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Amanda George, JD 2011

A photo of Amanda George
The sense of community here at VLS is really important to me.”

Undergrad:

BS in psychology and women's studies, Pennsylvania State University

Career before law school:

litigation paralegal in Washington, D.C.

At age 20, as a new volunteer at a women's resource center, Amanda George went to pick up a woman from the bus station who was fleeing a violent husband. "She had many broken bones in her ribs and face. He had beaten her until almost nothing was left," Amanda recalls. After driving her to the shelter, Amanda gave her a tour, and then-remembering the training instructions not to initiate physical contact-cautiously wished her good luck. "She reached out and gave me a huge hug, and I hugged her back, because I knew she really needed it," Amanda says.

The encounter made a deep impression on Amanda. Since then, she has volunteered on hotlines, at shelters, and at police stations and hospitals to counsel traumatized survivors of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. She has worked with police to improve crisis management for victims, was part of a team that developed informational programs for high school and college students, and researched legislative options to toughen legislation. And one day in fall 2010, through the South Royalton Legal Clinic at Vermont Law School, she sat opposite another badly abused woman and, for the first time, initiated legal proceedings that would put the protective arms of the law around her. "It was very empowering to do that for someone who had gone through such a horrible, traumatic ordeal," she says.

Raised in Bellwood, Pennsylvania, Amanda was a "very content child" who excelled at music, theater, and public speaking. After two years at Boston University, she transferred to Penn State, where she found a strong program in psychology and women's studies. After college and a few temp jobs in the recession-hit economy, she was helped by a friend to land a job as a paralegal at the high-profile firm of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. "After two or three weeks, I found I liked it-you get swept into the law," she says. After Williams & Connolly, she was a litigation paralegal at American Capital, and becoming a lawyer herself became the next logical move. "My boyfriend was interested in environmental law and I was interested in public interest law, so we Googled the two together and VLS kept popping up," she says. "The sense of community here at VLS is really important to me," she says. "It's been wonderful to be in a school where there's not the sense of intense competition that I've heard about from friends at other law schools."

The "active and compassionate listening skills" Amanda learned in her counseling work proved useful when she became active in the Student Bar Association, serving as a IL senator and the vice president of student affairs during her 2L year: "I thought it would be an excellent way to get to know my classmates, faculty, and staff and administrators-and I was correct!" She was elected president this year; among other projects, she has worked hard to supply research, student opinion, and feedback for a new student fitness center.

Last year through her Advanced Appellate Advocacy class, Amanda had the opportunity to present an oral argument before the Vermont Supreme Court. When she was named Best Orator by the justices, "I was shocked because my teammate the other team members were really fantastic!" After that, she became part of the four-member National Moot Court Team, "the most work for anything that I've done my entire life!" She spent hundreds of hours preparing a brief with her teammates and undergoing faculty drilling, then competed in the National Moot Court Regional competition in Boston, MA, an experience that was "nerve-wracking from beginning to end."

Amanda wants to work after graduation for a nonprofit or small law firm, but no matter how serious the position or mission, one resume item is inevitably brought up by interviewers, she says: her stint as "Rhett," the Boston University terrier mascot. For work-study money, she donned a hot body suit with a big head and pranced around to cheer on the team. "It was a lot of fun, but you look like you're six foot five, really hefty, and people would come up and punch me all the time, just smack me around," she laughs. The payoff for a law career? "I didn't lose my cool and reserved the right not to interact with 'clients' who behaved poorly!"