Christine BackAlumna class of '08

Christine Back (’08) has not paused a beat since graduating from law school.

As a third-year student, she applied for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Attorney Honor Program, a way for the agency to recruit and then train lawyers.

“The types of cases the commission deals with concern whether somebody was refused a position because they were of a particular race, for example, or denied equal pay because of their gender,” said Back. “This area of the law has some tangible impact, and I like that.”

Out of hundreds of applicants for each position, Back was one of three selected in 2008.

She went to work for the EEOC, first as a trial lawyer doing affirmative civil rights litigation in New York and then, more recently, as an appellate attorney in Washington, D.C.

Back’s work also now includes cases in which the EEOC may take part as an amicus curiae—friend of the court—providing its expertise in anti-discrimination law. It’s something Back has never done, but that hasn’t ever slowed her down in the past.

Consider the pregnancy discrimination case she worked on in New York – taking depositions and defending them, researching parts of the law related to the case, and getting involved in strategy decisions.

“There was a pretty steep learning curve to it, and it was pretty fast-paced, but a very good introduction to pre-trial litigation,” she said. Back did have some practice in Professor Rick Rossein’s Trial Practice seminar.

“All of that was really hands-on preparation for the work that I ended up doing,” said Back.

Her interest in trial law went beyond the classroom and into a trial competition held by the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section. Her team, advised by Rossein, competed against other law schools on a Title VII employment discrimination case and placed second out of 10 schools in 2007.

With Rossein as teacher and advisor, Back began to think about employment discrimination as an area of law in which she might specialize.

Back’s prelaw life, while varied, had a common thread: public service. As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, she played an active role at the student paper, the Chicago Maroon, as a reporter and then news editor—even as she double majored in non-journalism-related fields.

After college, Back worked at the International Center for Journalists and later moved to New York to accept a position as a public school teacher in Brooklyn. There, she got involved with a committee to advise the principal on parent and teacher concerns.

“This was my first experience advocating for somebody else. Because of that role I began to think: What does it mean to represent someone else’s interests and to do it well? Is this something I should explore?” she wondered. Those questions and her interest in how the law could serve the public good led her to CUNY Law.

Now, three years after earning her law degree, Back feels she has made some wise choices and that she is making a positive difference in people’s lives.

“I am really happy doing what I am doing now. I am thankful for it and will continue to work with a focus on serving people and advancing some kind of good,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have had that experience thus far.”

MORE ON CUNY Equality

Christine Back

Fighting on Behalf of Employment Equality

Rick Rossein Professor, expert in Civil Rights and Employment Law

“Unlike other law schools, we don’t just outsource our students into field placements. We closely supervise them, pay attention to their placements, and provide an opportunity for the students to learn from one another.”

Christine Back

Fighting for Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel O’Donnell Alumnus, Class of '87

For Daniel O’Donnell being gay was not a factor in his life that would hold him back, instead it was a reason to keep moving forward and fight for humanities equal rights.

Christine Back

From Working Class Roots to Defending Worker Rights

Tara Jensen Alumna class of '06

Tara Jensen’s choice of law school was made easily when she searched online for the “most radical law school in the country” and found CUNY Law among those at the top of the list.

Christine Back

Championing Civil Rights

Stephen Bergstein Alumnus class of '93

For Stephen Bergstein success has come to him in many ways. Not only has he won many important cases but he has also been able to carry out his passion and beliefs throughout his life after leaving CUNY.

Christine Back

It's never too late to follow your dreams and fight for what you believe in

Lia Fiol-Matta Alumna, Class of '03

It’s never to late to follow your dreams and fight for what you believe in. For Lia Fiol-Matta age was not a factor that would hold her back from accomplishing her dreams.