Gender and Justice
Amee Vora ’11 always felt pulled toward a career where she could help people, and she credits the Bryn Mawr sociology department with reinforcing that conviction.
“Having studied sociology and becoming aware of the inequities that people face on a daily basis, I knew that I wanted a career in social justice,” she says. Now an attorney at the Legal Aid Society in Washington D.C., which provides legal services to low-income people, Vora is doing just that. Her work with Legal Aid focuses on representing women who have escaped domestic violence, as well as other family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and child support.
Vora, a self-described feminist, became interested in gender justice while at Bryn Mawr. “I was drawn to courses that focused on the hurdles that women have to overcome in order to challenge that patriarchal structure that we live in,” she recalls.
She was also fascinated by courses that opened her mind to the ways in which factors such as race and immigration status affect the experiences of marginalized women. Outside of academics, Vora remembers Bryn Mawr as a community of intellectual curiosity, passion, and support. Friends from her Customs Group have remained in her life and even traveled to India for Vora’s wedding in 2016.
College internships with legal services organizations, one in Philadelphia and one in India, convinced her that the law can be a tool to empower women and motivated her to study at the University of Michigan Law School.
Unlike many of her classmates who were following more lucrative career paths in large firms, Vora remained dedicated to public interest work. “It constantly felt like I was going against the grain,” she says. But Vora remained dedicated to her chosen path: a fellow public interest student (now a public defender—and Vora’s husband) provided moral support, and a part-time legal services job taught her the ins and outs of public interest work.
After graduating, she spent a year and a half clerking for a judge at the D.C. Superior Court, the same trial court where she now practices, albeit on the other side of the bench. Since February 2016, Vora has worked at Legal Aid, standing beside women as they face their abusers in court.
Many of her clients are recent immigrants who, despite lacking fluency in English and being isolated in the U.S., have nonetheless left abusive relationships. Sometimes, an abuser will use a woman’s immigration status to intimidate her, even yelling at the judge during these proceedings that her client was undocumented and should be deported.
As the daughter of immigrants, Vora finds it especially meaningful to support and reassure these women. Recognizing the stigma that many communities associate with divorce and abuse, she admires the bravery her clients had to muster to seek legal assistance.
“To be able to then tell them, ‘I’m going to help you,’ and then to see the immediate impact that it can have on someone’s life is incredibly rewarding,” Vora explains. “I feel like I’m making a true difference in their lives.”