Inspired by her grandfather’s work as a community organizer in Washington, DC, Courtney L. Allen decided to attend law school to acquire the skills necessary to carry on his legacy.
“My grandfather would take me to city council meetings when he testified,” Courtney recalls, “and as I got older, I realized that going to law school was a way to take a more formal approach to community organizing.”
Courtney’s first post-college job introduced her to labor activism. As a program assistant for the National Education Association (NEA) Campaign and Elections Department, Courtney monitored education-related policy, participated in regular White House briefings, and prepped NEA members to meet with legislators and policy-makers, as well as participate in the political process. Her work helping NEA members become active in local elections or meeting with legislators influenced her decision to become more involved.
Later, at Northeastern University School of Law, several professors noted Courtney’s NEA experience and suggested she enroll in labor law classes. “Looking back, I was so inspired by these classes and professors that I realized labor law was really the right direction for me; the work is both meaningful and challenging.”
During law school, Courtney held internships and clerkships, including an internship with Levy Ratner during her 3L year, that allowed her to further explore this interest through research pertaining to Title VII, the Taft-Hartley Act, the Fair Labor Standard Act, separation agreements and employer-sponsored benefit programs. Additionally, Courtney assisted attorneys during arbitrations, negotiations and settlement discussions.
As a Levy Ratner associate, Courtney primarily works in the firm’s collections and employee benefits practice, protecting workers’ retirement and healthcare security by enforcing the promises employers make about compensation and benefits. She is also involved in several challenges to workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation involving race, religion and sex.
The activism that energizes Courtney’s practice continues to motivate her. Recently, she joined colleagues at a union rally challenging conditions at Rite-Aid. “There were maybe 1,000 union members there,” she recalls, “people who were tired of not being valued by their employer. Getting engaged with them and being in that atmosphere--that’s what gets me excited about the work.”