Amanda Lee Shapiro ’15 was recently awarded the Patton Boggs Public Policy Fellowship for this summer. The $5,000 fellowship enables students who have finished their first or second years of law school to work in public policy positions. This is the first year that Patton Boggs has made a grant to Brooklyn Law School.
Shapiro will intern with the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice (CRRJ) at the University of California Berkeley Law School. CRRJ is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary policy research center that brings together academics and advocates to advance reproductive justice.
At CRRJ, Shapiro will help create the first legal casebook on reproductive rights law and justice. The casebook will address the intersection of law and social justice, as well as provide a roadmap of reproductive rights law for students new to the topic. As a testament to the casebook’s comprehensive aims, it includes notions of reproduction from the Bible, and stretches all the way into the Supreme Court’s “undue burden” standard in reproductive health restrictions.
“Having read Roe v. Wade in both my introductory Constitutional Law class, and on my own (in full) as a reproductive justice advocate, I have seen the powerful effect that a law text can have on shaping legal perspectives,” Shapiro said. “In my Constitutional Law class, my textbook severed some of the most impassioned aspects of the Roe opinion, where the majority detailed the inexorable hurdles that women faced in both getting an abortion, and in being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
“Not only was that truncated opinion illogical, but it also managed to deftly ignore decades of women’s rights work leading up to the judicial victory in Roe. A casebook for law students on reproductive rights law is a critical first step towards achieving reproductive justice in this country. It would provide the first exhaustive social science and legal framework for emerging advocates.”
A graduate of Harvard University, Shapiro majored in sociology and received an M.S. in Teaching, with a specialty in childhood education, from Pace University. She is a former Teach for America Corps member who spent four years teaching lower elementary-age students in the South Bronx. She left the classroom in 2012 to become a student herself at Brooklyn Law School, where she is an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow, a member of the Moot Court Honor Society, and the Executive Notes and Comments Editor of the Journal of Law & Policy for the 2014-2015 academic year.
An advocate for women’s rights, Shapiro is the Co-Chair of Law Students for Reproductive Justice. She has worked, pro bono, for a variety of organizations including Girls’ Health Justice/Resilience Advocacy Project, where she assisted girls who have been sexually exploited and made policy recommendations based on their health needs. She has also been a pro bono Clinic Observer for the National Lawyers’ Guild, observing reproductive health clinics to ensure the protection of constitutional and statutory rights, and a pro bono Courtroom Advocate, working with a domestic violence survivor seeking an order of protection.
Shapiro spent her 1L summer working at AEquitas, a research, education, and resource center that promotes policies to improve violence against women legislation and enforcement. There, she was able to blend social science with legal drafting in order to amend the outdated Model Penal Code laws on sexual assault.
“Such policy changes — like a shift away from demonizing sexual assault victims for their prior, unrelated intimate activity — have sweeping consequences that improve victims’ likelihood to report, victims’ confidence in the justice system, and convictions for dangerous offenders,” she said.
Shapiro said she is thrilled to join CRRJ and to play a role in creating a new reproductive rights textbook.
“The CRRJ casebook recognizes that the law is a powerful tool for change — and [that] effectively educating today’s law students is the best way to create tomorrow’s social justice advocates,” she said.