressure. A later internship at the Department of Labor gave him the opportunity to apply his knowledge in the real world, further preparing him to make an impact following graduation. Through it all, his motto of “preparing early and often” served him well.
After graduating from New England Law as a co-valedictorian for the full-time day program (along with classmate Robert Murphy), Chase started working for the general counsel of the National Education Association (NEA), an opportunity he describes as “divinely directed.” The NEA is the largest teacher’s union in the country; he credits his foundational New England Law courses with readying him to secure this position.
In assessing union rights, for example, he’ll be relying heavily on memories of his government law classes, especially when combating legislation limiting workers’ ability to negotiate contracts.
“A lot of my job will be making constitutional arguments, examining governmental powers, and challenging what the government can and cannot do vis-à-vis the legislature,” he says. “My time at New England Law studying labor and constitutional law gives me the necessary background to tackle these issues.”
Chase is well prepared: he was President of the American Constitution Society while at New England Law, and his coursework concentrated on labor and employment law. Passionate about the labor movement, Chase plans to continue working in labor law for years to come. After growing up in a family of limited means and overcoming difficult educational experiences as a child, he considers his graduation and career path a triumph over steep odds.
“I hope this degree illustrates a poor kid from rural Maine can succeed regardless of the adversity,” Chase says. “I’ve been passionate all my life about resolving social inequities, and I’m honored to begin my career working for a labor organization.”
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