Alumna makes $500,000 gift to help underrepresented students in the School of Law

Long before she was the bold face of Goff Law Group on billboards all across Connecticut, Brooke A. Goff, JD ’14, was the little girl in upstate New York who loved dog-eared books.

“I was reading at 3 ½, so I was very young. My mom and I would go to yard sales all day, and she would buy me books. We’d go, go, go,” Goff said. “I’d have a stack 3 feet high on my bed when we got home because I was going to read them all before I went to sleep, right? My mom would come in the next morning and find me hunched over my books fast asleep.”

Even then, Goff was driven to find her way through the pages of ambition and hard work.

After earning her law degree from Quinnipiac a decade ago, Goff has achieved unmistakable success as founding partner of Connecticut’s largest woman-owned and managed personal injury law firm.

She has also become one of the School of Law’s most generous benefactors with a recent $500,000 commitment to create the Goff Law Group Endowed Law Scholarship to benefit women students with demonstrated financial need, with preference given to LGBTQ+ students and allies.

In recognition of Goff’s philanthropy, School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown announced that the Ceremonial Courtroom will be named the Brooke A. Goff Courtroom.

“One of the greatest joys of my time as dean has been the opportunity to get to know alumni,” Brown wrote in a memo to the School of Law community. “And when I get to know an alumna like Brooke, who is increasing access to the courts for ill and injured clients while she is also — through her generosity — increasing access to legal education for determined, hardworking students, my heart swells with pride and gratitude.”

The pathway to impactful change is not lost on Goff.

“It is about giving back to the institution that believed in me all those years ago,” Goff wrote on LinkedIn earlier this month. "Thank you Quinnipiac University School of Law for allowing me to partner with you in this endeavor. I am honored to have my name displayed for many young women to see that the sky is the limit.”

For Goff, the endowed scholarship is proof that the dream of becoming a lawyer is closer now, especially for those who fall asleep with a stack of books 3 feet high.

“I grew up in a very low-income household. My parents were not college educated, and they worked like dogs — way harder than anyone should ever have to work,” Goff said. “I saw that look of disappointment when they couldn’t give their kids certain things. I saw how hard it was for them. Knowing what rock bottom is, you strive for the stars.

“It’s easy to say, ‘I don’t want to fail. I never want to go back there.’ But when you do that, you make all your decisions out of fear. I wasn’t going to do that,” Goff said. “I always felt like I was going to do big things someday, but how was I going to do it?”

Enter the late David King, associate dean of Quinnipiac Law.

Although Goff applied to several law schools, Quinnipiac was her top choice. The only problem was, she was waitlisted. Other students would have enrolled elsewhere. But not Goff, especially with the admissions clock ticking.

“So I showed up at Dean King’s office two weeks before classes to talk to him,” Goff said. “I brought my resume and a writing sample from the attorney’s office where I worked. I thought maybe if I could only speak with him, maybe I could change things.”

After a two-hour wait — Goff’s visit was unscheduled, after all — King popped his head out, surprised she was still there. Her persistence paid off with a private tour of the law school and the sort of kindness that lingers and inspires, long after someone has passed.

“He’s talking to me about my life. He’s talking to me about what I do,” Goff recalled. “I told him I knew my LSATs were a little under where they wanted them to be, but I couldn’t afford the bar prep class, so I taught myself the best I could. We just kept walking and talking.”

Three hours later, King took Goff back to his office for a chat. He told her he appreciated that she took off from work to see him. He told her she could always apply next year.

But for someone who strives for the stars, the stars were aligned right now.

“I felt like things went pretty well with him. I just asked him, ‘Please, please don’t forget me.’ And apparently, he didn’t,” Goff said. “He called me the Thursday before classes and told me that he had a spot open. He wanted to know if I could get to the law school the next day to buy my textbooks. I didn’t have anybody to help me, of course, so I opened up one of those stupid credit cards they used to send you with about 900 percent interest.”

Goff was kidding about the interest, of course, but never, ever about King, the associate dean who gave her a chance. And so much more.

“I went to his office and thanked him. And you know what? He kept an eye on me every day until the day I graduated,” she said. “I also took his property class. He did not give me an easy time. He was very tough on me because he knew what I was capable of. I didn’t want to let him down, and I wanted him to know that he took a chance on the right student.

“I feel although he is not here to see all I have accomplished, if he were told today, it would not surprise him. He saw something in me, and that’s what this scholarship is all about. It’s about helping those students like me who just need an opportunity.”

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