Associate, Mason LLP, Washington, D.C.
Jason Rathod was an articles editor for the Duke Law Journal (DLJ). Prior to coming to Law School, he traveled to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname on a Watson Fellowship, studying the Indian Diaspora.
I chose to attend law school because I wanted to use my writing and rhetorical skills to improve people's lives. After my first year at Duke Law, I received a grant through Duke's Public Interest Law Fund to travel to India and work for the Self-Employed Women's Association, representing a class of street vendors seeking an injunction against the local government for unlawful harassment and evictions. The experience showed me first-hand how unfair practices can be changed by aggregating individual grievances. After that, I knew I wanted to litigate class actions on the plaintiff side. During my third year, I told my career adviser, Bruce Elvin, about my aspirations, and he provided a list of alums that I should talk to. I scheduled a meeting with Gary Mason (’87), and his firm extended an offer to participate in the Bridge to Practice program. Things worked out and I am now a full-time associate.
Describe your work.
I litigate complex class actions related to consumer protection, worker rights, and civil rights. I represent homeowners whose homes contain defective Chinese drywall in a multidistrict litigation (MDL). I am also involved in an MDL against major car manufacturers and the maker of a vehicle telecommunications system, alleging consumer fraud. I dedicate significant time to workers' wage and hour claims. For example, I represent assistant managers and manager trainees in a class action against Pizza Hut, alleging that the workers were improperly denied overtime pay. I am also involved in similar actions against Avis, H&R Block, and Rite-Aid.
My civil rights practice focuses primarily on individuals who have been strip-searched following their arrest for minor crimes, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. I am also involved in litigation against a mortgage-servicing giant for allegedly depriving homeowners of their right to due process under state law by producing false affidavits in foreclosure proceedings.
What part of your legal education at Duke best prepared you for practice?
As an articles editor of DLJ, I edited articles by scholars, judges, and practitioners. In this capacity, I learned to assume the author's perspective, making changes to the article's structure to ensure a smooth flow, highlighting overlooked counter-arguments to fortify the article's logical links, and suggesting additional authority to amplify the author's voice. These skills have proven invaluable given the extensive brief writing that I do as a first-year associate.
What advice would you give a Duke Law student who wants to work in a niche firm? Talk to people who practice in the areas that you are interested in. Practitioners in niche firms are passionate about their work and eager to help law students and young lawyers break into their field.