While in law school, Heather McLinn assisted low-income residents of Newark as part of the Civil Justice Clinic and also represented youths who needed legal assistance with post-conviction matters as part of the Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic. She said being part of the clinics was the most helpful of her law school experiences in preparing her to enter the legal profession.
“My clinical professors pushed me to come up with my own answers when I had to fight the urge to run to others for help,” she said. “They taught me how to be an empathetic, compassionate, and diligent legal services attorney.”
After graduating in May, McLinn will be joining Bronx Legal Services as a staff attorney in the housing unit, fighting for tenants’ rights for safe and affordable housing.
A native of Indiana, who graduated from Indiana University, McLinn said she was drawn to attend Rutgers Law because of its diversity and because of its attention to gender justice. As an undergraduate, she had double-majored in gender studies and political science had read about the Rutgers Center for Gender, Sexuality, Law and Policy.
Once at Rutgers Law, McLinn became a public interest fellow for the center for the last two years. She also served as the Co-Editor of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter. “I, along with my amazing staff, have worked very hard to carry on the on the legacy of the feminist students, practitioners, and faculty (including Ruth Bader Ginsburg!) who founded the journal 50 years ago,” she said. “Being on the journal has taught me so much about myself and about gender justice, both what has changed since the journal’s founding and the reforms that are still direly needed.”
She also was active in numerous student organizations, including serving as vice chair of the Public Interest Student Association; secretary of the LGBTQ Caucus; board member for the National Lawyers’ Guild; member of the Social Equity Committee of the Student Bar Association, and volunteering at the Project WOW! LGBTQ-rights legal clinic.
McLinn praised the mentoring relationships she had with Professor Suzanne Kim and Assistant Dean Susan Feathers. She added that she loved her Civil Rights class with Professor Elise Boddie and the Police Misconduct class she took with Professor Alexis Karteron.
Her advice to incoming law students is to fight the feeling of imposter syndrome, “When I got to law school there were weeks and even months where I felt like the one person in the room who didn’t deserve to be there. I questioned whether I was smart enough to be a lawyer. Fighting through those feelings was really difficult, but eventually they fell away. I want incoming students to know: You’re meant to be here! You deserve it!”