Nicole Mozee ’16 entered NYLS thinking she would pursue corporate law, a major industry in her home state of Delaware. Instead, she discovered a passion for social justice issues. Today, Mozee is an attorney at the Delaware Department of Labor’s Office of Anti-Discrimination, where she investigates employment discrimination claims.
“We are a neutral agency; we don’t advocate for the person or the employer,” she says. “I have a lot of contact with both parties.”
Mozee is involved at every step of an employment discrimination claim—from fielding initial complaints to filing cases on behalf of employees, conducting investigations to determine whether there has been a violation of state or federal law, handling mediations, and resolving claims. Some of her cases end with a settlement, while others are referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or become lawsuits.
Mozee handles over 100 matters at a time, often switching roles from investigator to counsel to mediator within the same day.
“I have to wear different hats and remain neutral and objective,” she says. “I’m used to transitioning into what is needed depending on the day.”
Organization and scheduling are key to balancing her caseload. Mozee says she enjoys being part of a federal agency because she is privy to cutting-edge cases and emerging issues across the country.
Soon, Mozee will begin the next chapter of her career in the nonprofit sector.
She recently accepted a position as a staff attorney with Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, a group that provides free legal services to low-income families. In the role, she will represent victims and families in family law matters, including domestic violence and custody.
Mozee’s focus on public interest work grew during her time as an undergraduate Political Science major at the University of Delaware. Still, she initially pursued corporate and business law at NYLS.
“I’m a first-generation student and didn’t have an attorney in my family,” she says. “I had an idea of what an attorney looks like and does. When I came to NYLS, I started to broaden my horizons and understanding.”
She took Constitutional Law with Professor Doni Gewirtzman and was captivated by class discussions about constitutional rights, legal and economic power structures, and social justice.
“That’s when I started to discover ‘me’ and gain a better sense of who I am and what my calling was,” she says.
Mozee affiliated with the Impact Center for Public Interest Law, which immersed her in public interest projects and cases. The Civil Rights Clinic taught by Professor Deborah N. Archer solidified her commitment to using her law degree to advance social justice.
Mozee spent her first summer in law school as a judicial intern for Judge Faviola Soto ’78 of the New York State Court of Claims.
“It was phenomenal and helped me capitalize on my interests,” she says.
During her second summer in law school, she came home to Delaware and interned with the Community Legal Aid Society, a non-profit that provides civil legal services to populations in need of low-cost legal help. She worked on immigration and disability matters.
Mozee noticed Delaware’s large population of corporate, private, and transactional law firms and comparatively small number of public interest and social justice groups.
“It’s not for lack of need,” she says. “There are many people here who need legal assistance and who come from a low-income background.”
Her long-term goal is to start a nonprofit law firm or organization with a focus on civil rights, discrimination, immigration, voting rights, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Mozee says that her experiences as a law student in New York City opened her eyes to a broad array of public interest career paths.
“I had a great experience at NYLS; I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she says. “I don’t consider myself to be a city girl, but I’m so glad I came here and allowed myself to grow.”