This November, Dana Pierce joined the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs as Director of Externships. Pierce is coming to us, most recently, from the Plymouth County DA’s office, where she served as the Chief of District Courts. She previously held a similar position at the Suffolk County DA’s office, where she started her career and worked and led for over a decade.
During her time at Plymouth, she envisioned and then built a new training and professional development program and infrastructure to ensure that the young lawyers entering the profession were supported in their growth and learning. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Suffolk Law School and volunteered with Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop in the past. Pierce is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Foundation, which aims to ensure that Black female law students from all backgrounds are able to gain substantive work and meaningful experience in Departments of Justice. She is an alumni of Northeastern University and Boston University School of Law.
Pierce comes to us with a wealth of legal experience and government service, tremendous leadership and management skills, a commitment to public service, and a desire to support, train, and mentor emerging lawyers as they enter the profession. We caught up with her to learn more about her experiences and hopes for her new role.
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP): What interested you in taking on this new role?
Dana Pierce (DP): Roughly 10 years ago I was promoted to a role that involved supervising, mentoring, and training legal interns and recent law school graduates and I really loved the work! There’s an energy that law students and recent law school graduates have – I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s amazing and it’s infectious! I find it completely rejuvenating. It pushes me to do better, to be more creative, and to keep trying. I’ve been able to expand that work over the years while still practicing law but then I saw the opportunity to dedicate all of my efforts to helping law students and I couldn’t help but jump at the chance.
OCP: What have your previous experiences been, and how do you think they’ve prepared you for this role?
DP: I’ve worked as an Assistant District Attorney, compliance manager, and in-house counsel. I’ve also done a lot of speaking engagements at various law schools, taught at one of the local law schools, and for a while I even taught yoga! I think all of these experiences have helped me prepare for this role as they’ve allowed me the opportunity to work with people from so many different backgrounds and in so many different circumstances. I think my work as an ADA mentoring law students and recent graduates has been especially helpful in preparing me for this role.
OCP: What inspired you to take on a career in the legal field?
DP: In all honesty, I think I applied to law school not really knowing what I wanted to do but thinking that it was a good choice, something that would provide a reliable career. The summer after 1L I had an internship that, let’s just say, I did not love. My father worked in law enforcement and he convinced me to try an internship at a District Attorney’s Office and that internship I did love! Every day was different, but everyday was fast-paced and involved helping people and the ability to take my education and help people, that’s what really inspired me.
OCP: You’ve only just begun as Director of Externships over the last few weeks, but have you had time to formulate any longer-term goals or aspirations?
DP: I’m incredibly lucky to join such an amazing, supportive team with so many wonderful programs in place. I think it’s a good time to take stock, see what we can expand upon, and perhaps explore additional programming to provide even more cutting edge clinical programming for our students. In the meantime, my short-term goal is to just not get lost in the tunnels…
OCP: What do you see as the significance of externships for law students and how externships can contribute to their professional development and future careers?
DP: I think externships are a wonderful opportunity for law students! Not only do they provide the opportunity to explore potential career paths while still in the supportive environment of HLS, they allow students to apply doctrine to real-life situations, and develop professional skills that will give them an edge entering the workforce post-graduation.
OCP: What do you like to do for fun?
I love to travel, spend time with my niece and nephews, and hike with my dog Rudy.
OCP: How can students interested in learning more about externships reach you?
DP: Whichever way works best for them! Feel free to stop by and say hello or call, email, or Zoom. My office is in the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.