Richmond Native Rachael Deane loves history. She says, "If we want to move forward, we need to know where we’ve been – as a society and nation.” Graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in history from the University of Mary Washington, Rachael recalls taking a human rights course that taught her that there is dignity in every human life. In particular, she was troubled by the amount of poverty in the world.

“Poverty is awful! There are people who need help accessing social benefit programs, affordable housing, public education – these are things that we take for granted that people in poverty struggle to maintain on a daily basis.” Rachael was able to see the effects of poverty on an international level when she visited Romania and Honduras while in college. In Romania, she helped a local church working in the community and in Honduras, she helped paint and remodel an orphanage. “I wanted to apply what I learned with the hope that I could help others lead more fulfilling lives.” 

After college, Rachael took time off to gain a new perspective and accepted a position working in higher education. While she gained valuable professional experience, she realized a need to do more and decided to apply to law school. Her choice of schools was easy. “I already knew that Richmond was a great school and I wanted to come home and give back to the place where I grew up.” 

Rachael says one of the most valuable lessons she learned at Richmond is, “don’t measure your worth as a lawyer by your grades. You can come out of law school and be successful, no matter what.” 

Rachael has gained valuable practical experience while at Richmond. Participating and winning awards in Moot Court competitions have helped her to think on her feet and sharpened her oral advocacy skills. Equipped with a third-year practice certificate, Rachael has tried real cases and argued motions in court dealing with public housing. She has also worked with the Law School’s Children’s Law Center to help kids with learning and emotional disabilities become IDEA compliant.

After graduation, Rachael was hired by Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME) in Richmond to work on fair housing law matters. HOME works to eliminate housing discrimination and unfair practices, decrease concentrations of property, and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership.