To be fair, my law school experience wasn’t quite as scintillating as the title of this article may lead you to believe. But, I had to name it something and a “tell-all” sounded cool. *shrugs*
I get tons of questions about my law school experience. I could write a book about everything I learned, but here are some answers to commonly-asked questions and my honest thoughts about my schooling. First, though, some background:
UNDERGRAD: Honors College at the University of South Carolina
GRAD SCHOOL: Wake Forest University School of Law and Graduate School of Business (Class of 2017)
DEGREES: Bachelor of Science, Juris Doctor, and Master of Business Administration
WHY WAKE FOREST?
I knew I wanted to practice law in North Carolina and I thought it would be best to go to law school in the state for two reasons: (1) It is much easier to convince a North Carolina law firm that you want to stay in NC when you go to school in NC than if you go to school in another state; and (2) I thought it would be better to go to school in NC so I could start cultivating a professional network.
I started applying to law schools in September 2012 and at that time there were 7 NC law schools: Wake Forest, UNC, Duke, Elon, Campbell, Charlotte, and NCCU. Wake Forest, UNC, and Duke were ranked the highest (US News and World Report; yes, we all look at it), had been in existence the longest, and had great reputations around the state for producing good attorneys. Since UNC’s class sizes were larger than Wake’s and Duke students typically don’t stay in North Carolina (and employers know this), Wake Forest it was.
DO I NEED TO DO AN INTERNSHIP IN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY BEFORE APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL?
I worked as a runner for a law firm in Columbia, SC before attending law school, but that isn’t necessary. My job entailed delivering documents to courthouses around the state to be filed and running other errands. I knew nothing about the legal industry and didn’t take full advantage of the knowledge the attorneys around me had.
Law schools don’t expect you to know anything about the law before you get to law school. They want you to know how to write, they want to know that you can think critically, and they want you to be prepared to read all the time.
If you want to do something before law school to prepare yourself, job shadow someone who is doing what you think you want to do. Law school is too long and too expensive to do it without knowing that you love it and having some idea of what you want to do with your degree. I’ve known that I wanted to be an attorney since I was in high school and nothing anybody told me could change my mind. I am more than happy with the decision I made. Make sure you will be too.
WHY AND HOW DID YOU EARN A JD AND AN MBA?
Wake Forest has a JD/MBA dual-degree program. The format of the program has changed since I left, but when I did the program it allowed students to earn a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Business Administration degree in four years. Law school typically takes three years and a traditional MBA can be earned in two years, so this program shaved a year off the clock. I took solely law school classes my first year, solely business classes my second year, and took a mix of both during my third and fourth years.
I was a business major in undergrad. I knew the value in having some business knowledge, especially in today’s workplace. The best way to serve clients is to be able to understand their businesses, their business needs, and how your skills can serve them. Of course, you can do some of that without an MBA, but the people I look up to, the people whose careers I wanted, the people who did this the best, they were JD/MBAs.
WHAT INTERNSHIPS DID YOU DO IN LAW SCHOOL AND HOW DID YOU GET THEM?
I did two internships for each of the three summers that I was in law school. I always spent the first half of the summer with the law firm I work for now. I did the North Carolina Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession internship program and landed a spot as a summer associate at my firm after my first year of law school. They liked me and liked my work, so they invited me back for a second summer, then a third summer. When they offered me a job as an attorney I happily accepted.
I spent the second half of my first summer with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now NC DEQ). I met a Wake Forest Law graduate through the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Organization and he asked me to interview for a place as an intern in the Legislative Affairs Division. I interviewed. I got the internship.
The Wake Forest MBA program took almost my entire class down to a career fair in Atlanta during my second year, which is where I found my internship for the second half of my second summer. General Motors was interested in me due to the mix of my business and environmental knowledge and my law degree. Just like that, my JD/MBA looked really attractive to a potential employer. I worked in their Marketing Department on strategies for their electrified vehicles in light of numerous regulations that affected their Chevrolet Volt vehicle and upcoming release of their Chevrolet Bolt.
For the same reason, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recruited me to work in their marketing department during the second half of my third summer. I researched the potential for electrified vehicles in new international markets while on the Asia Pacific team.
DID YOU LIKE WAKE FOREST?
I loved my experience at Wake. Loved it. I don’t regret it one bit and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
I was highly involved in many organizations at Wake and because of my involvement, I was able to travel a great deal and meet some phenomenal people. I was on the Moot Court Board and represented the school in the Tulane Sports Law Moot Court Competition in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I also competed in the Jessup International Moot Court Competition in DC. I was the National Parliamentarian for the National Black Law Students Association, the President of Wake’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society, and was on the AAJ Trial Team at Wake that won the school’s first trial team national championship. My involvement in these organizations and others took me to Los Angeles, CA, Atlanta, GA, Memphis, TN, Chicago, IL, Columbia, SC, and more.
In fairness, not every student traveled as much as I did. Some spent every weekday on campus and most weekends in Winston Salem. The great thing about Wake Forest is that it’s small enough to accommodate each student and the interests they have.
Obviously, not every day at Wake Forest was rainbows and sunshine. My third year at Wake was probably the most difficult I’d experienced. I was in a relationship with a guy who lived across the country and I was still involved with different organizations; therefore, I traveled literally every single week of the school year. Every. Single. Week. Most of the time I left on Fridays after my last class of the week, but there were times I needed to leave earlier. I was exhausted and felt disengaged in my classes because I was always thinking about what I needed to do after class or how I needed to prepare for the weekend.
When my final school year started I was single and left a lot of the organizations I was involved in behind so that I could focus and renew the energy I had when I first started law school. It worked. I fell in love with law school again and God gave me some great things to celebrate: a national championship, graduation, and a law license after passing the NC bar.
I’m sure I haven’t covered every single question you guys may have about my schooling, but feel free to send me a message via our Contact page! I’m always happy to answer questions and help out those in need of some guidance!
As always, there are some photos of me below in a cute outfit. The outfit has nothing to do with this article. I just really like it. ?
Pictured below: dress (Layo G. zip collar dress), shoes (Ann Taylor).