Fresh out of college with her undergraduate degree, Courtney Anderson knew law school was the next step in her academic career. She attended Harvard Law School and graduated in 2006. Anderson then moved to Chicago to work in real-estate development and corporate real-estate issues from 2006 to 2010.
“A lot was going on with real-estate—it was doing really well, and then it crashed.” She said in 2010, she left the firm she had been with and began pursuing her LL.M. (Masters of Law) as well as a clinical fellowship at Georgetown University in affordable housing and community development. As a fellow at the clinic, Anderson represented low-income tenants with transactions regarding their units.
“My experience with housing from a corporate perspective is what led me into affordable housing and community development—the role that housing plays in health and policy,” she said. Anderson saw the disparity within real-estate when working with both corporations and low-income tenants—specifically how difficult navigating housing and health issues can be for low-income groups.
A large determinant for how her career played out was Anderson’s work during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina during her time at law school. She traveled to New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi, focusing on legal work around the impact of the hurricane.
Anderson worked closely with low-income individuals affected by the storm, those who were now suffering from the collapse of an already flimsy housing infrastructure prior to hurricane Katrina. These people were now dealing with consequences of an unforeseen circumstance.
“A lot of the people I met there on the ground, I still stay in touch with them.” Anderson says this program not only made connections for her but helped her focus her career. “It got me interested in clinical work, clinical teaching, and how law students can be impactful.”
Anderson found herself at Georgia State in 2012 when the university was searching for a legal scholar to research health disparities related to socioeconomic determinants of health.
During a clinical fellowship at Georgetown, Anderson had worked with low-income tenants who wanted to purchase their building and the low-income issues they had faced during these kinds of processes. Considering her additional real-estate background, Anderson said the area of research was a perfect fit for her. Her research right now is focusing on bioethics and health disparities to prepare for the course she will be teaching, as well as an article on the opioid crisis, and how housing, neighborhoods and housing structure intersects with it.”
“I’m trying to offer a different perspective on what a lot of people are talking about, and what a lot of people are looking at.”
This spring, she will be teaching a few different courses, ranging from property and real-estate law to poverty and health equity classes. But the newest one, a bioethics class, is a co-taught, interdisciplinary course for honors students—funded by the Greenwall Foundation grant. “The class will follow how bioethics infiltrates other areas of studies, how bioethics affects their career, and things of that nature.”
Anderson said going into a legal academia setting is a good environment to foster ideas and change, especially at Georgia State. “It’s a very collaborative environment. We all work really well together.” Anderson said she’s learned quite a lot from her colleagues.
“Understand that what topic you’re researching needs to be one you’re interested in, one you’re personally invested in.” She said the university environment needs to foster learning and real-life experiences, and Georgia State assures this—having these things involved in education is key. “This kind of support lets real solutions come to fruition.”
—Braden Turner, Graduate Administrative Assistant, Office of the Provost