Liz Adams learned compassion and kindness as a child watching her mother care for people with disabilities. She quickly followed her example. "When I was pretty young I coordinated a trip for my entire Sunday school class to serve at a soup kitchen," she said. "I always focused on helping others." So it's not surprising that the Minnesota native delved into public interest the moment she arrived in Los Angeles. In addition to co-chairing this year's Public Interest Law Week (PILW) with Fritzgerald Javellana, Adams has served on the Public Interest Law Committee all three of her years at Southwestern, participated in the Street Law Clinic, and is currently working in the Children's Rights Clinic. She is also involved in Southwestern's General Relief Advocacy Project (GRAP) and collaborated with Professor Laura Cohen to establish a Teen Court Club on campus last year. Additionally, she is externing at the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, advocating for children with disabilities to make sure their educational needs are met.
Adams became interested in law because she grew up surrounded by politics. Her father was a lobbyist who spent a lot of time in D.C., and his social group included many attorneys, senators, and judges. However, one of the main reasons she decided to pursue a legal education was the desire to alleviate the problems that perpetuate homelessness. Prior to starting law school, Adams participated in "let the outside in," an experience organized by Housing Minnesota in which she spent four days and three nights in freezing January temperatures being immersed in the homeless population of Minneapolis. "We started at a greyhound station and did a scavenger hunt. We had to carry our things on our backs every day and complete obstacles. We talked to homeless people to learn where we could find a bed and meal. We also spoke with policy people who worked on housing. I realized so much of how people become homeless stems from childhood."
Originally planning to move to New York City after earning her bachelors degree in English and Political Science at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, Adams decided she wanted to "take some time off from winter." While researching law schools in Los Angeles, she saw the public interest section on the home page of Southwestern's website and liked the variety of opportunities to work in the field. Adams has benefited from her efforts with the Public Interest Law Committee and the money raised during PILW, earning two summer grants, first working at the Children's Law Center, and then spending last summer working for the Hon. Michael Nash, presiding judge of the juvenile system. "I enjoyed working with Judge Nash and seeing the policy side of things. I'd like to get involved with more policy work." When she's not working and studying, Adams likes being outside, hiking, people watching, and hanging out with her 13-year-old Pekingese, Muffy. Although she plans to eventually end up in Los Angeles, she wants to spend a few years in New York, exploring the city's juvenile system so she can compare it to LA and find ways to make the most positive impact as a public interest attorney. For now, she enjoys making a contribution to both Southwestern and children in the community. "It's nice to see that you can actually make a difference."