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Philjay Solar ’19 always wanted to work in public service. But after spending two years teaching with City Year, he knew he had to do more to help his students. He decided to study public interest law, so he'd gain the tools and experience he needed to effect even more change. This is his story.

“Service to a cause greater than self" is a value I have tried to embody throughout my life. However, it was not until 2014 when I realized my true calling to service and joined the AmeriCorps organization City Year, Inc.

My two years of service and teaching in Boston truly opened my eyes to socioeconomic inequity. I saw firsthand how the injustices of the legal system affected my seventh- and eighth-grade students of color in ways I would have never imagined. During this time, I thought to myself, "There is more than I can do to advocate for my students and their families if I became a lawyer."

I chose to attend to New England Law | Boston after speaking with the admissions staff during a career fair provided by City Year. After taking a tour, I spoke with students and professors, and the school environment reminded me of the strong community I had at City Year. But what really resonated with me when deciding to attend New England Law was its Center for Law and Social Responsibility. The center encourages and provides opportunities for students to pursue a career in public interest law.

Additionally, the school’s Summer Fellowship Program further allows 1L students to work and get hands-on legal experience during their first summer with a living stipend. Through this program I was able to assist a legal aid organization in western Massachusetts while also being able to afford living there without having to work an extra job.

Flash forward to the present: I am finishing up my second year in law school. New England Law also provided me the opportunity to attend the Robert M. Cover Public Interest Retreat during my spring break. A handful of other schoolmates and I attended the weekend retreat, which brought other law students from across the country together to attend workshops for like-minded individuals seeking a career in public interest law. This retreat allowed me to reflect back on my initial reason for choosing to attend New England Law. My goals have not faded nor drifted, and I still aspire to provide legal aid in the public interest sector when I finish law school next year.

People have faced seemingly insurmountable problems throughout history. Often, all it takes to overcome those obstacles is a little help from their fellow citizens involved in public service. As a future lawyer from New England Law, I will be one of those fellow citizens who puts my community first.

Learn more about public interest law and the Center for Law and Social Responsibility.