Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
Undergraduate school: University of Pittsburgh
Job: Tax Associate at Dechert
While at Temple Law, I was a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), a Staff Editor for the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review, and an Academic Core Enrichment (ACE) Program Counselor. Participating in these organizations really shaped my time at Temple Law.
BLSA was such a great experience because not only did I meet other BLSA members across the city and country, but I also experienced unique opportunities to network with attorneys in Philadelphia at galas, receptions, and happy hours. I also had the chance to plan events on topics interesting to our general student body.
The Political and Civil Rights Law Review really improved my research and writing skills and helped me learn the Bluebook, which governs legal citation, like the back of my hand. My friends who were not on a journal always ask me Bluebook questions so I certainly see that as an asset for my future career.
Serving as an ACE Counselor was very rewarding because I love to help people and first-year students are always open to receiving that help. Participating in the ACE program was my way of making the first year a bit easier for other students than it was for me and paying forward the same advice and help that upperclassmen gave to me when I started at Temple Law.
I participated in the Youth Courts practicum during my second year and the Sheller Center for Social Justice Clinic my third year. Through the Youth Courts practicum, a group of Temple Law students visited a Strawberry Mansion High School every week to teach a classroom about restorative justice practices and the school-to-prison pipeline. We taught lesson plans and also helped the students to set up a school-based Youth Court completely run by the classroom. The court heard cases for minor disciplinary infractions, such as being tardy or uniform violations. Typically, students receive in-school suspension for these types of infractions, but the court provided restorative dispositions instead. The court’s immediate goal was to restore the harm caused by the disciplinary infraction, and its long-term goal was to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by making sure students were no longer unnecessarily suspended. This practicum helped me to think about the law in new and critical ways, which were very different from what we learn in the classroom.
As a third-year student in the Sheller Center’s Social Justice Lawyering clinic, I represented two clients experiencing wage theft by former employers and also worked on an advocacy project for Community Legal Services. This clinic was single-handedly my best experience at Temple Law. Not only was I taking the lead on real cases, but I was also improving my research, advocacy, and critical thinking skills. It was challenging work, but I believe it was the best preparation for starting my job after graduation.
I also volunteered with the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Both volunteer projects were important to me for different reasons, but HAP was extra special. Philadelphia is a city that struggles with homelessness. I walk around Temple’s campus, run on the parkway, or shop downtown, and it seems that there are people living with homelessness almost everywhere. HAP was a small commitment that I could make to help some of the most vulnerable Philadelphia citizens. The assistance we provided seemed minor – such as helping clients obtain a new social security card or receive disability benefits – but it made a huge impact in our clients’ lives.
Making an Impact
This fall, I will start work as a Tax Associate in Dechert’s Philadelphia office. Temple Law has prepared me for this job through our amazing tax faculty and my experiential learning and volunteer opportunities. In the long term, I want to use my law degree to advocate for people who cannot advocate for themselves. That might be through pro bono work, policy work, or something completely different. Temple Law is dedicated to public service, even when a student or professor’s career trajectory may appear to go otherwise. Having a foundation of service in my legal education reminds me that law school is a unique and privileged opportunity with great responsibility. That responsibility is to use my education for good and the betterment of my community.
Carrying Temple Forward
Temple Law has become a family to me. When I came here, I expected law school to be this scary and super-competitive place where I would be isolated and miserable for three years. Instead, I found students, professors, administrators, and staff who were supportive and cared about my success. I plan to take that positive and supportive attitude with me and treat other attorneys, clients, and colleagues in this same way. My legal career could have been focused solely on my individual success, but it does not have to be. Temple Law has taught me that.