July 22, 2021
July 2021: Joel Dodge
Joel Dodge (he/him)
Co-Chair, New York Lawyer Chapter
I grew up in a middle-class family in Syracuse, New York. I went to a state college and received a partial scholarship to attend law school. As the first lawyer in my family, I helped pay for my education by working at a grocery store.
My mom is a nurse, and imparted to me the importance of caring for the least well off. My dad was involved in local politics when I was younger, and took me canvassing and to political functions. He shared his liberal values with me, as well as his broader faith in civic engagement and the democratic process to make people’s lives better.
My parents also emphasized the importance of ideas. That is what made a career in law most appealing to me: the notion that a powerful idea and persuasive argument could advance justice and better people’s lives. While finishing law school, I became interested in the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, King v. Burwell, which threatened to take away healthcare for millions. I developed with a novel legal argument in defense of the ACA which I published on my personal blog, and then worked with a professor to convert into an amicus brief filed at the Supreme Court. My defense of the ACA was discussed by multiple Supreme Court Justices at oral argument.
Right after graduation, I started my legal career at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan doing commercial litigation, election law, and significant pro bono work. After almost three years at the firm, I moved into public interest work following the 2016 election. I joined the Center for Reproductive Rights working to ensure access to reproductive healthcare, where I have helped work on legal strategy around two major Supreme Court cases -- June Medical Services v. Russo, and now Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
I have also used my legal training to contribute to the world of public policy ideas. I’ve written for a number of publications about public policy (including for ACS), and have served as a policy adviser to several candidates for public office.
I have also sought to help develop the next generation of legal leaders by teaching a legal practice workshop at Columbia Law School and mentoring law students through ACS. ACS is an invaluable network for thought leadership, mobilization, and community. I especially appreciated ACS as a refuge during the Trump administration where concerned lawyers could connect to mount a defense of American values and institutions. And now, it is a wellspring of ideas for the future of progressive legal and policy thinking, and a forceful voice for a more fair-minded judiciary. I look forward to being part of the ACS family for many years to come, and working side by side with other ACS attorneys to continue the work of achieving our country.