Aimee Thomson

Aimee smiling in front of a brick wall

Class of 2008, Physics and Political Science double major and French minor

Deputy Attorney General at Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office in the Impact Litigation Section.

If anyone is interested in law or living in the Middle East I am always happy to talk to anybody who is interested. Contact me at

Q & A

Currently, a lot of my job is a lot of federal-facing litigation. We are involved in a lot of actions challenging the lack of adherence to the rule of law by the current federal administration. The fun part and the interesting part is I get to be involved in things that are on the news. If it's in the news, if it is something the Trump administration is doing, I am probably somewhat involved in considering whether Pennsylvania should be involved in challenging it. I get to do cool things like file briefs for the Supreme Court.

That is an impossible question. I am a bad poster-child for attorneys in general since I am a public interest attorney. I went to law school for public service which means I don't get paid as much for the work I do as lawyers working at a big firm would get. The flip side is I get to do work that I feel is in the public good and hopefully helps people. The day-to-day involves a combination of working on long-standing litigation and other projects our office is debating and coordinating with our state partners on their projects. I meet weekly with the State Attorney General to make recommendations about what the state should get involved in. Lots of reading, writing, and conference calls.
When I came in as a freshman, I wanted to be an astrophysicist or do some sort of astronomy-based physics. Then I realized that, as much as I loved physics, a long-term career in physics was not for me. I watched a lot of West Wing during the summer after freshman year. It solidified a growing interest in current affairs. This was at the beginning of the Iraq war and current events in the Middle East felt very present. I wanted to do something in that area. I decided I wanted to add political science into my studies but also wanted to stick with physics since I really enjoyed it.

The bigger picture is that I graduated in 2008, worked on the Obama campaign, and then moved to Damascus in January 2009. I wanted to go into politics with a focus on the Middle East, possibly working for the State Department. I felt that if I was going to do Middle Eastern foreign policy work, I should speak Arabic and have lived in the region. I learned some Arabic while at CC but wanted to get even more fluent. I lived in Syria for a year-and-a-half and then I went to Beirut for a couple of years. Experiencing life on the ground in these places, I became disillusioned with my foreign policy ambitions and decided I wanted to do more NGO-style service work. I got a job at the Arab Human Rights Fund in Beirut. I started working there about six months before the Arab Spring began. It was a very transformative time for the region and made me realize I wanted to get my Master's in human rights, but my lawyer friend convinced me that with a Master's in human rights, I would probably still be doing the low-level administrative work I had been doing before. She said I should be a lawyer. I didn't see that for myself at the time, but months later, I had come around to the idea and decided to apply and ended up going to NYU for law school.

I was concerned about how I would adjust to the semester system after learning so much on the block plan. The gap in time had been so long that it actually felt pretty normal. There are a lot of people in law school who had taken time off, so I wasn't alone and there were lots of other people who had done something in between.

It was something I have always been interested in ever since I was a kid. In high school, I took calculus and physics. I just loved having formulas to explain things and the ways that you can explain the universe. You apply a test and you get the answer. That is something I still carry with me. A lot of the law is about devising tests that you can then use in other situations. You're often trying to fit a set of facts into a test. In the simplest terms, that is what being a lawyer is, so it has a lot of overlap with physics and science.

Going to Baca with Quantum. I got to take it with Dick, and he would come in every morning and have us put up the problems on the board, and then for the rest of the day, we would stay in that classroom doing the problems for the next day. The problems were long and challenging but I actually have very fond memories of figuring out quantum mechanics, which is something that seems so impenetrable but is actually something you can do and learn and see in front of you.

For one, it's a unique perspective since a lot of students coming into law school have similar backgrounds, the physics background is new. Physics has helped me approach law in a very analytical way. I am always trying to apply an equation and distill things down to an equation which is in essence what the practice of law is.

I did not think I was going to end up being a litigator. Even towards the end of law school, I thought I was going to get a law degree and do policy work. What I discovered was that I really loved litigation.

I graduated from law school in 2015, public interest hiring is very ad hoc compared to the traditional route of working at a big firm. I got really lucky because the place where I had interned during law school, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, offered me a fellowship after graduation, so I went back there. I wrote briefs for the federal court on privacy and technology issues. I began to become more interested in litigation during this period, so I sought to be a clerk for a judge. After my fellowship, I clerked for two judges, one a federal trial court judge and one a federal appellate court judge, so that was two more years but I wanted to get a permanent job. This was 2017, and I knew I wanted to do something that tried to preserve the rule of law and basic civil liberties, and I applied to a lot of NGOs doing this type of work, and I heard that a lot of AG offices were also on the front lines fighting for this. But at this moment, state Attorneys General are poised to fight back against the overreach as well. I wanted to come back to Philadelphia and everything happened to align correctly and I got my current job.

That is something I am still figuring out. As people grow and evolve, their passions change. Work-life balance can be really hard too, especially as an attorney. That being said, my passion is public service. I knew I didn't want to do the big firm route. I have a lot of loans and am hoping that public service loan forgiveness will continue to exist so my loans can get forgiven down the road. In that sense, my job is my passion. I am doing work that lets me sleep at night. I am doing work that helps people.

I want to encourage people to know that it is ok to take untraditional routes. The biggest lesson that I had at CC was admitting I didn't want to be a physicist. I had defined myself on that for years. Realizing and admitting that was tough and important. It's ok to want different things now than you wanted last year or five years ago. It's ok to follow winding paths to things.

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