Jennifer Kelly-Kennedy '22

An Impactful Experience

Jennifer Kelly-Kennedy knew that she wanted to be a lawyer from an early age. After graduating from Catholic University and majoring in politics, Jennifer spent a few years gaining work experience before studying for the LSAT and applying to law school. Set on focusing on environmental law, she knew that Haub Law was the best option for her. Haub Law did not disappoint, as she experienced a variety of positive internship placements throughout her three years. Now, a soon to be graduate, we asked Jennifer to discuss her Haub Law experience and post-graduation plans with us in this Q&A.

What brought you to law school and Pace in particular?

I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, from an early age. Neither of my parents nor any of my grandparents were lawyers, but for some reason or another I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. My mom was a nurse and my dad an accountant, and they just wanted the best for me. Growing up, my mom always told me “If you have the ability to help other people, then you have the responsibility to help other people.” And this has always been the mantra I’ve tried to follow in my career, which is why I love environmental law.

My cousin is a successful Haub Law graduate, and she too specialized in environmental law, so it was an easy decision when I chose the #1 ranked Environmental Law program in the country.

You are now a 3L, what experiences from your time at Pace were most impactful?

I enjoyed all of my law school internships and clinic experiences. The spring of my 1L year, I was a research assistant in the Land Use Law Center for Professor John Nolon. There, I assisted Professor Nolon with research for a law review article that had been accepted for publication. During my 1L summer, I was the Environmental Law Clerk at PSEG, where I assisted attorneys in Superfund litigation work. I was also a judicial intern for a Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York in the spring of my 2L year, where I performed citation checks, case law research, and helped draft a Report and Recommendation regarding a federal habeas corpus petition. I was also the Vice-Chair of the Judges Committee for NELMCC as a 2L, where I learned the importance of patience when helping organize a large, virtual event.

My 2L summer I interned at the EPA Region 2 in their NJ Superfund Division, where I did a lot of legal research on a variety of issues, including CERCLA’s petroleum exclusion, as well as corporate liability under the Office of Alien Property Custodian. The fall semester of my 3L year, I was a student attorney in the Food and Beverage Law Clinic, where I provided transactional legal services for a beginning farmer project in upstate New York, as well as performed legal research and analysis on U.S. Trademarks, preparing applications for trademark filings, all under the guidance of Professor Jonathan Brown.

Additionally, I’ve been a member of Pace Environmental Law Review for the past two years, as a Junior Associate as a 2L, and Managing Editor as a 3L. This year, PELR hosted a symposium, in which we invited eight panelists to speak on the topic of Labor and Environment: Envisioning a Green New Deal.

I say all this to drive the point home that, I am proud of all of these experiences and grateful to have had so many opportunities at Haub Law, as I’ve learned something different from each one, and made great connections along the way.

I have also been very fortunate to have had many professors at Pace that have made an impact on me, but two specifically stick out: Professor Katrina Kuh, who I had as a 1L for Torts, as well as being just a great mentor to me in the environmental program and as I wrote my law review note; and Professor Alissa Bauer, my 1L Legal Skills and AAA professor, who taught me to be the best legal writer I can and have more confidence in my skills. I am truly very thankful for their kindness and guidance.

What are your plans post-graduation?

I have accepted a post-grad position as an Honors Attorney at the Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. I am beyond thrilled to be working for the federal government again, this time as an attorney. It is a two-year position, where the Honors Attorneys rotate between the different Administrations (FAA, FTA, Office of General Counsel, etc.) every few months, in order to get a better sense of what each division does. I am excited to incorporate all of my environmental law experience and knowledge in with my future work at the DOT. Environmental issues and DOT projects go hand-in-hand, and after the recently passed Infrastructure Bill, the DOT is going to be busier than ever! For me, this is a dream job, and I cannot be more thankful to the many people that have helped me along the way. I’m not sure if I would have been as competitive of a candidate if I weren’t a Pace environmental law student.

What is your advice for future law students?

Be kind, we’re all in this together, and the law community, especially the environmental law community is smaller than you think, so maintaining positive relationships with colleagues is crucial. Stay humble, everyone has good days as well as bad. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a Haub Law alum and learn from their experiences. Take advantage of opportunities presented to you, even if you don’t think it’s what you’re interested in, and don’t be discouraged if setbacks happen. Trust the process!