Alumna Tackles Larger Social Justice Issues through Work in Local Government

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Former Miami Scholar Stephanie Rosendorf, J.D. ’16, was no stranger to politics and government when she came to Miami Law.  Before she enrolled, Rosendorf served as a Legislative Intern for State Representative Mark Pafford, volunteered with Ruth's List FL to help elect pro-choice Democrats, and was Deputy Campaign Manager during Cary Glickstein's successful campaign for Delray Beach mayor. With that background, it should come as no surprise that Rosendorf is excelling as an Aide for County Commissioner Nan Rich in Broward County.  

Stephanie Rosendorf, J.D. '16

Law School Years Filled With Hands-On Experiences

During her time at Miami Law, Rosendorf took advantage of everything the school had to offer, including two clinics, multiple clubs, and Moot Court.  She participated in the Immigration Clinic, helping to win a case for LGBT Jamaican immigrants, and the Center for Ethics and Public Service’s Civil Rights Project advocating for low-income tenants and homeowners.

“My most meaningful and important experiences at Miami Law occurred during my clinical and internship experiences,” said Rosendorf. “Meeting clients and hearing stories face-to-face continually reminded me of why I made the decision to pursue my law degree as a means of contributing to social justice and the betterment of our society.”  

Refining Advocacy Skills in Law School for Future Use in Government

Working for Miami Law's Civil Rights Project helped Rosendorf hone the skills that would ultimately serve her in government.  Rosendorf worked with co-Fellows and interns to persuade the City of Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board to reject zoning applications for a development project that would have negatively impacted the West Coconut Grove community—particularly low-income and minority residents.

“That experience showed me that whether you decide to practice law, work in government, do political or legal advocacy, there’s always a way to use your voice.”

Today, Rosendorf is on the other side of the table, meeting with activists and community leaders in her role as an Aide for County Commissioner Nan Rich.  

“A lot of what we’ve been doing for the last year is meeting with activists, as well as members of local advisory boards who specialize in particular issues, and working to make current ordinances even stronger and craft new ones.”  For example, the county recently amended the local human rights act to include source of income and status as a domestic violence victim as protected categories from housing discrimination.  Working in local government allows Rosendorf to address many of the issues that she worked on in law school.

Local Government Work Tackles Global Issues

“There are so many things that local governments do which people wouldn’t know of, but so much of it is intertwined between local, state, and federal like immigration, juvenile justice, climate change, affordable housing—which is good for me because I get to be exposed to a little bit of everything.”

“My experiences at Miami Law, and particularly with the Miami Scholars Program and my HOPE Summer Fellowship, opened my eyes to how I could use my law degree to further social justice goals, whether at the local level by enacting ordinances that affirmatively further fair housing, all the way up to macro-level national policies that impact millions of Americans in their day-to-day lives,” said Rosendorf.  

Going forward, Rosendorf hopes to focus her volunteer efforts on increasing affordable housing, protecting immigrants, and promoting racial and economic justice.

Rosendorf offers some advice for any law students who want to get involved in their community: “Try to pursue and develop as many relationships as you can while you’re in law school.  If there’s something that you’re interested in, find out if there’s a community organization or an attorney working on the issue, reach out.  Get out there, volunteer, and make yourself known.”  

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