Jacob Allen, a Denver native, is thrilled to be back in his hometown to begin his legal career. Jacob graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and earned a degree in Political Science. While a student at the University of Colorado, Jacob chaired the community service program of his fraternity as well as volunteering in local elementary schools as a mentor and reading tutor. During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, Jacob interned with a juvenile magistrate in Boulder County, where he was able to assist the magistrate in researching his dependency and neglect docket. While studying abroad at the London School of Economics, Jacob also had the opportunity to volunteer in a London primary school assisting a kindergarten teacher with her classroom and students.
After graduation, Jacob moved to Washington, DC to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer. In Washington, Jacob participated in the AmeriCorps program, Avodah, which is a Jewish service corps dedicated to combining social justice values with Judaism. As part of Avodah, Jacob worked at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School (“TMA”) in SE Washington. TMA is a charter high school founded by former Georgetown Law School students as the first law themed charter school in the United States. At TMA, Jacob worked in the Programs Department, where he was involved with the mentoring, tutoring, athletics, and street law programs. After finishing his year as an AmeriCorps volunteer, Jacob moved back to Denver.
Upon his return to Denver, he began working at the Children’s Hospital, where he worked as a Mental Health Counselor in the child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric units. As a Mental Health Counselor, Jacob worked with children and adolescents in psychiatric crises by facilitating therapeutic groups and individual sessions. During the past two years, Jacob has conducted graduate work in child and school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
Jacob looks forward to using his legal education as a tool to empower underserved populations.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Brianna grew up in Bellingham, WA. Moving to the east coast for college, she graduated from Bucknell University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics. While she had spent time volunteering with community organizations in high school and college, it was not until she spent a year abroad that she knew that social justice work would be a driving force in her future career. During a semester in Chile, she worked with survivors of and families of those who had been abused or killed as a result of the nation’s violent dictatorship. This exposure to extreme human rights abuse profoundly impacted her decision to pursue social justice work. During a semester at Cambridge University, she studied development economics seeking to better understand how certain social and political environments – like the one she witnessed in Chile – influence individuals’ access to certain rights, especially poor and marginalized groups.
Wanting to use her education to do her part to lessen social injustice, she spent summers between college working for Experience International, a nonprofit that provides projects in international development, and training in agricultural extension and education for individuals from around the world. After graduating from Bucknell, she moved to San Francisco to work at Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), a small transnational nonprofit, as a grant writer. She was passionate about HIP’s mission to increase philanthropic resources for underprivileged Latino communities and excited to have found a way to use her education to create social justice. While at HIP, she wrote grants that facilitated the donation of millions of dollars for organizations that provide access to health care for low-income families, know-your-rights trainings to immigrant farm workers and bilingual tutoring to struggling students, as examples. She worked on a campaign to protect the rights of undocumented migrant children through which she learned that many of these children were reunited with their families because of the efforts of U.S. attorneys. It was then that she knew that law school would be the next step on her path to continue to advance social justice. Currently living in Denver, she is thrilled to be starting her law career at the University of Denver. Sometime in the near future, she hopes to return to Chile to help bring justice to the families she met years ago.
Trish grew up in Wauconda, Illinois, and earned her BA in Spanish and Portuguese from the University of Colorado at Boulder. During her time as an undergraduate, Trish volunteered with various organizations, including Intercambio de Comunidades, the I Have a Dream Foundation, The Family Learning Center, and Amnesty International. In studying Spanish and Portuguese languages and literature, Trish became interested in Latin American culture and politics. She was also able to study abroad in Spain for one semester, which proved to be a life-changing experience.
Trish’s dad has established himself as the most influential character in her life. She enjoyed watching him spend over 20 years as a police officer in Illinois, and developed an interest in working for the government at a young age. In her junior year at CU-Boulder, Trish’s dad proposed the idea of going to law school as a vehicle to working in the public sector. She accepted the challenge, and came to Sturm College of Law directly after graduation.
Trish hopes to serve the interest of the public with her language abilities and legal education. She has a strong interest in policy development and analysis- especially in the fields of health and education- and intends to work for the government. In her free time, Trish enjoys running, writing, and cooking. She also loves to travel, and hopes to continue her language studies.
Melissa Lawson first gazed upon the world from Memphis, Tennessee. From an early age, she developed an affinity for delta blues music, a fine pulled pork sandwich, and posing the wonderfully succinct question, “Why?”
Melissa graduated magna cum laude from Colorado College where she pursued philosophy and Spanish. In addition to wrestling with Hegel and Heidegger, she volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children. Melissa studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico where she discovered an entire population of homeless and working children in need of a voice. The following six months found her engaged in field research and the study of child labor in the area.
After graduating from CC in 2006, Melissa’s compass led her to Austin, the oasis of Texas. She spent the following four years as a third grade bilingual educator in a Title I school. She fell in love with teaching and embraced the role whole-heartedly. Melissa traveled abroad and volunteered during summer months. In Huachipa, Peru, she joined a grass roots organization called Asociacion SOLAC and aided in the construction of a local school, while also organizing child labor marches. In Oaxaca, MX, Melissa spent the summer months working with the World Wide Organization Of Organic Farmers.
She found the loves of her life in the shapes of two South Austin shelter dogs and a mussy haired Kindergarten teacher. You may sight any combination of them gardening, running, camping, bicycling, or driving with heads and arms hanging outside the windows.
They all moved to Denver, Colorado in August 2010 and Melissa entered a dual degree program in law and social work. She intends to use her degrees in the arena of public interest law and provide a voice for children in need of strong advocates.
Beth Phillips grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Missouri with a degree in English and Sociology. After graduation, Beth spent a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA, where she helped provide free school supplies to teachers working in St. Louis public schools.
In 2005 Beth moved to Denver and began working for Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap program. Bridging the Gap assists the nearly 400 foster youth who emancipate from the Colorado foster care system each year. Bridging the Gap helps foster youth become self-sufficient through: financial education, matched savings accounts, and public policy. Through Bridging the Gap’s advocacy efforts, Beth helped convene state and county partners to facilitate collaboration and better outcomes for youth, and successfully pass over ten pieces of legislation. Additionally, Beth published editorials and articles in local publications to raise awareness about foster youth in her community
The youth in Bridging the Gap taught Beth the ability of the court to influence the lives of our most vulnerable population: children. Beth struggled to leave her job and the countless youth who influenced her; however, she is comforted knowing the legal education she will receive at Denver University will arm her with the skills to continue to advocate for foster youth and make systemic changes.
Beth’s current legal interests are in the areas of juvenile law and public policy.
Kira was born and raised in Denver and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College with a major in Political Science and an interdisciplinary minor in Faith, Peace, and Justice Studies. She chose to focus her minor on human rights and the sociology of race and wrote her senior thesis on “The commercial portrayal of Asian-American women in the U.S. and its effect on the demand for sex trafficking of women from Asian countries.”
While at BC, Kira was on the executive board of Amnesty International, a volunteer tutor for a GED program, and a first-year mentor for FACES, an organization committed to education on issues of race and racism. She also volunteered as the Intake Coordinator for the New England Innocence Project, a pro bono project of Goodwin Procter, LLP, which works to exonerate wrongly convicted individuals through the use of DNA evidence or other scientific testing. Additionally, she traveled to Kingston, Jamaica with the Pedro Arrupe International Program, which is a service-learning program devoted to social justice.
Kira also worked as the Campaign Coordinator for the Committee to Elect Andrea Silbert for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor and later worked as a Press Intern in Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Press Office. She studied abroad in Sydney, Australia and worked at Amnesty International Australia as a Refugee Caseworker.
After college, Kira spent two years working as litigation paralegal at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP in Washington, DC. While there, she was exposed to working in the fast-paced environment of a law firm and had the opportunity to work on a variety of cases in different practice areas. She particularly enjoyed working on a number of pro bono matters including multiple asylum cases, an employment discrimination suit based on HIV-positive status, a death penalty case, and a case representing Guantanamo detainees.
She is excited to be back home in Denver pursuing her law degree.