I’m writing this blog in my seventh semester of graduate school at the University of Houston. As I reflect on all the experiences I have had over the past three and a half years, all I can think of is, “Wow!” As a dual degree student (MSW/JD), I started my first year of law school in 2008. It has definitely been a wild roller coaster ride with some really amazing moments and some moments of complete burnout. The great thing about my program is that I have had SO MANY opportunities to learn and grow both as a soon to be lawyer and social worker. To put this in perspective, I am just going to list some of these amazing opportunities:
- I have worked with/interned at ten different organizations since I started at UH: Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Houston Law Review, Equal Justice Works, the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Looper, Reed & McGraw, Representative Garnet Coleman in the Texas Legislature, Disability Rights Texas, the Center for Children, Law, and Policy, and Child Advocates (CASA).
- I have volunteered for two years as an Admissions Ambassador for the GCSW
- I spent my first year of law school in a section of 80 law students and my first year of social work in a cohort of 30- which led to some amazing friendships
- I’ve taken 17 social work classes (for 47 hours of credit) and 20 law classes (66 credits)- just four more classes to go!
- I’ve completed almost 500 hours of field practice in social work agencies.
- I’ll have five letters after my name when I graduate! (or six if I pass the licensing exam :))
So what next? Law and social work degrees are both very generalized meaning there are a plethora of possible ways to use the degrees. Having both only expands my options so I over the past three years I have thought a lot about what I want to do and how others have used their JD/MSWs. Social policy, civil rights, immigration, family law, disability law, public defense, and really any type of public interest law are great. I am planning to use my degrees to practice family law. So I will use my law degree professionally, but will use the social work skills that I have gained to deal with clients who may or may not be dealing with trauma, grief, and other life events as they try to navigate the family law system.