Posted: September 24th, 2015 | By: Rachel Wallen
This student profile was created by the Wake Forest Law Pro Bono Project student staff. View the original article on their e-newsletter. Stephanie Jackson (JD ’17) hails from Ohio by way of New York, coming to Wake Forest Law after earning a Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs and working at NYU. Jackson’s passion before law school was education and equity, and those continue to drive her through law school. She is impacted by learning about the gaps in the law, why those gaps are not being filled, and what she can do. She hopes to continue working in the public service sector in policy after graduation.
“I hope to use my experience and understand how to apply the law and potentially create regulations that will help create and affect social change,” Jackson said.
At Wake Forest Law, Jackson has taken advantage of many pro bono opportunities. She started by volunteering with Teen Court, where she could “advocate for students who are learning for the first time what they can and cannot do” under the law. That grew into more and more opportunities. She has volunteered with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, Lawyer on the Line where she helped victims of housing eviction and as a mentor in Reclaiming Futures. Now, as the founding Know Your Rights Project Coordinator, her policy insights motivates her to “make sure that nobody has to go through something that could have been easily solved by knowing proper protocol.”
Jackson said she has been able to see how important her legal career will be through pro bono: “How you empathize and relate to a client and advocate for them and still maintain that professional demeanor while being able to solve a problem for them.”
Jackson is applying and honing her skills early on through Pro Bono’s practical work. Jackson is using Wake Forest’s pro bono opportunities to “to see how the law really does impact our community and how you can use educational tools to impact not just one person but a community at large.” To Jackson, education and empowering the community is how Wake Forest Law students can use pro bono to change their community. “If you can impact one person at a time, there is a ripple effect with that. A lot of folks don’t even realize that they can get legal services for free. They think they have to represent themselves. Fortunately, that is not true. There are a lot of people here that want to help.”
Jackson loves WFU Law’s student Pro Bono Project because “it is a great feeling to be able to say, ‘This something I can help you with. I can research for you and help promote a result that is going to be in your favor,’ while still a law student.”
Jackson also is the 2015-2016 Social Justice Chair of BLSA and the PILO Auction Co-Chair. She hopes to use these opportunities “to create an inclusive environment at the law school to educate others about our own identities. We can use our knowledge about ourselves and each other to help others as we become legal professionals.”