Hometown: Galeton, PA
- University of Pittsburgh | B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and English, minor in Legal Studies
Job: Associate, Blank Rome LLP – Philadelphia Office
Program: Full-Time Day
- During my 3L year, I was a part of the cohort in Temple Law’s Federal Judicial Clerkship Honors Program. As part of the program, I had the privilege of working in the chambers of the Honorable Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lloret in the Eastern District of PA.
- I was able to draft opinions on habeas corpus petitions and civil cases, observe confidential settlement conferences, attend civil and criminal court proceedings, support the chamber’s pre-trial preparations, and even observe the STRIDES specialty program.
- These experiences helped me in developing my legal writing skills when drafting opinions for cases that came before Judge Lloret. I was able to observe the lawyers and their wide range of legal strategies and methods. Further, I was also able to thoroughly research and apply complex case law, such as precedent affecting habeas corpus petitions for incarcerated individuals seeking relief.
- In addition to drafting opinions, I was also able to attend confidential settlement conferences. I was able to see how lawyers managed relationships with their clients, advocated for the strength of their case, and used strategy to reach a successful settlement agreement. This was invaluable to me, as many civil cases that I will work on in the future are likely to be resolved in settlement discussions.
- I was an involved member of our community. I served as the Treasurer and Parliamentarian for our Student Bar Association (SBA) and a board member of the Student Public Interest Network (SPIN). I was also a general member of OUTLaw, our LGBT+ group, and the Intellectual Property Law Society.
- During my time in leadership positions, I developed a strong network of support with my peers to promote student organizations and activities. While I was able to give back to my community, I also used these experiences to improve on my own leadership, professionalism, and interpersonal skills.
- There are also some big picture lessons that I learned, which are applicable to all future lawyers and law students:
- Build and maintain relationships with your peers, because you will work with them again someday – either as colleagues or opposing counsel. Having strong professional relationships will always make those interactions easier and more productive for both you and your future clients.
- Explore your interests as a law student – attend every event you can to build new connections or learn from experts and leaders in every field of law. Student organizations bring in many impressive speakers and lawyers to our campus every day, so take advantage of it!
- Promote public interest values and pro bono service in all aspects of the legal profession, whether you are going into public service or private practice. Lawyers are social engineers, and we are obligated to promote justice, fairness, and the public good regardless of our professional practice area. Pro bono service is often the most impactful and gratifying work that we do as attorneys, and each of us should contribute a meaningful part of our practice to it.
- I was a member of our National Trial Team for my 2L and 3L years. This experience helped me to hone my advocacy skills, master the rules of evidence, and become comfortable in the courtroom as a queer and non-binary law student.
- An important aspect of our program is that it not only equips you with the technical skills needed to practice law, but also with professional development needed to put those skills into practice before a judge and jury.
- Some highlights that contributed to my professional development were Temple’s Integrated Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP), weekly meetings with coaches and professors to develop my skills, and participating in the Trial Team’s Boot Camp program. These helped me to gain a full understanding of each part of the trial proceedings, develop my presentation skills, and learn effective ways of presenting evidence to a jury.
- During my time on the team, I was able to place as a finalist in multiple competitions and earned two professionalism awards – which is a testament to Temple Law’s commitment to creating practice-ready attorneys who understand the importance of professional conduct.
- Associate Dean Donald Harris taught my 1L Intellectual Property (IP) course, which opened my eyes to the subject matter and helped me to refine my skills as a law student. I attribute my academic success to his mentorship and guidance. I went on to become a Teaching Assistant for his 1L IP course and took numerous advanced IP courses to explore my interests further. I am confident that I will be successful in the field of IP litigation equipped with that knowledge and his continued professional mentorship.
- Professor Sara Jacobson was my Trial Team coach for my entire 2L year and helped me to find my voice as a queer and nonbinary student entering the law. She was there for me through every challenge – from learning the basics of lawyering in the courtroom, to delivering compelling advocacy before a jury, to being comfortable presenting my personal pronouns before the court. I am thankful to have a mentor like her to look to as an example of professional excellence as I start my career.
- Professors Jules Epstein, Elizabeth Lippy, and Marian Braccia were the directors of my entire trial advocacy education at Temple Law. I would not be the person I am today without their shared efforts in helping me learn and grow as an advocate.
- Professor Epstein tirelessly shared his wealth of knowledge on evidence with me, which is a hallmark of any #TempleMade lawyer. Going into practice, I am confident in my skills handling evidence and know that I will be able to properly safeguard the interests of my client in court.
- Professor Lippy was my first mentor in trial advocacy and instilled in me (and others) the importance of finding your own authentic voice in advocacy. Because of her, I know that I can walk into any courtroom and take command of the room to advocate for my client’s needs.
- Professor Braccia consistently offered ways to get involved with our LL.M. program and Trial Advocacy certificate, which helped me to get exposure to other parts of trial advocacy such as jury selection and advanced litigation skills.
Challenges Facing the Legal Profession
- The legal profession has been, and continues to be, the slowest diversifying profession in the US. While we have made headway in diversifying entry- and mid-level attorney positions in recent years, much of the senior-level lawyers and leadership of firms and organizations remains undiversified.
- This initial success can be attributed to the hard and necessary work that firms, organizations, and programs have done already. One example is the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group (PDLG), which I became involved with as a Summer Fellow. Under the leadership of Lois Kimbol and the numerous groups that participate, they have been able to place students from diverse backgrounds and life experiences into summer internships that turn into full-time positions in the Philadelphia area. I was thankful for my 1L summer internship, which I spent with the in-house counsel at GlaxoSmithKline. Both PDLG and GSK invested in me and my future success, and I would not be where I am without them, and I hope to spend my future career advancing their goals and further diversifying our profession.
- I believe that in order to further improve the legal profession, we need to also focus on the diversification of legal leadership. This should include identifying and dismantling systemic barriers, developing and maintaining inclusive cultures, and creating pathways to success and promotion for underrepresented attorneys, such as structured mentorship programs and inclusive consideration processes for promotion and advancement.
- This is not an issue just isolated to “BigLaw” firms or private practice, but broadly to all areas of the law and legal practice, including the judiciary. In recent years, public confidence in the judiciary has declined and come into question, and the entire profession should be concerned with addressing this issue. Having a judiciary that is more representative of our population is one way of restoring faith in the courts and our rule of law. This should not just be limited to trial judges, but to appellate courts and the state and federal Supreme Courts in terms of individual diversity and prior professional experience.