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What’s it like being a law student? With a long-time interest in writing, Amanda Palmeira wanted to explore the impact of the law on an ever-changing media landscape. This is her story. 

As an undergraduate, Amanda Palmeira '17 discovered that her interest in journalistic writing concealed an even deeper passion: understanding and protecting the essential role the media plays in American society. Mass communication has undergone a revolution since the advent of online media. She knew that law school would position her to capitalize on the opportunities created by this complex legal terrain. “Recently, we’ve seen traditional media sources struggle to transition from print to online,” she says. “This change has significant impact on many areas of law: defamation, free speech, journalist protections, the nature of publishing, etc.”

Knowing that the entire media enterprise hinges on the First Amendment, Palmeira walked into her course on Constitutional law with high hopes for the knowledge she would gain. She never anticipated she would find a mentor as well—but that’s what Professor Lawrence Friedman quickly became. “Professor Friedman took me on as his research assistant,” Palmeira recalls, “so I received a lot of invaluable advice and guidance from him on how to direct my law school studies towards a career working with First Amendment law.” In addition to her coursework, Palmeira learned to love the process of researching cases and using her writing talents to develop compelling briefs and reports, similar to the work of a reporter in the field. “There’s a learning curve when it comes to writing in the appropriate style for the legal field, which is a very unique style but has some overlap with the journalistic style I’m used to. So once I got the hang of it, my old skills kicked in.”

She continued to flex her verbal muscles at the New England Law Review and later took those strengths with her when she worked as a summer law clerk for a local attorney who specializes in cases related to sexual abuse. Palmeira had the opportunity to collaborate on both district and federal cases, honing her legal voice as she contributed to the firm’s cause. “They were tackling a number of cases related to Title IX—a law you read about in school but never think about actually encountering firsthand while still a student,” she says. “It was an incredible experience to be so closely involved.”

In the fall of 2017, Palmeira followed in Professor Friedman’s footsteps as a judicial clerk for the New Hampshire Superior Court. “He was a big proponent of this clerkship because of the great experience he had, and he encouraged me to apply,” she says. “I’ll have the chance to dive into research for all sorts of cases at the trial level, see the cases from all angles, and gain experience working with judges and trial attorneys—no matter where my career leads, this experience will be invaluable.”

The relationships she built during her time at New England Law with Professor Friedman and others helped shape Palmeira’s path and positioned her to realize her goal of practicing media law. As she looks to the future, she remains inspired by the work of boots-on-the-ground journalists and excited by the prospect of advocating on their behalf. “We need to have journalists out there, pounding the pavement and sharing factual accounts of events, in order for people to empathize with and understand one another,” Palmeira says. “This is fundamental to the mechanics of our society—and why I’m so passionate about it.”

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