Earlier this year we interviewed Brittany LaMarr on how she hoped to use her School of Public Policy (SPP) skillsets to address systemic inequities. Since January, Brittany has transitioned from our Master of Public Administration (MPA) program to our Master of Public Policy (MPP) program. She also enrolled in at JD program at UConn Law.
Her decision to do so was based on the evolution of her experiences over the last few year. After never previously envisioning law school for herself, Brittany participated in Yale Law School’s Access to Law Program in 2020. Through the Fellowship she gained the tools to succeed in applying, but more importantly learned for herself that she could in fact attend.
Brittany was also influenced by her professional experiences, research projects and seeking ways to respond to and prevent policy decisions. As she explains, the previous presidential administration also had an impact,
I didn’t like feeling helpless when we had a president in power that led through fear, lies, and oppression, spread hatred and bigotry, and pushed the negative partisanship of our country to a place where it is almost impossible to push out any federal policy issue. I see a law degree as an additional tool to combat policy issues that are unconstitutional and violate fundamental human rights and civil liberties.
After years of working amongst state legislature, she learned a lot about public policy. She saw how politics impacted the success and failure of bills, and experienced research be ignored when advocating for or against a piece of legislation. Along the way she saw a way to create change outside of public policy.
At the moment Brittany does not have a focus for her JD. She is entering the process open-minded with the hope of soaking up as much knowledge and experience as possible. Human Rights and serving as an international human rights lawyer could be one path. Brittany is also considering environmental law, as well as opportunities to continue her work on youth justice reform and protecting the rights of children.
In order to offset living expenses and fund her education as a full-time working mom of a 6-year-old and 1-year-old, Brittany began applying to scholarships and fellowships. This fall Brittany will become a Frédéric Bastiat Fellow with The Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Through the fellowship she hopes to obtain knowledge at the intersection of political economy and human rights. She says,
I have researched, interned, and worked for organizations that represent a vast array of policy issues and what I have found is that the economic cost of the policy issue holds the greatest weight in whether there is reform and progress. I saw this as an opportunity to better understand the intersection between economics and public policy.
This fall Brittany will also be a Fellow with the Pipeline to Practice Foundation, Inc. She was provided with this additional mentorship opportunity through the Yale Law Fellowship. Through the foundation she will receive an experienced practitioner, BigLaw partner and industry expert as a mentor. Brittany notes that 1L (first year of law school) success largely determines initial post-graduate employment opportunities, and she hopes to gain more insight into law school and feel better prepared and supported throughout her first year.
Through both fellowship opportunities she has been able to network across the country and expand her exposure to knowledge and education outside of traditional school settings. She emphasizes,
I truly believe that it is only through the evolution of my knowledge that I can better understand the complexities of public policy, make the most informed case for public policy issues, better understand the world around me, and be in a position to support the advancement and protection of human rights and civil liberties here in the United States and across the globe.
While in this phase of learning, research and reflection, Brittany has not yet outlined what her path looks like. Currently she is pursuing opportunities she never thought were possible four years ago. She hopes to gain as much as possible from the opportunities she has received and those to come. When it comes to her post-graduate plans, she has them as “to be determined!”
At the end of our follow-up Brittany had this to add,
I think I would be remiss to say how Professor Brian Waddell, a professor I had throughout my undergrad, played a significant role in how I have gone on to pursue my education. The material, education, and knowledge that I received in his classes strongly shaped my curiosity of public policy and desire to learn more. I would say it was through the many classes I took with him that I felt there was still so much more I wanted to know and understand.
Best of luck to Brittany and all of our network members who are currently pursuing a law degrees across the country!