Hailey Jenkins ’17 Journey From the Ordway Building to the Mass. State House
Mar 16, 2023
As a high schooler in Zanesville, Ohio, Hailey Jenkins had a strong interest in political science, with an eye on law school.
“I always knew I wanted to go to law school in the northeast,” she recalls, sitting in her office as Associate Counsel for the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I wanted a very individualized experience that would get me where I wanted to go.”
Florida Southern College would offer Jenkins that hands-on, experiential education. Jenkins earned her Bachelor’s Degree in just three years, graduating in 2017 with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, majoring in political science, while minoring in communications. She parlayed that into acceptance into Boston College Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2020.
Under the guidance of Dr. R. Bruce Anderson, Associate Professor of Political Science, Pre-Law Adviser, and Dr. Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay Jr. Chair in American History, Government, and Civics at Florida Southern, Jenkins flourished. Anderson’s advice and direction helped Jenkins make the most of her time at Florida Southern, always asking “What can we do to get you where you want to go?”
As President of Florida Southern’s College Democrats, Jenkins was challenged by Anderson to formulate policy papers by analyzing data opinions, critically thinking about positions and outcomes, to present at regional and national conferences alongside Ph.D. candidates. This rigorous routine prepared Jenkins for the joys of law school.
Another major step in Jenkins’ development came via her internship.
“I had the opportunity to intern at the 10th Judicial Circuit’s public defender’s office,” Jenkins remembers. “It was a paid internship where I got to work with the PD’s, interview potential clients in the office and in jail, and get some hands on experience with criminal law. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
This critical experience led Jenkins to learning that criminal law was not the avenue she wanted to pursue. She would add several other internship opportunities, including with the Ohio Democratic Party in preparation for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the U.S. Department of Justice in both Boston and Washington, and with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
With a focus on Constitutional, Administrative, and Civil Rights Law, she utilizes the law to advance the public good at the intersection of law and policy, organizing ideas, strategies, and people around issues deeply important to an equitable society.
Making the most of her time at BC Law, she was awarded the Susan Grant Desmarais Award, which recognizes a student for public service achievement and leadership. She also earned a Boston College Law School Public Interest Fellowship, which allowed her to complete a post-graduate position with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Civil Rights Division.
From there, she has been with the Committee on Ways and Means for more than two years. She works on the budget for Massachusetts, where she takes good ideas and formulates them into good legislation to advance to the senate.
“It is such a natural fit,” Jenkins says of her role, which forces a granular way of thinking about how practical laws can be.
She remembers back to the training from Dr. Anderson about presenting papers. What are the challenges to this proposal? Is it sustainable? What is the infrastructure? Is it popular? She understands that she must bring the policy down to earth, examining all view points, to put forth proposed legislation that is good for the Commonwealth, and will pass the senate floor.
Jenkins has remained active since graduating from Florida Southern. In 2019, she helped codify “Law Week,” now a three-day, end-of-year instructional conference that brings together groups of alumni, lawyers, and judges to inform and engage with students interested in working in the legal community. While “Law Week” had been held ad hoc for years, it was formally adopted in 2019, as the pandemic waned. Jenkins helped organize and participated in the inaugural event.
“Your time is what you make of it,” Jenkins advises current college students. “Make the most of it.”
As an undergrad, in addition to her role in the College Democrats, she was heavily involved in student government, greek life, and Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Honor Society.
Jenkins actively volunteers as a Strong Leader Mentor for Strong Women, Strong Girls, and as the Vice President of the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the American Constitution Society. She is an admitted attorney in both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of New York.