A Rewarding Career

Hannah Walker, '17

Pace Law graduate Hannah Walker (Dec. ’17) did not always know that she wanted to be a lawyer, however, she did always know she wanted to work in the non-profit sector. “Once I learned more about the law and how you can use it as a tool to help people, I was immediately drawn to it. Then, once I started law school, I found my passion focusing on LGBTQ and prisoner rights law.”  

During her time at Pace Law, Hannah participated in several internships. “The Public Interest Law Center was very helpful in providing me with summer funding for these otherwise unpaid internships. PILC made it possible for me to pursue what I was passionate about. One summer, I interned with the Urban Justice Center, it was after this experience that I doubled down on my efforts to take courses that would give me substantive knowledge of the areas of law that I knew would be helpful for me post-grad. I also put together my own internship with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP). I continued volunteering at SRLP after my internship.” While Hannah was at Pace, she also worked closely with Professor Michael Mushlin as a research assistant. She took Professor Mushlin’s prisoners’ rights class and became passionate about this area and, later, took on an internship with a former Pace graduate doing post-conviction relief.  

Hannah has found certain skills are critical in her work with clients who have survived trauma and who face systemic oppression.  “Excellent listening skills and the ability to empathize with your clients while recognizing your inherent power in the attorney/client relationship . . . are really, really, really important.” 

In December of 2017, Hannah graduated from Pace Law and she took the bar exam in February 2018. “I knew that I wanted to work at SRLP and had been vying for a position there since my internship. Once a position opened up, I applied for it and got it and have been there since. I am the Director of the Survival and Self-Determination Project.”  

Hannah recognizes that students pursuing public interest law often do so in the face of a “pervasive belief that direct service lawyering isn't prestigious or glamorous” and is “so happy [she] stuck with [her] convictions.” Today, the most rewarding part of public interest law for Hannah is working with her clients.  “It is really satisfying to use my skills to help make people’s days better. I am committed to using my knowledge and my privilege to support communities who do not always have access to legal relief. There is a real sense of community working with other direct service attorneys. I am lucky, I get to go home every day knowing that I have done something to make things easier for someone. Public interest lawyering is critical to our democracy. We need to do this work to ensure that all members of our communities can live and thrive.”