Inspired by people in Washington, D.C. who had all the “cool” jobs, Thomas Hart, JD ’10, decided to pursue a legal education. Hart searched diligently for schools that had a range of public interest programs, professors with practical experience, and clinical programs that could offer him real-world experience. That search led him to Miami Law where Hart felt that he could attain an outstanding law school education while also enjoying the culture that Miami had to offer. His path has led him to a fulfilling career of advocacy.
After graduation, Hart was offered the Minnesota Justice Foundation Staff Attorney position at the University of Minnesota Law School where he worked for over four years, doubling the amount of public service and pro bono programming. He later worked at Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative which aspires to solve the homelessness crisis through developing affordable housing, creating community advocates, and effecting policy change.
“Homeless clients have thanked me for helping with their cases, and I can see that their lives have been changed in a real way,” said Hart. “They have stability now. Minnesota is cold and knowing that people had a warm place to sleep motivated my work.”
Recently, Hart began working as a Disability Policy Engagement Director with Anthem, Inc., a health insurance company in Minnesota. He works with community advocates to inform Anthem on disability issues and create innovative health insurance products for Medicaid and Medicare recipients. This new position in the for-profit world was a change of pace for Hart, but he believes that it “will really allow me to represent the communities I’ve been working with for years at a key table with decision makers. I’m excited for the new challenges and glad to be able to put my skills to use in support of Anthem’s innovative strategy.”
While at Miami Law, Hart’s experience was both challenging and fulfilling. He served as a HOPE Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Advocacy Project, worked with the Center for Ethics and Public Service, and participated in student organizations such as OUTLaw, the Environmental Law Society, and the Constitutional Law Society.
One of his memorable experiences in law school took place during his second year when he was asked to speak at the Spanish Consulate during the first Miami Beach Pride Celebration. He also won a national legal writing competition and was awarded a clerkship with the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation during his 2L summer. During his 3L year, he clerked for Shakopee Mdewakanton Chief Justice John Jacobson.
Hart advises students to identify their motivating forces and be open to creative employment options. “Even though public interest careers are not the highest paid or most glamorous, they are the most satisfying,” he said. “A J.D. is a degree for doing good for the community, and I cannot imagine doing anything else at this point.”