David Gardner at the 2018 Public Interest retreat
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Duke Law

An Extraordinary Advocate: David Gardner J.D.’20

David Gardner was always intent on a career in public interest law, but over his 1L summer in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, he was introduced to disability rights work.

He was invited to work on a wide-range of cases, including matters involving HIV discrimination and accessibility, by attorneys who were clearly passionate about their work. “It felt like everyone there was trying to do the right thing that would lead to outcomes that make a difference in people’s lives,” he says.

Gardner went on to spend three semesters in the Health Justice Clinic, which he calls his “rock” at Duke Law. His mentors, Clinical Professors Allison Rice, the clinic’s director, and Hannah Demeritt J.D.’04, the supervising attorney, pushed him to build skills and reflect on his strengths and passion.

“I know that I learn best from hands-on experience,” he says. “The skills and tips that I develop working on a case will stick with me and I’ll use them for the rest of my life.”