In Pursuit of Family Justice 

Jenna Stanwood’s Journey from Capitol Hill to Law School. 

Jenna Stanwood

As Jenna Stanwood pursued her degrees in political science and international development at McGill University in Montreal, the 2L was often asked about attending law school. 

“I feel like when you study political science, everyone will ask you at some point, ‘Are you going to go to law school?” she said.  

After her time at McGill, the Connecticut native dedicated six years to policy work on Capitol Hill. However, she knew she wanted to do something more tangible.  

“I felt like I could be doing something more hands-on,” she said.  

Stanwood began to study for the LSAT and explored law schools in the Washington DC area. The welcoming atmosphere at American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) resonated with her.  

“I found that AU had such a good environment,” she shared. “I’m so glad that I ended up here because I've never had professors who would go so far out of their way to try to help you or even just learn about your career, your career path, and what you want to do.” 

Having a mother who is a domestic abuse survivor, Stanwood developed a profound understanding of the effectiveness of good representation and how the role of family court really matters. This ignited her interest in family law. 

“I want to help people like my mom,” she said. 

Stanwood’s determination led her to a summer internship in family law at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program where she collaborated with other family law attorneys and gained firsthand exposure to case dynamics. Drafting documents and engaging in trial preparations provided her with a glimpse into the life of a family lawyer. 

She was also an Equal Justice America Fellow. EJA provides opportunities for law students to work with organizations that deliver civil legal services to those who need it most. 

Stanwood’s internship experience reinforced her decision to specialize in family law.  

“I want to do family law. I always have,” she said. “This summer has just proven to me that I really like the work.” 

During her time at AUWCL, Stanwood has leaned on a supportive community.  

“It’s nice to have a group of supportive people to rely on in law school,” she said.  

Story by Liz Newton.