Jessica Drew, JD 16, has been fighting the good fight since she was 12 years old. “My mom used to call me her jailhouse lawyer,” she says. “I was always getting people out of trouble, always arguing some cause.”
As a student at Suffolk Law, her interest in social justice deepened as she began to apply the law to her advocacy work. Drew volunteered for Veterans Legal Services, an organization that provides legal assistance to indigent and homeless vets, and joined the staff of the student journal Bearing Witness, whose mission is to raise awareness of how the law can help create a more compassionate and just society. After her second year, she applied for an internship with the City of Boston’s Office of Fair Housing & Equity, which works to help identify and counteract discrimination to ensure citizens have equal access to housing and employment.
“I fell in love with the work,” she says. “You don’t understand how important housing is until you don’t have it, but you have to have a place where you feel safe before you can do anything else. Everyone has a right to housing, and discrimination is one of the ways we limit people’s right to it,” whether by refusing to rent to a family with small children or to someone on housing assistance. That led her to enroll in Suffolk Law’s Accelerator Clinic, the University’s in-house law practice that represents low- and moderate-income clients facing eviction, discrimination, and other housing issues while also providing law students with hands-on training.
Fresh out of law school, Drew now works with the underrepresented as well as the elderly as an AmeriCorps legal fellow at South Coastal Counties Legal Services. “People who have been ostracized or have had difficulty accessing the justice system still have important stories to share and lives to carry on,” she says. “Sometimes legal problems are the problems that keep them from housing, a job, stability. I want to be the person who can help them.”
(Adapted from Suffolk University Magazine)
Expanding His Horizons
Bryan Clain, MPA ‘14, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Project Manager.
Formerly the CIO of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Bryan was working as a project manager at the agency when he applied for and was selected as the 2013 Commonwealth Suffolk Fellow, enabling him to attend the Suffolk MPA Program full time.
“As a project manager, I interact with different agencies on a regular basis. The MPA Program helped me understand how everything connects to one another and how we, as public servants, help make those connections. I learned so many different ways of seeing problems, which helps me identify and recognize the forces at play in different discussions and decisions.”