Ellen J. Musinsky
Externship Director/Visiting Professor Emeritus
After 20 years teaching in Pierce Law’s in-house clinical programs, Professor Musinsky was selected as Director of the School’s Externship Program. A graduate of Northeastern Law School, her early training included a variety of legal placements. She believes that such placements greatly enhance traditional education by allowing students to observe and participate in legal practice, while processing the learning with a faculty member at the school.
Working with students who are in a variety of settings, she has noted the universality of skills that all lawyers use, and has helped students recognize that there are core values to the profession they will be entering.
“In my many years working in our in-house clinic, I noted how often students had difficulty understanding how the law worked. Our clinics offer the opportunity to further develop the information and skills that a student learns in traditional classes. By working on real-life legal issues, students are called upon to problem solve, which is after all what lawyers do. Needing to solve problems requires students to think about what they know, and to develop strategies for learning new information. It also requires that they use the skills they have learned and developed, to do something that feels important.
For many students, having real problems is a motivator that brings together the skills and information learned in the classroom. Externships offer the same opportunity, only the types of law, and the settings are varied.
Becoming a lawyer, for many, is a life changing experience. During the externship semester, students realize how challenging and, hopefully, rewarding a legal career can be. Externship education is an opportunity for students to develop an awareness of themselves as human beings in a law practice, confronting and exploring the practical, personal and ethical issues that inevitably arise. I am fortunate to be in a position, where I continually experience the excitement of new lawyers, and where I can help them work through their personal challenges on their road to professional success.”
In addition to her interest in clinical education, Professor Musinsky has expertise in areas involving the family, social security and public benefits law. She actively litigated in New Hampshire Courts for 25 years. Additionally she did extensive policy work, by drafting and advocating for legislative change. She was one of the founders of the New Hampshire Women’s Lobby and the New Hampshire Citizen’s Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Rights. She has served as Chair and Treasurer of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and has served on the Board of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. She currently serves on the State’s Fatality Review Board. Professor Musinsky has been a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Committee on Delivery of Legal Services.
She currently teaches and supervises externships.