Home Town: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Degree: B.A., Sociology, University of Vermont
Career Interest: Criminal Defense
Deborah Gettleman knew that she wanted to study law because she wanted to fight for change in the criminal justice system. What she found at King Hall is that she wouldn't have to wait until after graduation to do it.
Gettleman enrolled in the Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic, where she got hands-on experience advocating for indigent clients who have filed suit in federal court, and the Prison Law Clinic, where she provided legal services for clients incarcerated in the state prison system. “The learning curve is unreal,” she said. “You can take a legal writing class, but until you are writing a habeas writ to get someone out of prison, you just can’t imagine how the relevance of your work will push you to learn every minute rule.”
Gettleman came to the UC Davis School of Law from the University of Vermont, and like many newcomers to King Hall, she was surprised by the atmosphere of cooperation that prevails. “I was shocked at how supportive my classmates were,” she said. “You see The Paper Chase, and expect all law schools to be like that, but King Hall really isn’t.” She was also pleasantly surprised by her fellow students’ commitment to immigrants’ rights, prison reform, environmental justice, labor issues, and other areas of public service.
In addition to her work with the King Hall clinics, Gettleman was co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild , a national organization of legal professionals dedicated to using their law degrees to effect social change. She was also one of the founding board members of the UC Davis School of Law Humanitarian Aid Legal Organization (HALO) , which sent students to New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi to provide legal services to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Gettleman looks forward to putting the knowledge and experience she’s gained at King Hall to work as a criminal defense attorney. “Between the clinics and trial practice, I feel prepared to go out into the legal world as a strong advocate for my clients,” she said.