Like many others in the Washington region, Northeast Washington resident Laura Goldin works for the federal government. The 31-year-old lawyer practices labor and employment litigation. She’s also involved with local professional and Jewish organizations, including the D.C. branch of AJC’s younger generation program, ACCESS, the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia and Jewish Women’s International’s Young Professionals Network. When she isn’t practicing law or networking, you might catch her walking her dog, an English springer spaniel named Sammy. We met up at her home to discuss her work and what she’s doing to try to repair the world.
You’ve recently become involved with ACCESS DC. What’s your role there and what do you most enjoy about it?
I recently joined ACCESS DC because I saw them advertise a trip to Berlin through the Germany Up Close organization. I was very excited about the opportunity, so through that I tried to get more involved in ACCESS DC, and what I love most about it is it has a global focus. They focus on American Jewish issues. They also try to bridge those with issues that Jews are dealing with abroad in other countries.
Tell us a little bit about your trip to Germany. Do you travel a lot?
I try to travel as much as I can. I love it. I love traveling domestically. I love seeing different parts of this country. I love traveling internationally. I went on this Germany trip because I wanted to explore my own feelings towards Germany, you know, aware of the past and the Holocaust. Even though I’m not a grandchild of survivors, it’s been a fascinating subject to me my whole life and I wanted to really meet young Germans and try to dispel stereotypes that I had in my head. It was a phenomenal experience. It was life-changing.…For me, it really helped me see Germany in a completely different light and see Germans not as this evil group of people, but as everyday people who have a great culture of their own and who are really trying to make good on past wrongs, which is a lot more than I can say for other countries.
What do you enjoy about your work as an attorney and how, if at all, does your Jewish identity affect your work?
What I like most about my work is that I have to deal with people all day. I serve clients, and they’re at the heart of what we do. My Jewish identity and ethics come into play because I am under a code of confidentiality as an attorney and I have to approach situations very ethically and I also have to treat others with respect —opposing counsel or people who are on the other side of the table. I always have to be cognizant that they have their own interests they’re putting forth and we’re going to be civilized and professional. I think my Jewish upbringing really contributes to that.
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Do you see yourself as a global agent for change, and what is a hot button issue for you right now?
I hope that I can be a big agent for change in the future. As a government attorney, I’m a civil servant, so I try to do my best to serve the United States government. I don’t deal with any international issues, but I hope that through my involvement with different Jewish organizations I can play even some miniscule role at shaping public discourse. Right now, obviously big issues for me are the security of Israel. I’m watching the Israeli elections, and also watching to see how Europe is dealing with anti-Semitism that’s spreading.
What advice do you have for other young, Jewish professionals, who are just starting to break into their careers?
When I first moved here, I didn’t know many people and I just started looking and seeing what different Jewish organizations for young people were around. I would say just go to all the events that you can, get a flavor for what these different organizations do and you’ll eventually be able to pick the ones that you’re really passionate about and then you meet so many interesting people through them, so I think it’s really just a matter of putting yourself out there. As for professional networking, I’m a member of the Women’s Bar Association of D.C. I think it’s a great forum for women lawyers of all ages to network with other lawyers, and because it has a female focus, because our profession is still highly dominated by men, it’s a really good place for us to
acquire skills and network.