Andraya Pulaski clearly remembers the day she decided she wanted to be a lawyer. She was 10 and spent a day shadowing a friend’s father at his firm. Now she is on the verge of fulfilling that dream.
With Commencement on the horizon, Pulaski is still working to determine the type of law she would like to practice. “I’m an anomaly,” she says. “I don’t fit the left brain, right brain categories. I have a lot of interests.”
Because of those varying interests, Pulaski wanted to make sure her time at the Law School included experiencing the law, not just studying it.
In the summer between her first and second year of law school, Pulaski spent time working in Connecticut’s family courts. The following summer, she served as an associate for Day Pitney LLP. During her 10 weeks with the firm, Pulaski wrote part of an amicus brief and helped write a chapter on intellectual property law for a casebook that is now used to educate other lawyers. She says the work was particularly challenging because she had to break down intellectual property issues from the micro to the macro perspective. “Knowing other lawyers would use the work as a reference made the project more daunting, but also incredibly rewarding,” she says.
While at Day Pitney LLP Pulaski also put in pro bono hours, working on the case of a prisoner who claimed he was being discriminated against by a prison guard. The man was serving a 40- to 50-year sentence. Pulaski says the “coolest” part was when she went to the prison to visit her client and was allowed to take the lead on most of the questioning.
In her third year of law school, Pulaski participated in the Semester in DC program, serving as a legal intern for the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Department of Justice. She says it was the complete opposite of working at a law firm.
“A lot of times when you’re writing memos at a firm you’re coming at it from the perspective of trying to get around statutes,” she explains. “But at the Department of Justice, you’re seeing those statutes from the other side.” While she prefers the type of work done in law firms, Pulaski says the Semester in DC experience taught her to value well written court decisions.
In addition to her participation in the clinics and other experiential opportunities, Pulaski says she especially appreciates that the Law School has a number of classes taught by adjunct professors, most of whom are practicing lawyers. Some of her adjunct professors allowed for experiences outside of the classroom such as attending local planning and zoning meetings.
“I got to see what life is like in those jobs,” she says. “It was helpful to see the day-to-day tasks, and to see if it is something I would want to do.”
The hands-on learning was especially encouraging after a rocky start to law school. Pulaski, who majored in history and math at Providence College and graduated magna cum laude, says she was always a strong student, yet she found herself struggling to keep up. She was discouraged but determined, and worked even harder to adjust to the “different kind of testing and studying” required in law school.
Pulaski has a job waiting for her once she passes the bar exam. Her summer at Day Pitney LLP paid off and the firm offered her a position. But before she fulfills the dream she has had since she was 10, Pulaski has one last learning experience she wants to take advantage of before embarking on her career.
While working for the Family Court during her first summer of law school, Pulaski heard that working as a judicial clerk fine-tunes your legal writing skills and offers a team-oriented environment with opportunities for feedback, so she will spend one year clerking for Judge Robert E. Beach Jr. of the Connecticut Appellate Court.
After that, she will finally begin work as an attorney. She says knowing her dream is within reach is a strange feeling: “I picked up my cap and gown and it just doesn’t feel real.”