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What’s Behind Claire Donohue’s Success?

Clinical professor's dual degrees in law and social work are powerful tools in helping clients.


The Boston College School of Social Work recently profiled BC Law clinical professor Claire Donahue ’05 about her ongoing work with the BC Law Center for Experiential Learning. A dual-degree graduate of both the Law School and School of Social Work, Donohue returned to BC after spending years as a public defender at the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts.

Today, she directs the Family Justice Litigation Law Clinic and assists student attorneys across other clinics, like the BC Innocence Program.

Donohue shares BC Law’s commitment to social justice and public service. Fusing legal practice with intervention skills rooted in social work, she provides compassionate, empathetic representation to impoverished or otherwise disadvantaged communities that typically lack access to legal services. Her cross-disciplinary training reminds students of the importance of centering clients—their needs, concerns, fears, and hopes—throughout their careers as lawyers.

“Both social workers and lawyers are more likely than not to find people at times of chaos and therefore have the temptation of solving problems as opposed to exploring them and partnering with their clients to address them,” says Donohue. “We work to help law students develop a more empathic and contextualized understanding of what it is they’re doing and avoid tendencies of white saviorism.”

To read the School of Social Work’s article, click here.