The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Law & Criminal Justice

Rebecca Rubin Rebecca Rubin ’09, Legal Associate, Citizens Disability 

Rebecca, a legal studies major, kicked off her post-UMass legal career with a position as a Legal Assistant for Harmon Law Offices, a real estate firm where she worked in the bankruptcy department.  She then took a Paralegal position with BLA Schwartz, PC, an intellectual property firm.  She held one more Legal Assistant position, with Foster & Eldridge, a medical malpractice defense firm, before attending law school at Suffolk University Law School. 

While in law school, she was the Law Clerk for the Honorable James V. Menno at the Plymouth County Probate and Family Court.  She was also a Research Assistant for Professor Charles Kindregan.   In her final year of law school, Rebecca became a 3:03 Certified Student Attorney in Family Law Unit, Divorce Work Group, for Greater Boston Legal Services, where she represented indigent victims of domestic violence in divorce, custody, and visitation complaints.  She was also a Law Clerk in her final spring in law school for Lawson & Weitzen. 

Upon graduating in May of 2015, Rebecca began her current position as a Legal Associate for Citizens Disability, a social security disability advocacy group. While at UMass, Rebecca also:

  • Wrote an Honors Thesis on The Eyes of Society: Prison Systems in America & Finding an Escape toward  Individualism
  • Volunteered for the Safe Haven Project in Martha’s Vineyard, supporting children with HIV
  • Volunteered for Habitat for Humanity as part of the Alpha Lambda Delta service fraternity

About the Industry

The fields of law and criminal just have a variety of areas on which focus your attention.  From the work done by law firms in litigation, defense, real estate law, family law, immigration law, etc., to legal departments in large corporations, there are many areas of law to study and practice.  Alternatively, those interested in the legal system can get involved in the judicial arena, law enforcement, government entities such as the district attorney’s office or public defenders’ organizations.  Additionally, those interested in the societal problems that can lead to incarceration can work in research and policy in areas such as addiction services or poverty law.

Sample Classes

We urge you to talk to your major/departmental advisor and explore available courses in SPIRE. Remember not to constrain yourself to classes within your major.


LEGAL 252 - Law and Personal Freedom: The nature of freedom in the United States, focusing on constitutional guarantees founded in the historical role of the law.


LEGAL 293 - Race, Citizen, and the American Constitution: The role that law and courts have played in shaping, defining, and constructing the concepts of race and American citizenship over time.


SOC241 - Criminology: Introduction to the study of criminology, definitions of crime, criminals and delinquents, demographics of crime and criminals, the work of the courts, law, police, and punishment in the production and administration of crime and criminals, society and crime, problems of prevention and control.


SOC343 - Hate Crime in America: This class places hate crimes within the broader social and political context of intergroup antagonism (e.g. prejudice, ethnic violence, and homophobia, etc.).


SOC347 - Corporate Crime: The rise of the "corporate actor" in terms of social organization and social policy, and concerning interest, rights, power, and trust. Organizational processes and deviance in production markets; deviance by, within, among, and against businesses as corporations. The roles of government and state in both the social production of deviance and its regulation: deviance by, within, among, and against government(s). 


ECON 394LI - Law & Economics: The legal system as an economic system, where penalties and damages act as prices for various activities.  We will ask whether the enforcement of legal rules leads to an efficient allocation of resources.  Focus on property, contract and tort law.


POLISCI 356 - International Law: Development of basic rules of public international law. Evidence for law, international legal personality, jurisdiction, treatment of individuals, law of treaties, law of the sea, resort to force, and peaceful settlement of disputes


STPEC 291F S - Prisons, Race & the Social Order: This student-led colloquium will explore the racial, economic, and disciplinary roles of imprisonment and the prison from it's historical origins in the 17th and 18th-centuries into the present, with the American judicial/penal system since the late 1960's as our primary focus.


Depending on your main area of interest, your academic pathway will shift. To explore this field, you can take courses that will provide you with knowledge and skills in:

  • Research - for careers in law firms you will need strong research and writing skills.
  • Critical thinking - you will learn to reflect upon and evaluate your own ideas and to analyze problems using evidence-based information.
  • Communication skills - you will learn to actively listen to others and to articulate your ideas in writing and verbally in a way that will help you achieve your goals.
Co-Curricular Activities

Being involved in on and off campus activities and organizations will give you experience and help you hone in on what you really love doing. Consider joining organizations that will provide you with a deeper understanding of the professional areas you’re considering. You’ll learn more about the field, meet people who share your interests, and have something to include on your resume to show your dedication. Go to the RSO webpage and start searching!


Examples include:

  • Mock Trial Team
  • Pre-Law Society
  • Model UN
  • Student Government Association (SGA) – Conduct Advisor
  • SGA Student Judiciary
Internships and Experience

Explore the different aspects of this industry through internships, co-ops, job shadowing, and other experiential opportunities. This will help you hone in on your interests while building an impressive knowledge base and resume for when you enter the job market. Many students interested in law complete internships with Student Legal Services at UMass.  This is a great way to test the waters.  Over the course of your time at UMass, you may want to try different areas of the legal landscape to find the area that feels like the best fit. SBS students and alumni have completed internships in this field at places like:


  • MA District Attorney’s Office
  • US Federal Court System
  • MA State Police
  • Student Legal Services - UMass
  • Quabbin Mediation
  • City of Holyoke
  • Immigration & Business Law Group, LLP
  • Committee for Public Counsel Services


Find an internship or co-op that suits you by using these search and application tips and by searching the Career Connect database.

Sample Job Titles
  • Senior Trial Lawyer
  • Associate Attorney
  • Partner
  • Lawyer
  • Family Staff Law Attorney