Jacqueline Tosto: 'In Order to Be a Better Lawyer for Your Clients, You Have to Take Care of Yourself.'

If/When/How’s Quick Question series highlights the work of our Reproductive Justice Fellows, introducing our network to the incredible advocates who are dedicating their lives to the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. We’re so proud of the work they’re doing at placement organizations across the country to ensure that everyone has the ability to safely decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families, and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms. But we can’t support them without you: Please donate $10 to help us give aspiring and new lawyers the resources they need to thrive. And if you can’t give — share!

Jacqueline Tosto

Jacqueline Tosto (Boston University School of Law ’19) was an active member the law school’s public interest community. She was a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic, where she worked with non-governmental organizations on human rights abuses in Tibet and, also traveled to Geneva to meet with special rapporteurs to discuss said abuses committed by the Chinese government. She also was a member of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic and worked on various cases with potential historical procedural errors resulting in wrongful convictions. She also served as the Gala Chair of BU’s Public Interest Project, which helps raise grant money for roughly 60 law students a year who work in unpaid public interest jobs for the summer. She also interned at KRW Lawin Belfast, Northern Ireland, focusing on post-conflict human rights as well as criminal defense cases and worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, researching the effects of the lack of paid family and medical leave on mothers and children in the New England area. After her first year of law school, she interned at the AIDS Action Committee of Boston, helping those in the community with HIV/AIDS attain legal aid on various civil issues.

Prior to law school, Jacqueline graduated magna cum laude from the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College in New York City with a Bachelor’s Degree in political science and human rights.

We asked Jacqueline to tell us a little about herself as she prepares to begin her Reproductive Justice Fellowship year at SisterLove, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia this fall.

If/When/How: Who are you, and where are you from?

Jacqueline Tosto: I’m Jacqueline Tosto, she/her, and I was Peekskill, New York, in the suburbs of New York City, but I just finished law school in Boston.

If/When/How: Who or what drew you to reproductive justice work?

JT: My mother taught reproductive rights as an educator for teenagers throughout my early life. She was influential on my understanding of my own rights and how important they are. I also credit Prof. Khiara Bridges, who taught Reproductive Justice at Boston University School of Law and was instrumental in helping me understand the foundations of RJ and how to use the law to effect positive change. As for what: I have always believed in reproductive rights, but I took them for granted. After the 2016 election, I became more concerned not only with what could happen to my rights, but would happen to people less privileged than I am. Throughout law school I became more passionate about reproductive justice and decided I wanted to work in this field after graduation.

If/When/How: What do you want to change (or what are you changing) about what it means to be a lawyer?

JT: I think it is easy for public interest lawyers to get dragged down by the pressure and stress of their work. I want there to be more self-care in the legal field. In order to be a better lawyer for your clients, you have to take care of yourself.

If/When/How: What are you most excited about going into the RJFP?

JT: I am excited to gain hands-on experience in a field I am passionate about, particularly as I am about to begin my legal career. The ability to both work on policy and with people is a unique experience and I am sure I will gain fundamental legal skills that I will carry with me throughout my career.

If/When/How: What makes you powerful?

JT: An assertive nature, extreme self-confidence, constantly questioning the status quo, a loud voice, and wearing the color black.

If/When/How: What do you get up to when you’re not lawyering?

JT: Playing trivia, re-watching episodes of NBC comedies, hanging with my friends, and dismantling the patriarchy.

If you’re as excited as we are to see Jacqueline succeed, donate $10 to help If/When/How support new lawyers like her.