THINKING FORWARD

BU Law classes, clinics, and moot court competitions led to federal clerkship

Elizabeth Rossi

Elizabeth Rossi ('12)

A Public Interest Scholar with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Rossi ('12) had been crafting a dream for years. Her goal was to launch a career in international human rights with the U.S. State Department on the strength of two graduate degrees—a master's in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a J.D. from BU Law. She initially expected to find her primary inspiration through her studies in international relations.In fact, she recalls, I viewed legal study as a complement to my primary career objective of policy work.

As soon as she began classes at BU Law, however, Rossi found the energy and commitment of the community infectious. "It struck me during my first year that I could really learn to love working in the law," she remembers. "The intellectual energy at BU Law was so invigorating." Following her passion for international human rights, Rossi worked with BU Law's Career Development and Public Service Office to land a summer internship with Legal Aid of Cambodia.


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In Phnom Penh, she had an epiphany while researching how various child-friendly justice systems could serve as models for Cambodia. "When I discovered articles describing the deplorable juvenile justice facilities in the southern U.S.," she says, "I realized that I was in the wrong place. I had been so focused on international human rights that I was overlooking problems in my own backyard."

Back at BU Law, Rossi reset her priorities to focus on the intersection of immigration and criminal law. She enrolled in the Asylum & Human Rights Clinic, where she won asylum for a woman whose immigration status had been in limbo for 15 years. She became the driving force behind BU Law's new Immigration Detention Clinic, launched in 2010. Additionally, Rossi was a student in the Criminal Litigation Clinic and the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia.

On top of her direct advocacy work, Rossi conducted extensive legal research and wrote academic papers and contributed to amici briefs on these topics. She also directed the Edward Stone Moot Court Competition, won Best Oralist for the Stone Moot Court Competition, and won Best Team Brief and Second Team in the Albers Moot Court Competition. She also participated in the BU Law Pro Bono Program.

“Being in this community was so motivating,” says Rossi. “I felt empowered to help meet the legal needs of marginalized populations.”

Today, Rossi is learning the justice system from the other side of the bench. Her wealth of experience researching, advocating and writing on issues of national importance has earned her two different clerkships. Currently, she is a law clerk for Judge Paul Barbadoro in the U.S. District Court in NH, and in the fall she will begin a clerkship with Judge Martha Daughtrey on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Nashville, TN.

Certainly gaining this behind-the-scenes look at how district and federal courts operate is another step in the right direction for achieving her dream.