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Alumni Spotlight

UH Law Center alumna Bonsu ’20 realizes lifelong aspiration seeking justice for clients at public defense firm in New York

Bethany Bonsu

Bethany Bonsu, a 2020 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center.

May 3, 2021 – Bethany Bonsu, a 2020 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, recently secured employment as a trial lawyer with New York County Defender Services, one of the most competitive positions in the United States, by working with the Career Development Office.

“At 10 years old, I had this idea that I would be able to powerfully impact other people’s lives,” Bonsu said. “I dreamed of being that Black woman that would inspire another little Black girl, and I’ve stayed true to that path of criminal justice reform.”

Bonsu transferred to the Law Center after researching the school and was excited to discover the school’s stellar reputation for trial work and many of the resources and programs such as the Death Penalty Clinic and the Juvenile Justice Clinic.

“When I was living in DeKalb, Illinois, I realized I wanted to go to a school that would provide me with more opportunities and support me on the path that I wanted to go,” Bonsu stated. “My contracts professor at that time recommended the Law Center and said that the University would provide great resources for someone who wanted to do what I wanted to do.”

Being a transfer student was a transition that Bonsu met head on when arriving to Houston. She quickly discovered that the Law Center had vital assets in assistance by working with Sondra Tennessee, who was serving as Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the time, to receive necessary textbooks and materials for class, making the transition seamless.

“I have never met someone whose long-term career planning was so deeply thought out and purposeful,” Paul Klinger, assistant director for Career Development stated. “She is a master planner with an inspiring amount of energy to make something better of the world. I am very excited to see the work she will do as an attorney and advocate for change.”

Focused on pursuing a career in civil rights, Bonsu worked closely with the Career Development Office to secure internship positions with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, California and New York, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Washington, D.C. and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. before becoming a trial attorney with New York County Defender Services.

“Bethany is a shining example of the model transfer student – one who utilized all the resources available to her at the University of Houston Law Center to make her career dreams happen,” said Tiffany Tucker, Assistant Dean for Career Development. “She came to the Law Center with a clear focus in public interest and human rights work and worked incredibly hard to break into some of the toughest markets in the country.”

Driven to gain as much experience as possible while with New York County Defender Services, Bonsu currently represents clients, negotiates with prosecutors, advocates orally and writes motions. Bonsu will gain experience with policy and interacting with legislators to reform the criminal legal system, and hopes to eventually serve as a civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice in the Civil Rights Division where she previously interned.

“Always utilize the resources that the Law Center has,” Bonsu said. “When you take advantage of the network and all UHLC has available, you can literally make your dreams come true, and I am a living testament to that.”

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