Vannessa Lawrence ’22 has been awarded a coveted Massachusetts Attorney General fellowship, a two-year placement that offers the opportunity to engage in the practice of law and policy in the largest public sector legal office in the Commonwealth.
Lawrence, who is one of two 2022 fellows, follows in the footsteps of other BC Law graduates Andrew Haile ’15, Jessica Frattaroli ’14, and Kate Billman-Golemme ’11.
Lawrence’s journey to this end began years ago as a Colgate University sociology major interested in social justice. During her first year at Boston College Law School, she struggled to find her legal niche until Law Practice professor Cheryl Bratt directed her to a one-day volunteer opportunity at Lawyers Clearinghouse, which offers pro bono service to nonprofit organizations and their homeless and low-income clients. There, Lawrence observed not only how lawyers advocate for and can empower their clients, but also discovered “why I came to law school.”
From then on, achievement followed achievement. As a Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy Fellow during her 1L summer, Lawrence made an such an impression on executive director Elisabeth Medvedow that she continued to watch the student’s progress throughout Law School.
“In a deliberate and thoughtful manner, Vannessa sets goals for herself and then works diligently to achieve her objectives,” Medvedow says. “She spent her Rappaport summer working in civil rights at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, was elected Co-President of BLSA [Black Law Students Association], and now, post-graduation, will return to the AG’s Office. She quietly and intentionally marshals her resources, figures out what needs to be done, and then with intelligence, grace, and a winning smile, reaches yet another goal.”
Lawrence also took advantage of BC Law’s clinical offerings, among them the Boston College Defenders: Prison Disciplinary Hearings Clinic. The course gave her first-hand experience working with clients, taught her how to manage expectations, and triggered an interest in litigation.
While Lawrence worked hard to accumulate legal experience, she also invested time in student activities. In addition to her co-presidency of BLSA, she advocated for a new 1L diversity and inclusion course that investigates the intersection of law and race, gender, power, and class. Daniel Farbman, Lawrence’s movement lawyering and local government law professor, applauded Lawrence for being “part of the core group of individuals who provided constructive ideas pertaining to the substance of the course.”
Lawrence, who was encouraged to apply for the AG’s fellowship by Michelle Grossfield, BC Law’s public service and pro bono director, will step into her new position in September.