Carmel Dooling, '17
“I think pro bono is something everyone should do, and there’s time to do it if you make the time. We can all wake up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday and just go do a couple of hours of something."
Hometown: Tempe, Arizona
Undergrad: Arizona State University
College major: U.S. History and Political Science
Law School activities: Chicago Law Foundation, Latino/a Law Students Association, Student Admissions Committee, pro bono work
When Carmel Dooling, ’17, was an undergraduate at Arizona State University, she volunteered on a political campaign and helped elect a Phoenix district’s first Latino city council representative. The experience gave her a chance to honor her own Latina roots and give back to her community — and to embrace values that have become an integral part of her life and education.
By the beginning of her 1L Spring Quarter, Carmel had devoted 60 hours to pro bono work, volunteering with the walk-in Woodlawn Legal Clinic run by LAF and DLA Piper, as well as working at Instituto del Progreso Latino, where she has helped lawful permanent residents apply for citizenship. She also participated in Spring Break of Service, volunteering in the public defender’s office in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she and her team researched the rights of deaf individuals within the criminal justice system.
“Sometimes in law school it can feel like having 20 pages of reading is the most terrible problem in the world, but this work really gives you a different perspective,” she said. “You hear that someone’s home has mold growing in it, and their children are getting sick, and their landlord’s not taking care of it — and it makes you thankful for what you have. It also makes clear to me why pro bono is so important. I have these opportunities, I should use them to help other people.”
The Law School makes it easy to pursue volunteer work, Carmel said, noting that the Manager of the Pro Bono Service Initiative, Shehnaz Mansuri sends out regular emails with lists of opportunities in a wide range of legal areas. The Initiative named Carmel its Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month in October 2014.
“I think pro bono is something everyone should do, and there’s time to do it if you make the time,” Carmel said. “We can all wake up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday and just go do a couple of hours of something. I don’t think that law school is so difficult that we need to stay holed up all the time studying. It’s healthy to get out and to take break and to see another side of things.”
Carmel has enjoyed digging into issues in her classes, too. “I had thought so much of class would be regurgitating the textbook, but then I walked in on the first day, and the professors were asking questions and the answers weren’t in the textbook,” she said. “At first I thought, ‘Oh no,’ but it was good. The professors make sure you’re thinking and not resting on your laurels.”
Advice for future 1Ls?
“Don’t be overly afraid of the cold calls,” she said. “Realize that it isn’t about you — it is the professor using you as a way to get the class to understand something. They aren’t trying to put you spot or to embarrass you, you’re just the one at the moment through whom the lesson is being taught.”