April 8, 2011
ATLANTA -- Six Georgia State law students are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this spring semester. Their backgrounds, the work they do, and the paths they took to get to the CDC vary widely: one has a journalism background, another is a concert violinist, three hold master’s degrees, and one has a PhD in genetics.
of the students, the connections they made through Georgia State Law were critical to their landing their current positions at the CDC. Jane "Danny" Vincent, 2L, is working in the CDC branch of the HHS Office of the General Counsel through the law school’s externship program. "Getting into the CDC is tough," said Vincent. "I’ve been around public health people for seven years, and most of them started at the CDC as contractors. The College of Law has a great relationship with the CDC’s general counsel’s office through the externship program."
As an extern, Vincent works directly with other attorneys. Her work is more typical of a general law office practice than may be experienced by other law students or other lawyers who work in other CDC divisions in policy-related or other positions. "I am assisting the senior attorneys on their projects," said Vincent. "The biggest project I had when I started was preparing for an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hearing defending the agency against an employment discrimination claim. I have assisted with interviewing witnesses, read depositions, and reviewed the independent investigator’s report. I’ve also been involved in research projects looking at state laws."
Abigail Ferrell, 3L, began working with the CDC’s Public Health Law Program in the summer of 2010, after Georgia State graduate Rebecca Polinsky, JD 2007, got to know her through the HeLP Legal Services Clinic and encouraged her to apply. After the summer internship, Ferrell was invited to remain in the program as an ORISE Research Fellow. With a journalism background, she is the principal researcher and writer for the CDC’s Public Health Law News, a Web-based publication with over 35,000 subscribers.
"The health law program at Georgia State is an incredible asset to any student interested in pursuing a health law career," said Ferrell. "It’s an asset both for its great variety of courses and the professors’ expertise, as well as for the wide health law community that it fosters. Without our health law program, I would not be working at the CDC."
A professional violinist before coming to law school, Raymond Lindholm, 3L, was encouraged to apply for a 2010 summer internship with the CDC by Lindsay Culp, JD 2010, who had been a fellow classmate in the law school’s Health Legislation & Advocacy class and who is now a full-time CDC employee working in the Public Health Law Program (PHLP). Lindholm was hired to work on an interdisciplinary collaboration between the PHLP and the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Undertaking a comprehensive 50-state survey of state drug laws, he investigated state responses to the recent sharp rise in prescription drug poisoning and overdose rates. Lindholm was asked to continue as an ORISE Research Fellow through his last year of law school.
Lindholm’s research and writing has had a tangible impact at the CDC. "I helped author an article on seven strategic approaches to prescription drug abuses which will be submitted for publication this year," he said. "I am also presenting a poster on this topic at the Safe States Conference in Iowa this April." Most of Lindholm’s work is directly related to the law, and he has learned a great deal about the differences between legal research and writing for legal journals and scientific writing for science journals. "I enjoy learning about interesting public health issues in an interdisciplinary environment," he explained, "and also being able simultaneously to apply and build my legal analysis and research skills."
While these three students found their way to the CDC through connections made at Georgia State Law, the other law students were already full-time employees at the CDC before enrolling in law school. To read about these three other students, please go to Part 2 of this story by clicking here.