Law student plans to use her degree to advocate for underserved people

May 12, 2023

Amanda Klay smiling against some greenery

Amanda Klay, JD '23, has a dedication to people who are disadvantaged and deprived of the representation they deserve.

Klay’s journey started at the Quinnipiac School of Law in 2020, with the intention of using her degree to one day become an immigration lawyer.

To support that dream, Klay has taken three of the available immigration courses at the School of Law. She has also completed externships at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services and New Haven Legal Assistance Association.

Klay values equality within law. That regardless of socioeconomic status, criminal history, or immigration status everyone should be able to access representation she explains.

“I hope to build a practice grounded in humanity, healing and care, working at the ground level and on a person-to-person basis. None of us should be complacent in the face of the grave indignities and injustices that so many members of our community are forced to endure. All people deserve humane treatment, due process, and access to opportunity," she said.

The opportunities provided by the Civil Justice Clinic, according to Klay, have been crucial in helping her develop her client-counseling and legal strategy skills.

“Among Quinnipiac’s greatest strengths is its commitment to 'the whole lawyer' — a philosophy introduced and stewarded by Dean Jennifer Brown. The sense of community and mentorship I have found at Quinnipiac is a critical part of how has prepared me for success. I believe what has most prepared me for success has been the generosity and accessibility of professors,” she said

Klay has received the Quinnipiac School of Law Dean's Award, co-created Guatemala: Human Rights Symposium and accompanying trip to Guatemala with Professor Sheila Hayre, Carmen Ruiz, JD '23, and Danielle Robinson Briand JD '10, and provided many hours of Spanish/English interpretation for Connecticut legal service providers and their clients.

In line with her aspirations to serve in immigration law, Klay is a proud member of this year’s cohort of Justice Fellows through the Immigrant Justice Corps. The Immigrant Justice Corp's mission is to recruit and teach to develop a new generation of leaders who are deeply committed to immigrant justice.

Through IJC, fellows provide free counseling to people in need of representation. Klay believes that her IJC fellowship will significantly influence her legal career.

Klay urges incoming law students to identify their vision of why they hope to pursue a legal career.

“Knowing our 'why' is critically important to navigating the hurdles and challenges that law school presents and gives us the opportunity to hold tight to a vision of how we hope to serve our communities and better ourselves through the legal profession," she said.

Klay urges current law students to never give up.

“Law school is an incredibly demanding, overwhelming and rigorous endeavor – especially in the first couple of years. Do not give up. Know that the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than you may think or feel. The beauty of Quinnipiac lies in its strong community and the abundance of extraordinary mentors on campus. QUSL professors are deeply invested in their students and are invaluable sources of emotional support, career guidance, and professional mentorship," she said 

Once you find success, Klay implores her peers to pay it forward.

“We are all a product of our experiences and the love and generosity that others have poured into us, and it is our responsibility to pay it forward and pave the way for the next generation of law students and leaders to come. It is also incumbent upon all of us – those entering careers in public interest or not – to commit to pro bono representation and service to our community in whatever capacities we can," she said.

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