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December 01, 2013

December 2013: Jehmal Hudson

Jehmal Hudson currently serves as the Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison for the Federal Regulatory Commission.  His typical day involves attending hearings, briefing agency witnesses, and preparing materials for members of Congress.  He says the best part of his job is collaborating with Congressional members, staff and his colleagues.

Jehmal points to his fellowship with then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as cultivating his understanding of the congressional process and igniting his passion for the legislative process. He credits his communication, analytical, and negotiation skills—all which make him successful at his job—to his alma mater, the University of Vermont Law School.  Developing policies that would make people’s lives better was his motivation for pursuing a career in law.     

As a person with dyslexia, Jehmal finds the high volume of reading that he must do for his job challenging.  To compensate, he prioritizes what he reads, comes in early, stays late, and works on the weekends to catch up.  It goes without saying that he has a strong work ethic. 

Jehmal’s advice to law students with disabilities? “Keep working hard and never give up. Your challenges will feel insurmountable, but you will persevere.” He also encourages them to find a mentor. While in law school, Jehmal participated in the ABA Commission on Disability Rights’ Mentorship Program. “My mentor, a Federal Public Defender in Seattle, reassured me that a dyslexic attorney can be successful.” At the time, this is something Jehmal needed to hear. He recalls overhearing his fellow law school classmates referring to students with learning disabilities as “stupid.” Today, Jehmal pays it forward, mentoring  law students with disabilities. One mentee of whom he is extremely proud, and who also has dyslexia, is successfully practicing intellectual property law in Miami.

Jehmal acknowledges that determining if and when to disclose a hidden disability is problematic. “If you don’t disclose and get your reasonable accommodations, you can suffer academically.”  At the same time, Jehmal admits that his fear of being discriminated against led him not to disclose his dyslexia when applying for jobs following graduation.  “I was confident that I could do the job.”

What does the future hold? Jehmal has many goals, one of which is to be a clinical law professor. And who better to teach the next generation of lawyers!