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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Helen Tran '12 will focus on the Affordable Care Act
By Maria Iacobo

      Well before she decided to attend law school, Helen Tran ’12 knew she wanted a career that would allow her to address the issues surrounding poverty and especially healthcare.  The native of Alhambra, Calif. attended USC, majored in public policy, management, and planning, obtained her master’s degree in health administration, and moved right on to law school.
      “I wanted to find ways to shape public policy, and one of those ways is through the court system,” Tran says.  “I went to law school to become empowered to address social issues through litigation.”
      Three years later, Tran is the recipient of a fellowship with the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) in Washington, D.C.   Tran drafted a proposal to work on the new Affordable Care Act during the two-year fellowship.
      “I feel very lucky because it’s exactly what I envisioned myself doing after law school,” she says.  “It combines my interest in public policy and litigation, and it’s a good way to start my career on issues that I care about and to hone my legal and policy skills.”
      Tran will focus on several areas of the act, including the non-discrimination provisions, and will build relationships between various non-profits and the Asian American community to make sure information is disseminated in appropriate languages for vulnerable populations.  She will also work with other attorneys to help AAJC expand its healthcare practice.
      “I was drawn to AAJC because of its work in civil rights,” said Tran.
      Tran received the good news just a few hours before graduating earlier this month.  She credits one of her professors – Clare Pastore – as being one of her role models.
      “When I think about people who have remarkable careers, I think of her,” Tran says.   “She has an amazing career in public interest and she’s definitely one of my role models.  One of the courses that shaped my law school career was her Poverty Law class.  We looked at different legal issues that people living in poverty constantly face.  The course balanced the practical and the theoretical, provided lots of data and taught us how to use different legal strategies.  This class showed me the impact that attorneys could have on alleviating poverty.”
      Tran says she chose USC Law because she wanted a community that cared about working with low-income communities.  The school has numerous public interest programs and provides opportunities for students to work with non-profit organizations throughout Los Angeles.  The bonus was that Tran found community members who welcomed her contributions and encouraged her to pursue her dreams.
      “Having alumni who are part of the community and who reach out to us as students really helped me develop my career,” she says.  “It gave me good exposure to the different attorney practices out there and how even attorneys in different practice areas care about the Asian American community.”
    Tran has been on the board of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County as one of its law student representatives this past year.  And it was a board member who turned her on to the scholarship opportunity.
    “Being at USC Law helped me be a part of a large law community,” she says.

Click here for more information on the NAPABA Law Foundation Partners and In-House Counsel Community Law Fellowship at the AAJC.  



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