For many law students, nonprofit, public service, and political work are all natural foundations for their legal education. Such was the case with Brendan Morris ’19, who tried his hand at all three before coming to New England Law | Boston.
Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Morris attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he majored in philosophy and politics. After Oberlin, he spent a year working at Haley House, a unique cafe and soup kitchen in Boston’s South End, where he regularly led volunteers in meal preparation and helped run their “social enterprise” retail store. (“It wasn’t just a store; it was a social venture in its own right, the purpose of which was to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit,” Morris says.)
Morris then took his nonprofit experience into the public service sector, serving as a legislative aide for Ruth B. Balser, a state representative from Newton. After that, he worked for Patricia Haddad, the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, as her legislation and policy manager.
With aspirations of one day running for political office himself, Morris knew a law degree would prepare him for public service. So he decided to apply to and enroll in an evening JD program. He chose New England Law chiefly because of the school’s reputation for “academic excellence.”
“I was wowed by the faculty profiles. So many professors from the best law schools with great firm experience,” he says. “While working at the State House, I met more than one attorney who had graduated from New England Law who struck me as impressive.”
That appreciation only deepened as Morris got to know and work with New England Law’s full-time and adjunct faculty. “I especially enjoyed the opportunity to study with a mix of academics and current and former practitioners,” Morris says. “It was a very rigorous experience, but that was exactly what I was looking for.”
Highlights from his time in law school included working in the law school’s clinical program and judicial internships. Morris interned for Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice David Lowy and Federal Magistrate Judge Page Kelley.
While interning with Judge Kelley, Morris drafted opinions, observed trials, and participated in settlement negotiations. “It was fascinating to be able to observe both sides of the negotiation and the way Judge Kelley worked to bring about a resolution,” Morris says. “I am very grateful that New England Law was able to secure such a valuable internship opportunity for me.”
One of his favorite law school memories was participating in the public interest clinic, where he represented indigent clients while being mentored by “the exceptional!” Professor Ilene Klein.
“The clinic allowed me to do everything that an attorney does, including representing my clients in court and in negotiations with opposing counsel, while being supported by a full-time faculty member,” Morris recalls. “Professor Klein answered all of my questions and gave me the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone. I can absolutely see myself practicing in court as a result.”
As for the future, Morris hopes to do trial and appellate work. He’s pulled between his interests in criminal law and civil litigation. Like so many new law school graduates, he’s still trying to figure it out. “A lot will depend on the opportunities that are out there,” he says. “This is still very up in the air!”
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