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Career Paths: Tara Blackwell ’24L After graduation, Tara Blackwell will be working at the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic (GCLC) as a Donoghue Fellow with the Homelessness Advice and Representation Program.

blackwelltara-800x533 Career Paths: Tara Blackwell '24LTara Blackwell ’24L

Tara Blackwell ’24L is from Falls Church, Virginia. She attended University of California, San Diego, where she received a B.A. in History. Tara spent her 1L summer as an Equal Justice Works Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow at the Center for Arkansas Legal Services in Little Rock. She then spent her 2L summer as an Economic Justice Intern at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond, VA. As a 3L at W&L, she is a Note Editor on the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?

I will be working at the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic (GCLC) as a Donoghue Fellow with the Homelessness Advice and Representation Program. I will be providing brief advice and counsel at homeless shelters on a range of issues including public housing, criminal record expungement, social security, etc.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted a career in public interest?

I knew that I wanted a career in public interest, and I was committed to working with indigent clients. I was pretty sure I wanted to do criminal law but ended up really liking civil legal aid.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?

I worked at the Center for Arkansas Legal Services my 1L summer, and I was doing primarily private housing law. While there, I realized that I really enjoy housing law and helping clients assert their rights to delay or prevent eviction.

At this fellowship, I also participated in many clinics including a criminal record expungement clinic at a Goodwill and a gender and name change clinic at a local pharmacy. I really liked being able to travel to clients to eliminate one of the many barriers that prevents people from getting legal aid.

As an intern at Legal Aid Justice Center my 2L summer, I did mostly public housing work and got more experience interviewing clients. This work further cemented my belief that housing is a human right.

I used this knowledge about what sort of work I like doing to get a job at GCLC that includes housing law issues and allows me to go out and meet clients where they feel more comfortable.

What classes do you think are helpful to prepare for this job?

I think taking as many practicums as possible is helpful. You want as much simulation of real legal practice as possible and lots of practice doing legal writing.

Can you describe the job search process?

First, I participated in the Equal Justice Works Career Fair in October of 3L year. I applied to lots of legal aid jobs in a variety of locations on the east coast.

This career fair was a good chance to practice interviewing. But I found that this fair may have been too early in the public interest job cycle to be useful in getting job offers. In my experience, employers saw this fair as an opportunity for preliminary interviews and expected you to also apply later through their own websites and portals.

When I decided to limit my job search geographically, my search became much easier. In December, I decided to look at legal aid jobs in the Chicago area because I love the city and have family there. I looked at job postings on Illinois Legal Aid Online, found the fellowship position at GCLC, and emailed them immediately. I interviewed once, and I had an offer less than two weeks later.

If you’re a public interest person or public interest curious, I really suggest working with Dean Freda Coleman-Jackson in the Office of Career Strategy—she was super helpful throughout my entire law school process!

What are you most looking forward to about this job?

I’m most looking forward to building relationships with clients by going to the same shelters weekly. I’m also looking forward to expanding the GCLC Homeless Advice and Representation Program to additional shelters in the Chicago area.

Outside Law School



Favorite Location in Lexington/W&L Campus

Celtic Tides, Ai Cha Milk Tea, and Earth, Fire, and Spirit Pottery in downtown Lexington

Advice for Prospective Law Student

Give yourself grace!

Something/Someone you will miss at W&L Law

I will miss seeing groundhogs near the faculty parking.