Jessica Zaccagnino earned a JD from the UConn School of Law in 2020 and has returned to study for a Human Rights and Social Justice LLM. She is from Fairfield, Connecticut, and earned an undergrduate degree in Human Rights, with a concentration in Global and International Affairs, from Bard College.
1. What made you want to attend law school?
Since a young age, I have been active in politics and social justice organizing. While I was at Bard College, I got really involved in voting rights advocacy through the Andrew Goodman Foundation and Election@Bard, a club that I co-led. I bore witness to significant violations of the voting rights of students, and we encountered situations where our advocacy was stalled because we needed a lawyer.
2. Why did you choose UConn School of Law?
I remember sitting in the Starr Reading Room during admitted students day in 2017, surrounded by portraits of Connecticut women judges, listening Dean DeMeola speak, and I just got the feeling that UConn was the place for me. UConn reminded me of my liberal arts college: a small, picturesque campus, filled to the brim with accessible faculty that truly cares about their students. I was right—UConn was the perfect place for me to grow as an academic and future lawyer. When I had the opportunity to stay for a second degree, I took it!
3. How do you want to use your law degree?
After graduating, I hope to work in policy or human rights law, but I would love to pivot into academia one day. As I went through law school, I realized that I love publishing on legal and political theory and take a rather interdisciplinary route with my studies. I received so much support from faculty and the law review as a J.D. student when publishing a number of academic papers and traveling to a conference. The LLM program allows me the option to take a handful of graduate courses with Ph.D. students in other disciplines, as well as write a thesis. In addition to preparing me for a legal career, my degree from UConn Law will simultaneously prepare me for success if I decide to apply to doctoral programs later on in life.
4. What is the most challenging aspect of starting law school in this difficult time?
I have a tough time studying at home. Not being able to study where I’ve studied for the past three years—our library and the law review office. But, I’ve used this as an opportunity to spruce up my desk area in my apartment!
5. What’s your favorite lawyer movie, TV show, or book?
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law—I have a soft spot for the show, even though it is fully absurd.