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Neena K. Chaudhry ’96
Director of Education and Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center
After graduating from law school in 1996, I clerked for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Phoenix, Arizona. I had a wonderful experience clerking and was very sad to see it end.
As I began my clerkship, I had an offer from a DC law firm, but that job was not what I had in mind when I decided to go to law school. Rather, my passion was, and is, working to ensure equality of educational opportunity. Having witnessed the doors that education has opened in my own family, I believe very strongly in its power to change lives. So I knew I had to try to pursue this passion.
In the fall of my clerkship year, I applied for four fellowships: Skadden, NAPIL, Echoing Green, and the Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship. I was selected for the Georgetown fellowship, which does not involve proposing a specific project and organization; instead, fellows are placed with various organizations in the DC area depending on their interests. One of the permanent placements for this fellowship and the one I was fortunate to get is the National Women's Law Center, with which I had applied for several of the other fellowships. For more than 40 years, the Center has worked to expand the possibilities for women and girls in the areas of education and employment, family economic security, and health.
I began my one-year Georgetown fellowship at the National Women’s Law Center in the fall of 1997, after which I seized the opportunity to continue my work there on another two-year internal fellowship, and ultimately was offered and accepted a position as a permanent staff attorney. I have worked primarily in the education group on Title IX issues involving athletics and sexual harassment. Until 2004, I split my time between the education and health groups. In the health group, I worked on various issues, including leading the effort to create a national and state-by-state report card on women and smoking.
I love my job because I care about the issues I work on. In addition, my job provides a satisfying balance among litigation, lobbying, administrative advocacy, and public education. I have had the opportunity to work on exciting cases at the district, circuit, and Supreme Court levels, and I have also engaged in a number of public education and media activities. I enjoy being given a lot of responsibility and working in a small office where I can knock on anyone’s door for help or advice. But the best part of my job is being able to help people while working with bright, interesting people who share a commitment to women’s rights and who provide me with both professional and personal support.