Brendan Corrigan was destined to practice public interest law where it intersects with politics. He formed a students’ union, in fourth grade, at his Pennsylvania Catholic school. Then he represented his union in presenting a list of grievances to the principal regarding the behavior of a certain lunchroom monitor. Suffice to say, his fifth-grade public school experience was far more enjoyable.
Corrigan ran for class president as a junior at Arizona State University. He also announced publicly his sexual orientation. “I just thought it was an important opportunity for me to instill a sense of pride in other students who may identify as gay,” said the 25-year-old Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania native. “My hope was that if they saw a candidate who was running for student body president who was not afraid to live his truth that, in turn, would serve as some type of inspiration to them.”
His parents were both surprised and supportive, fearing only for their son's acceptance in a sometimes intolerant and homophobic world but to the young Corrigan it was in line with his essential truthiness.
“It did shock them but I think they did realize that I was the type of individual to help change people’s hearts and minds on the issues of what it means to be gay in America,” said Corrigan. “I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to do that since coming out.”
And an effort he has made. He has interned in the Offices of Congressman Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Congressman Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). He even rubbed elbows with President Barack Obama as a volunteer driver in the president’s motorcade on a visit to University of Miami in 2012.
And, on January 5, 2015, Corrigan will join the staff of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office in New York.
Along the way, he also was a legislative affairs intern at the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, Fair Courts Project intern at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York, a law clerk at the United States Department of Justice in the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an intern at the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, and a law fellow at Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C.
Ever the slacker, at Miami Law, Corrigan’s honors and activities included: Who’s Who Among Law Students in America; Outstanding Student Public Interest Scholarship: 2013 and 2014; Society of Bar & Gavel (Honor Society); Dean’s List; Dean’s Certificate of Academic Achievement in State & Local Government Law; HOPE Public Interest Summer Fellow; 2012 and 2014 Research Assistant to Professor Osamudia R. James; University of Miami Board of Trustees, Student Delegate; Florida Bar Association, Law Student Division Governor; OUTLaw, Activism Chair; Empowered Youth, Mentor; Community Partnership for the Homeless; and National LGBT Bar Association.
“It has been my privilege to work with Brendan throughout his studies at Miami Law,” said Marni Lennon, Assistant Dean, Public Interest and Pro Bono, and director of HOPE Public Interest Resource Center. “From the very first day, when I had the pleasure of sitting with him at the welcome dinner, it was clear that Brendan had a unique and exemplary commitment to public service. His passion for justice, integrity, and dedication to promoting civic engagement has defined him in each and every stage of his education and throughout his externships.”
Corrigan credits his experiences and opportunities at Miami Law to reaching one of his most sought-after goals: working for Mrs. Clinton.
“I have had the necessary resources to pursue my career interests within the public interest sector because I’ve been extremely fortunate having funding provided to me through HOPE,” he said. “Often it can be difficult for students to pursue public interest careers because internships, externships, and clerkships are not paid, making them cost prohibitive for some students. I’m thankful for the special experiences I was able to develop and, in large ways, they have helped shape what I envision the future for myself to be. From a pedagogical perspective, my ability to write and analyze and to speak and to advocate have been enhanced through the education I have received here at Miami Law.”
Corrigan, who looks like a character on “Mad Men,” is graduating as one of 57 J.D. December graduates, and one of 10 graduating with a joint degree. Corrigan’s additional degree is in Public Administration. In a 2013 video discussed his conscious choice of this joint program to enhance his leadership skills and opportunity post-graduation to work in government relations and public policy capacity.
Armed with a B.S. in Political Science from Arizona State, and his two degrees from Miami Law, Corrigan begins his post-graduate life brimming with possibilities.
“I am fascinated by politics and public policy, so I would consider running for office if I saw a real opportunity to actually help people and effectuate meaningful change,” he said. “At one point in history, elected office was a crucible through which civic minded leaders – who were informed by their life experiences, principles, and a commitment to service – made crucial decisions, shaped policy, and served others. Today's politics have drifted far from that in the sense that reelection and self-aggrandizement are the objectives by which most politicians are motivated. I am hopeful that my generation can change that, and I would certainly like to be a part of that effort.”