Student Spotlight: Michelle Dahl ’24

Tell us about your educational background. What brought you to NYU Law?

Michelle Dahl
Michelle Dahl ’24

I majored in government and minored in religion at Smith College, and always had an interest in law and social change. I ended up attending the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now called United Lutheran Seminary) for a Master of Arts in Public Leadership, where I studied the intersections of social policy and faith communities. I landed in nonprofit development after graduating, but after several years felt a pull to change direction and decided to go to NYU Law to pursue a career in civil rights. 

Any specific career aspirations/plans after graduation? 

I'm excited to be working this fall at the National Police Accountability Project through a Justice Catalyst fellowship. While I also will assist with their co-counsel program, my project will focus on developing a resource hub and network to empower public defenders to file civil rights lawsuits when they identify constitutional violations in their communities. In the future, I hope to continue working on addressing the many issues of the criminal legal system through impact litigation and community engagement.

Tell us about your experience in the Civil Rights in the Criminal Legal System Clinic.

The clinic has been an incredible learning experience that has given real depth and meaning to my law school studies, along with my time last year in the Global Justice Clinic. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners, like my supervisor Alexis Karteron, and from my classmates, while getting to contribute to real cases in the community. This year, my clinic partner and I have helped develop the strategy and legal theories for a class action with a legal nonprofit in the city, contributed to an amicus brief in the Nunez case about conditions at Rikers, provided direct assistance for a recently paroled client, and submitted a motion to include late claims in a class action for clients who were held in jail beyond payment of bail. 

What has been your favorite law school class so far?

Besides my clinics, I've loved my Civil Rights Law class with Baher Azmy from the Center of Constitutional Rights. It gave me the doctrinal knowledge I need, but also provided incredible insight into how civil rights litigation can be a tool to  empower and support the existing work of communities and movements. I also have truly enjoyed my Constitutional Litigation course with Judge John G. Koeltl, which has allowed me to practice my advocacy skills with expert feedback. 

Posted on May 14, 2024