About the Blogger

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I am a 3L, originally from Watchung, NJ. I received my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Rhode Island where I completed the honor’s program and majored in Women’s Studies. My senior thesis was titled “Sex Trafficking and Decriminalized Prostitution in Rhode Island.” I served as the co-...

Melanie's Post

My Summer in DC

Posted by Melanie Shapiro on 06/10/2010 at 12:48 PM

The marathon of the first year of law school has come to an end.  The end of the year was a test of endurance and focus, with a five-hour property exam and the law review competition immediately after our torts final, at a time when continuing onward seemed impossible. If I don’t make law review, I am still pleased with myself for finding the inner strength to pull through at the end of a week in total isolation with the enormous packet of information-- shooting in the dark and hoping for something coherent, precise, and maybe special.  Law review competition has ended, and I am sitting in an office practically next to the White House in the most legal city in the country working with someone who many admire for his ability to bridge the partisan chasms and bring left/right coalitions together to fight for human rights laws and policies.


The challenge: After the typical 9 months of running 1L gauntlet: casebooks, brief, memo, oral arguments, finals, and the Socratic method, it is hard to feel special or smart, but here I am, nonetheless working for someone I admire.


The past nine months have perhaps been the most chaotic, stressful, and grueling months, yet some of the most productive, enriching, and rewarding months of my life.   Around August of last year, I was thick in the prostitution bill campaign.  Finally after being pretty alone in the fight, except for my Citizens Against Trafficking co-founder and our bill sponsor, we were gaining support.  Around July letters began trickling in from churches and local businesses and then started pouring in from around the country from federal agencies, national groups, left and right, and some of the highest US officials and leaders of the anti-trafficking movement.  The media picked up the story-- Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Boston Globe, and many others.  I was fielding calls from reporters between classes, being taped on news, talk show, and radio while trying to survive the first semester of law school.


Throughout the first semester, I juggled rigorous coursework and trips back and forth to the State House to testify.  I wrote policy reports, our “CAT Bulletins” that we distributed to hundreds of the anti-trafficking leaders, prosecutors, service providers, law enforcement, religious groups, businesses, local citizens, media and to the entire RI General Assembly.  The political climate was tense and combative at times, but with each new challenge I knew I couldn’t give up. The issue kept me awake at night, plagued me during the day, and I knew I could not turn my back on it, even if I wanted to.


The reward came when I watched the Governor sign the bill.  When our Rep, who worked so tirelessly, with such dedication and compassion for so long spoke, there was something so exquisite about that moment.  Everyone in that room, without hesitation, stood and gave her a robust round of applause.


I am especially grateful to the RWUSOL administration and faculty, friends, my partner, and family for their support of my work.


There is much more to be done, but for now, I am soaking in every moment in D.C.  The drive to work in the morning is breathtaking and empowering. I drive past the canal with the Virginia mountains behind me, turn onto the bridge crossing the canal into Georgetown with the National Monument straight ahead.  The other day I got lost and accidentally drove by the ABA and past the White House several times. What an amazing city! This weekend, when I have some free time, I look forward to exploring D.C.. One of the most exciting things about D.C. is that the museums are free! Also, the Kennedy Center has a play about Thurgood Marshall I hope to check out. So much to do, see, and learn!