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Tabitha Lee Kirkwood: Focus on child and family law

Tabitha Lee Kirkwood, JD '14, is from Providence, RI. Her areas of interest are juvenile law and immigration law, and she plans a career in child and family law.

Why did you decide to study law?

When I graduated from Rhode Island College, I planned on obtaining my Masters in Social Work. I wanted to be a clinician. However, while working at St. Mary's Home for Children, I began to realize that the Court Appointed Special Advocates (attorneys for children) played a big role in advocating for the children I worked with. This influenced my decision to apply to law school. My areas of interest are juvenile law and immigration law. 

What has been your experience at UMass Law?

I was lucky to have such great law professors. Each and every one of them taught me something I can apply in the real world. I've gained the power to make a change, even if it's a small one. Also, the staff in the Law Enrollment Center and the Library were helpful. 

A major challenge for me while attending law school was losing contact with family and friends. 

Tell us about a memorable experience you've had as part of your education.

I was lucky to have such great law professors. Each and every one of them taught me something I can apply in the real world.

My most memorable experience was my first individual hearing (that is, a trial) in front of the Immigration Court in Boston. It was a very hard case, and we won! I realized I was meant to be an attorney during this trial. I couldn't believe how calm and comfortable I was and how ready I was to advocate for my client. 

What are your plans following graduation?

I'd like to obtain a position at either the Child and Family Law Division or the Youth Advocacy Division at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. I'd also like to continue working on immigration cases. 

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