After receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health, Sarita Pillai ’09 began to contemplate even more education—in part because, as she jokes, her overachieving family left her no other option, but also because of the work of Paul Farmer.
Farmer, who founded the international health and social justice organization Partners In Health, advocates using a rights-based framework to address public health problems. Pillai, who had read a great deal about Farmer as a graduate student, found his work inspiring. “That’s really what made me think I should apply to law school,” she recalls.
At Columbia, Pillai has taken a broad array of courses, including those examining health and human rights. She also served as articles editor for the Human Rights Law Review. Following her Law School graduation, Pillai will work for one year as a pro bono visiting attorney in the international legal department of the Center for Reproductive Rights, before joining Dewey & LeBoeuf in New York.
Although Pillai eagerly awaits the start of her corporate legal experience in 2010, she is also looking forward to working with an organization that unites her dual interests of public health and the law. “You can take a law degree and work in so many places, and I love that,” says Pillai, who is the first in her family to become a lawyer. “The Law School has given me the confidence to know that I can apply this degree to any area that I want.