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Darren Guild 2011
In his former career as a special education teacher in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Darren Guild encountered many cases of inadequate treatment of students with disabilities on the part of the New York City public school system. He decided to attend law school to learn how to advocate for parents and children and help to change ingrained practices.
At Pace Law School, Darren was exposed to other areas of education law in Professor Emily Waldman’s “Law and Education” course. “It is a real credit to Pace that the law school can offer a class in something that is so specifically tailored to my area of interest,” Darren remarked. “Professor Waldman's course exposed me to areas of education law that I did not realize existed."
Darren counts himself fortunate to have had the opportunity to take two year-long clinics while at Pace Law School. As a 2L, he held a spot in the Special Education Law Clinic (no longer offered) with Professor Don Doernberg, where he advocated for children with special needs and their families to receive appropriate educational programs and services. As a 3L, Darren worked at the Immigration Justice Clinic with Professor Vanessa Merton, where he appeared in Family, Criminal, and Immigration Court; drafted briefs and motions, including a habeas petition; and helped a young client receive his Green Card.
“I feel a lot more confident going into real practice after doing both those clinics, because I have a good sense of the work attorneys do on a day-to-day basis,” Darren said. “There’s no better way to really learn how to be a lawyer than through the clinical program.”
Darren also praised Pace’s Public Interest Law Center (PILC) as an “invaluable resource.” He said, “I was able to get advice specifically about public interest law, which I think operates in some fundamentally different ways than other areas of law. The PILC staff knows the field so well, and were able to provide me with insight about what public interest employers look for and how to present myself in the best light. Thanks to their guidance and support, my summer internship and fellowship applications were noticed and I interviewed for most of the positions I applied for.”
Shortly before graduating from Pace, Darren was awarded the Westchester County Bar Foundation’s Public Interest Law Fellowship, which is now providing two years of funding for him to serve as an attorney for Student Advocacy. Darren’s work with this Westchester nonprofit organization involves advocating for families of students with special needs, as well as students who have received suspensions of more than five days. In the long term, Darren plans to work in education law, particularly seeking to attain equal educational opportunities for traditionally underserved low-income and minority students.
Darren’s advice for other Pace Law students: “Take advantage of clinical programs. Get to know your professors. There are some fantastic professors who not only know their field very well, but who are also very accessible and supportive, and will go to extra lengths when you need them. Take advantage of the extracurricular activities, like moot court, trial advocacy competitions, and student organizations. Pro bono volunteer opportunities are a great way to do good while building your resume, getting experience, and figuring out what you want to do,” he said. “You only have three years in law school. It’s important to find those things that bring out your passion.”