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20 in Their 20s: Sarah Seo

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A Legal Defense Fund Policy Fellow fights for educational justice

When Sarah Seo was teaching kindergarten in New Orleans several years ago, she began to reckon with an education system marked by disinvestment.

“I thought about going into law and being able to have involvement in more structural change,” she says. “I was really drawn to Fordham Law’s motto, ‘In the Service of Others.’ That has kind of been my own motto without really knowing it.”

Reflecting on her time at Fordham, she credits the Stein Scholars Program in Public Interest Law and Ethics with opening major doors for her.

“Sometimes for public interest students, it feels like you’re swimming upstream when everyone is going into the private sector,” she says, but program’s community of students, faculty, administrators, and alumni, including her Stein program mentor, Nick Loh, LAW ’22, helped her feel supported in her chosen career path.

Last spring, after earning a J.D. from Fordham, she was named a policy fellow at the Legal Defense Fund in Manhattan, where she had worked as an intern before graduation.

Seo counts several Fordham Law professors as mentors, including Catherine Powell, who specializes in digital rights and civil liberties and is a former assistant council at the Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “I spoke to her about her career path at LDF,” Seo says. “I was so grateful that Professor Powell, who never had me as a student, really let me into her world there.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Seo describes New York as a hub for policy work and Fordham as a tight community. She quickly got involved with several organizations on campus, including the school’s Suspension Representation Project, which trains law students to represent public school students in suspension hearings. As director of the student-run initiative, Seo led training sessions for her fellow law students.

“I felt like it combined these interests that I had in education and working with students but also … criminal justice and school discipline,” she says.

She also served as a member of the Fordham Law Moot Court Board and as the inaugural managing editor of the Fordham Law Voting Rights and Democracy Forum.

Now, at the Legal Defense Fund, she’s focusing on educational injustices—specifically book bans and legislative attempts to curtail historically accurate teachings. “So many amazing advocates have worked at LDF,” she says, “and I knew I wanted to be a part of its storied legacy fighting for racial justice and equality.”

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