Associate Attorney, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (Los Angeles, CA)
Jenny Denny graduated from Loyola in May 2013 and after taking the Illinois bar exam, moved to Washington, DC, to begin her career at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs through the Presidential Management Fellows program. She completed a detail (6-month placement) to the U.S. Department of Justice in the Educational Opportunities of the Civil Rights Division. During that placement, her cases included enforcing racial desegregation court orders in two Louisiana parishes, monitoring a settlement agreement regarding sex-based harassment in a Minnesota school district, and investigating sexual assaults at a school for children with disabilities in Hawaii. In these cases, she reviewed and evaluated constituent complaints, developed investigative strategies, assessed data, conducted interviews of school officials, and drafted court motions and settlement agreements.
After that position, Jenny completed a second Presidential Management Fellowship with the Office of the Vice President of the United States, where she served as a detailee to the Legal Counsel Office and Violence Against Women Team. In that role, Jenny advised the Vice President on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, served as a liaison to the domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy community, and promoted collaboration across federal agencies around issues of sex and gender-based violence.
Currently, Jenny is the Managing Director of Policy at Educators 4 Excellence Los Angeles. In that role, Jenny communicates the latest relevant district and state education policy news to members and stakeholders; formulates organizational policy stances in ways that elevate the teaching profession and student outcomes; devises chapter-wide advocacy plans and practices in response to current policy issues; and engages key lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists, and administrative district, state, and/or federal officials in the work and member voices of the E4E-LA chapter. Additionally, Jenny works to build relationships with local and state education policy organizations, advocacy organizations, and other key stakeholders on behalf of E4E-LA, and identifies shared stances and strategic opportunities for E4E-LA to collaborate with other organizations.
While at Loyola, Jenny was a ChildLaw Fellow and focused her classes and experiences around education law and policy. Through the Education Practicum, Jenny provided special education advocacy assistance to families of students with disabilities through Equip for Equality and gained litigation experience by working on a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in a local school district. She also clerked at the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and represented youth in foster care through Loyola’s ChildLaw Clinic.
Prior to law school, Jenny was a 2008 Teach for America corps member and taught first grade at a Washington, DC, charter school while earning her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from George Mason University. She has continued to mentor her former students through the years and sees them regularly through school visits or community events.
The aspect or aspects of your work you find most satisfying:
When I was teaching prior to law school, I was made intimately aware of how students can be denied a quality education because they are stuck in an underperforming school system or for another reason outside of their control. I ultimately left teaching because I was overwhelmed with the lack of accountability these schools faced and how that negatively affected my students’ educational outcomes. What is most satisfying about my job now is that I can hold schools accountable, work toward improved outcomes for students through educator development, and work with districts to ensure that all students are safe and have access to a quality education regardless of their demographics. Since law school, each of my jobs has been the perfect mix of my education background and my law degree, and I have learned so much from each position that I have been able to apply in my new role.
How Loyola supported you in your career development:
The Loyola faculty was an incredible sounding board and resource for me while in school and even since graduation. Every moment I have spent with them has been an investment in my development. After completing my 1L year, I was eager to get more experience in education law but did not know where to start. I was thankful for the Education Law Practicum that not only placed me into an externship that cultivated my interests in education law but also guided me through the major education law cases and issues that every lawyer in the field needs to know. Plus, unlike other universities, Loyola does not just provide the basic education law classes; the diversity and number of education law classes available to students made me feel confident when competing for internships and jobs. Between all the available classes and experiences, I felt like I was really able to test my knowledge and gain confidence in my abilities.
Advice to Loyola students seeking opportunities in the field:
Education law is a very diverse field, so you need to think through where you want to have an impact. There are incredible opportunities at the local, state and federal levels in addition to both the private and public sectors, but each is very unique. Use internships and classes to figure out where you want to contribute and how lawyers are used in the different levels. Get the most out of your Loyola connections by talking with professors and alumni to build your understanding of the field and chart a path for yourself.
Dated: January 6, 2016