The Legal Clinics is pleased to announce a new blog segment, “Where Are They Now?,” which highlights recent Law School graduates who participated in one or more clinics, and their successful transition to the workforce. We kick off our inaugural segment featuring Allison (Deal) Magill, a 2009 USD School of Law graduate.
At an early age, Allison knew she wanted to go to law school. Both her uncle and grandfather are attorneys and, following in their footsteps, she set out to enter law school right out of college. The USD School of Law’s reputation, combined with San Diego’s climate, made USD her top school choice.
She enrolled in 2006, participating in the Legal Clinics in her second year. “The Clinic was the highlight of my law school experience,” says Allison. “It helped shape my perspective and really provided me with the opportunity to practice and directly apply everything I learned in my courses.”
Allison elected to participate in the Special Education Clinic (now the Education and DisabilityClinic), which represents the parents of children with special needs to secure rights under IDEA, Section 504 and the Lanterman Act. “My roommate at the time was a special education teacher and I would hear about the issues she was experiencing in her classroom and with her students. She would come home with heart-wrenching stories, and even legal questions about what services students should be provided. When we discussed these issues, I heard so often that students with disabilities weren’t getting the services they needed.”
Allison was also drawn to the uniqueness of the field of special education law. As a unique legal field, there are a limited number of special education legal clinics in the country, making USD’s clinic a great asset to its students. The Legal Clinics also offers a law clerk program for recent graduates, which Allison was hired into upon graduating in 2009.
“The ability to work as a law clerk after graduation was extremely helpful,” comments Allison. “I graduated at a difficult time for the economy and because I was able to work for the Legal Clinics, I didn’t have to take a job right away that was outside my area of interest. That made me more marketable as well.”
As a result,she was hired by the California Charter Schools Association‘s special education advocacy team as a special education advisor, and has been there a little over a year. The California Charter Schools Association advances the charter school movement through state and local advocacy, leadership on accountability, and resources for member schools.
In her role, Allison helps charter schools understand and make the structural changes needed to better serve children with disabilities. Moreover Allison is able to use her legal knowledge to do policy and advocacy work, something she always wanted to do. “There are many options available to those with a law background that don’t mean you have to become a practicing attorney but you still use your legal training and skills,” she notes.
She also credits the clinics as being an extremely valuable component of her law school education. “The Legal Clinics prepared me in a way traditional law school classes just couldn’t. Everything I know about special education law I learned in the clinics. I learned how to really analyze the cases and build relationships with clients, in addition to practicing the every day professional skills that are vital to my career and success.”
Allison just recently married a fellow USD law school alumn, Chris Magill, and is living happily in San Diego.