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For law school aspirants serious about success Annual 2012 Edition



Exclusive Q&A with the National Bar Association’s Executive Director

On Trial for Diversity: John Marshall’s Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition


Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana (West Africa): A Student’s Perspective Don’t Recreate the Wheel: Black Law Students’ Advice on Preparation for the Law School Experience

From Top Corporate Attorney to Non-Profit Development Leader: Angela Birch Cox On Giving Your Best and Giving Back

(In alphabetical order)

Albany Law School – Baker Botts LLP Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law - Black Lawyers Legacy Project Black Pre-Law – Drake University Law School Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Kirkland & Ellis LLP The John Marshall Law School (Chicago) - Marquette University Law School National Black Law Students Association Pre-Law Division - The National Black Pre-Law Conference – The National Black Pre-Law Network – Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law - Pace Law School Steptoe & Johnson LLP Texas Business Alliance’s One Woman National Business Conference University of California Davis School of Law - University of California Irvine School of Law - University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law – Wayne State University Law School Weil, Gotshal & Manges West Virginia University College of Law

Thoughts from the Editor

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the new 2012 annual edition of BLACK PRE-LAW magazine – the magazine for law school aspirants serious about success! I promised to deliver a magazine that was filled with helpful, practical information for aspiring law students to help give them an edge in becoming more competitive, strategic and excellent law school candidates and law students. Just as important, I promised to present real-life role models of driven, passionate and successful African American pre-law students, law students, and lawyers. I am proud to say that we delivered. This issue includes so much wonderful information that I know it’s something that every African American pre-law student will want to have a copy of to read, re-read, and keep. This edition features fabulous advice on law school admission including an IRAC approach to the application process from a successful attorney Alison Velez Lane, tips on LSAT success and a pre-LSAT boot camp plan from entrepreneur and LSAT guru Akil Bello, and advice from a non-traditional law student and recent law school grad who “strong armed” her way into law school by defying the odds Amber Burton. For advice on the law school experience, we tapped Kendra Brown, a recent law school graduate and Master of Law degree candidate, who serves as the Chairperson for the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA). She provides “wisdom for the law school journey” in navigating the law school admissions process, law school, and beyond. In addition, we asked the national executive board members of NBLSA to share their best advice on preparing for the law school experience. And they responded – the vast majority of them. Inside you can read what they have to say. They provide truly sage advice as people who have recently been admitted into law school and who are now going through the law school experience. We have added insightful and provocative interviews with extremely fascinating attorneys who have graciously shared their journeys and could teach us all a thing or two or more about what it takes to achieve success in the highly competitive legal world. We had the pleasure of getting to know more about the paths of international corporate attorney Regina Bynote Jones, who serves as General Counsel for Schlumberger, the largest oilfield services company in the world. We also had the chance to get up close and personal with Angela Birch Cox, who left her high-powered career as a corporate attorney for The Coca-Cola Company to devote her time and talents to meaningful non-profit work with the United Way. As more aspiring lawyers are really considering the high costs of a legal education and fewer legal jobs in our current down economy, Law Professor Carla Pratt explains why law school is still a good investment for African Americans. In considering the value of a legal education, we are also given the opportunity to gain a broader perspective through learning about what is required to become a lawyer beyond our own borders through a thoughtful and candid interview with Wilhelmina Bampoe, a current final-year law student at the Ghana School of Law. Further, aspiring lawyers will be made aware of worthwhile programs they can participate in such as John Marshall’s National Diversity Mock Trial Competition. They will learn that even as pre-law students they can meet attorneys and get involved with the National Bar Association through our Q&A with Executive Director Demetris Cheatham. And they can gain encouragement to vote and make an impact through the example of IMPACT, an organization of young professionals making a difference in Washington, D.C. and across the nation. And two of IMPACT’s co-founders, Angela Rye, Esq., whose profile is featured inside, and Joe D. Briggs, Esq., are lawyers! Finally, this issue includes an article from consistent “winner” Attorney Angela Dixon, who has won on national television game shows such as The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune. She shares her “secret” behind winning thousands of dollars in cash and prizes - and in realizing her dream of becoming a lawyer. And there’s so much more inside! I truly hope you enjoy this issue and that you are inspired to keep working towards being your very best! We will strive to provide the example by setting the bar to an even higher standard of excellence for future editions. Continued blessings and success,

Evangeline M. Mitchell, Esq., Ed.M. Editor-in-Chief

Annual 2012 Edition


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Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana (West Africa): A Student’s Perspective

46 60 Pre-Law Student Profiles Derecka Purnell and Sarah Odion-Esene������8 Law Student Profiles Jomaire Crawford and Stanley Settle II������� 11 Lawyer Profiles Angela Rye, Cassandra Sneed Ogden, Carla D. Pratt, Leonard Baynes and Sherry D. Williams����������������������������������������������� 16 Law School Admission IRAC: A Persuasive Approach for Your Compelling Law School Application Essay������������������������������������������������������������������������ 40 The LSAT: This Ain’t Your Momma’s Test����� 41 How I Strong Armed My Way Into Law School: Advice to “Non-Traditional” Admissions Candidates������������������������������������ 67


For law school aspirants serious about success



An Interview with Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe, Law Student at the Ghana School of Law (Accra, Ghana)


Annual 2012 Edition




The John Marshall Law School’s Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition


Living and Lawyering Abroad: A Special Interview with International Attorney Regina Bynote Jones

Thoughts from the Editor�������������������������������3

Annual 2012 Edition



Demetris Cheatham, Esq., MBA: Exclusive Q&A with the National Bar Association’s Executive Director



Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Black Law Students’ Advice on Preparing for the Law School Experience

The Law School Experience Wisdom for the Law School Journey����������� 68

Recommended Reading A. Leon Higginbotham’s Books��������������������� 75

A Lawyer’s Life and Work Angela Birch Cox, Esq., Donor Relations Manager, Leadership Giving, United Way�� 34

Legal History Macon Bolling Allen, The First AfricanAmerican Male Lawyer in the United States�������������������������������������������������������� 72

Spotlight Tamecia Glover Harris’ Law School Class Commencement Speech��������������������������������� 62 Financial Issues Law School: Still a Good Investment for African Americans���������������������������������������������� 70 Mind, Spirit, and Wellness The Power of Peppermint to De-Stress the Stressed-Out������������������������������������������������� 57 Success Finding the Winner in You!������������������������������ 38 Get Involved IMPACT������������������������������������������������������������������� 73

Black Pre-Law Magazine P.O. Box 631234 Houston, Texas 77263

The Legal Scene: Notable Legal Events - OBABL Power 100 Reception����������������������� 79 - National Black Law Students Association 44th Annual Convention������������������������������� 80 - Houston Lawyers Association Annual Scholarship and Awards Gala���������������������� 81 - Jewels of Change Documentary Inaugural Reception��������������������������������������� 82 - National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division 40th Anniversary Annual Networking & Awards Breakfast����������������� 83 - NBA and IMPACT’s Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40��������������� 84

Evangeline M. Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief Jevon Gee, Cover Photography Nebojsa Dolovacki, Magazine Design On the cover, Andre Evans, J.D., Recent Graduate, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University

Copyright (C) 2011, 2012 Black Pre-Law Magazine, Persistence of Vision, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

I’m Ready! ‘‘


John Marshall has given me the knowledge, skills, and experience it takes to be practice-ready from day one. At The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, we are committed to recruiting, supporting, and developing minority and underrepresented students in a diverse and inclusive environment. Prepare to succeed.

To learn more, contact us at or 800.537.4280.


Competitor Kariette Fleming at the final round of the National Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition in Chicago in April 2012

On Trial

for Diversity A national competition program designed to increase diversity in the legal profession is giving minority students a chance to compete for law school tuition waivers and consider the possibilities of earning a law degree.


here is not an easy, guaranteed way to diversify the legal profession, but The John Marshall Law School in Chicago organized a law school pipeline program for minority students that introduces students to trial practice skills and provides opportunities to reduce the cost of law school.



Ten years ago, Associate Dean Rory D. Smith of The John Marshall Law School, created and developed the Annual National Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition, to involve undergraduate students as a way to encourage them to consider law school. Smith estimates more than 400 students each year participate as competitors in the eight regional competitions and national competition each year. At

Annual 2012 Edition

the 2012 competition, 60 participants from 20 colleges and universities competed for law school tuition waivers at the national competition finals at John Marshall. The annual National Diversity Undergraduate Mock Trial Competition and its regional competitions are pipeline programs that build trial advocacy skills for each competitor and also reduces the cost of law school for its top collegiate competitors. Since the first national competition, the undergraduate diversity mock trial program has grown from one national competition to include eight regional competitions hosted by colleges and collaborating law schools around the country.

On Trial for Diversity

Daissy Dominguez, a third-year law student at John Marshall, won $30,000 in tuitions waivers for law school. For Daissy “the diversity mock trial competitions opened doors of opportunities by providing me with financial assistance and introducing me to upperclassmen and many individuals from across the nation, many of whom became my colleagues in my first year of law school. I felt like I was a part of the John Marshall community.” Daissy is currently the President of the Latino Law Students Association at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The national competition is open to all college students and is not limited to regional winners. The 10th Annual National Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition will be held on April 12 and 13, 2013.

Colleges are encouraged to send up to six students to the national competition. To insure diversity on each team, competitors are assigned to teams at the conclusion of training at the regionals and on the morning of the national competition. Over the two-day competition, students learn to work collaboratively in presenting a mock trial. “This is a program that gives college students, who may be unsure about law school, a chance to see what it takes to present a trial by learning and using the skills that they will use again in law school and possibly throughout their legal career. The competitions are transformative,” Smith stressed. “It’s wonderful to see their excitement about competing. The competition also gives the students the confidence that they can become lawyers.” Since 2002, John Marshall has awarded more than $4 million in tuition waivers to undergraduates. Tuition waivers are awarded from first through fourth place winners, as well as the top four best advocates. Third-year John Marshall law student Jesse Tyler said, “The Diversity Mock Trial competitions at The John Marshall Law School provided me with a tremendous opportunity to gain practical legal skills and improve my litigation ability, all before I took my first law school class. It was also a great way for me to network.” Smith considers the measure of success the increased minority enrollment numbers at John Marshall and in other law schools that participate. To learn more about the National Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition visit

Competitor Richard Lightfoot states his case in a preliminary round of the 2012 National Undergraduate Diversity Mock Trial Competition at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago

Annual 2012 Edition


At each regional competition, students receive mock trial training the day before the competition. Students learn how to give effective opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments. Students can win up to $15,000 in tuition waivers at regional competitions and up to $30,000 in tuition waivers at the national competition from John Marshall and many of the participating law schools. At least one of the collaborating schools offers even larger tuition waivers. Participating law schools include: The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia; Suffolk University School of Law in Boston; Florida International University College of Law in Miami; Florida A&M College of Law in Orlando; Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge; and Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Regional locations also include: Tennessee State University in Nashville; Hampton University in Hampton; and ITT Technical Institute in Las Vegas.


Pre-Law Student Profile

Derecka Purnell Name: Derecka Purnell Age: 21 College/University: University of Missouri-Kansas City Major: Political Science and Black Studies Minor: Sociology

Favorite Subject(s): Black Studies, Economics Favorite Book(s): The New Jim Crow, The Mis-Education of the Negro, The Bluest Eye, Black Bourgeoisie, The Giver, If You Come Softly, Annie John Favorite Movie: Coming to America Favorite Music Group/ Song: Music Group: Tie Between OutKast and Maroon 5 Favorite Song: “More than a Conqueror” By Mali Music Favorite Quotes: “A lawyer’s either a social engineer, or parasite on society.” - Charles Hamilton Houston “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” - Dante Alighieri “Now, then, in order to understand white supremacy we must dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody their freedom.” - Stokely Carmichael “Give light and people will find the way.” - Ella Baker “We serve God by serving our fellow man; kids are suffering from malnutrition. People are going to the fields hungry. If you are a Christian, we are tired of being mistreated.” - Fannie Lou Hamer



Co-curricular/Extracurricular Activities: Volunteerism and community service; Organizing Annual 2012 Edition

around issues; National Black Law Students Association; Black Law Students Association: Pre-Law Division; Teach dance classes to high school students. Internships/Work Experiences: Legal Intern, SPX Cooling Technologies, Inc.; Spring Investigations Intern, City of Kansas City - Civil Rights Division; Consultant/Team Leader/Servant Leader, Kansas City Freedom School Initiative; Intern, University of Missouri - Kansas City, Office of the Chancellor; Group Leader/Ambassador/Peer Counselor/Volunteer, Kingdom House. My Role Model: Jesus Christ. My Most Memorable College Experience to Date: My most memorable college experience to date was taking law, economics, public policy, and quantitative analysis courses at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley as a 2011 Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Law Fellow. I was privileged to belong to a diverse, talented, and dynamic cohort of driven change agents from across the world. Ways that I Stand Out from the Crowd: I love to build genuine relationships with people from all walks of life; work hard to be a resource and connector to meet the needs of others; and make use of my experiences and skills from various areas to bring applicable lessons to any task. What Most People Don’t Know About Me: Most people do not know that I have not watched television in over a year, and have become “addicted” to reading periodicals and listening to talk radio! It’s easier to filter what I am feeding my thoughts this way. What I Want to be Known For: I want to be known for breaking barriers for marginalized communities, particularly those of color and/or socioeconomically.

Pre-Law Student Profile

Best Advice I Received on College Success: “Don’t work in pursuit of good grades - try your best to learn and understand the information. The grades will come.” - Dr. Clovis Semnes, Director of the University of Missouri - Kansas City Black Studies Program

7. Finding a mentor(s) to guide me through the entire process, but also a champion to connect me to the right people in the field. 8. Stay true to who I am and enjoy the ride.

The Difference I Want to Make in the World: To inspire others to serve in the capacity to break barriers for marginalized communities in a way that is sustainable, reproducible, and genuine. I believe such inspiration will create a network to connect real people to solving real issues, despite their position in society.

Why I Want to Be a Lawyer:

Annual 2012 Edition


My Approach to Preparing for Law School: 1. Prayer. 2. Speaking to lawyers, law students, law school admissions representatives, and peers about their practices and paths in preparation for law school and their careers. 3. Belonging to a network (Black Pre-Law, National Black Law Students Association, Sidley Prelaw Scholars Initiative, Public Policy and International Affairs, Council on Legal Educational Opportunity) that provides resources for information and networking. 4. Creating a significant database of scholarships, programs, and organizations specifically for prelaw students, and sharing this information with others. 5. Refining reading and writing skills. 6. LSAT Preparation (two Kaplan courses, selfstudy, and prayer).

The more that I learn the impact of poverty on marginalized groups, the greater my desire becomes to change defective systems holistically as an attorney. I aspire to become a competitive, servant leader with economically disenfranchised communities, using measures of empowerment, advocacy, and accountability. As a product and witness of these environments, I desire to become an attorney to ultimately impact communities as an anomaly committed to producing normalities. Overcoming hardship provided me with opportunities of a way out of my impoverished community, but more importantly, an avenue back for service and impact. Repeatedly, I use tools gained from my hardships as a teacher, advisor, mentor, and advocate; helping people facing hunger, homelessness, being “undocumented” or abuse obtain employment, feed their families, apply to college, and serve their community. Interacting with people in poverty inspires me to become the utmost competitive servant. Knowing the tragic magnitude of poverty challenges me towards a life of advocacy for structural reform through the law.


Pre-Law Student Profile

Sarah OdionEsene Name: Sarah Odion-Esene Age: 21 College/University: University of Texas at Austin Major: International Relations and Global Studies Minor: African Diaspora Studies Favorite Subject(s): History and Theater Arts Favorite Book: Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich Favorite Movie: Batman

Representative Aaron Pena, Texas House of Representatives My Role Model: My daddy. My Most Memorable College Experience to Date: Spring Break 2009. Ways that I Stand Out from the Crowd: I am a people’s person, I go out of my way to make sure everyone is comfortable. What Most People Don’t Know About Me: I speak Italian.

Favorite Music Artist: Trey Songz

What I Want to be Known For: I want to be known for my passion and commitment to help my community. Best Advice I Received on College Success: Major in something you are passionate about, then the money will come. The Difference I Want to Make in the World: Decrease the poverty rate in developing countries.

Favorite Quote: “How can any deny themselves  the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” - Zora Neale Hurston Co-curricular/Extracurricular Activities: Intramural basketball and volleyball



Internships/Work Experiences: Legislative Intern for

Annual 2012 Edition

My Approach to Preparing for Law School: After attending many pre-law and law conferences, I have learned that writing is highly stressed in law school. So I have taken multiple critical writing courses at the University of Texas at Austin in order to improve my writing ability. Why I Want to Be a Lawyer: Growing up in Nigeria, I witnessed the corrupt legal system and how the poor are under-represented. When I moved to Texas at the age of 6, the only difference that I saw was the government was more transparent than in Nigeria. However, the people were still under-represented based on their socio-economic status. I want to be a lawyer so I can help those who are less fortunate and give them that voice in the justice system.

Law Student Profile

Jomaire Crawford Name: Jomaire Crawford Undergraduate College/University Attended: St. John’s University Undergraduate Major and Minor: English (major); Rhetoric and Public Address, and Philosophy of Law (minors) Law School: Yale Law School Year: 3L

Favorite Movies: The Silence of the Lambs, Gangs of New York, Slumdog Millionaire, A Beautiful Mind, When We Were Kings, To Kill a Mockingbird, Glory, The Departed, Four Brothers, Crash, The Prestige, The Illusionist, Taken, Zulu

Favorite Music Artists and Groups: Matchbox Twenty, Corinne Bailey Rae, Maroon 5, Adele, Kate Nash, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Beyonce, Drake, J. Cole, Robin Thicke, Natasha Bedingfield, Nickelback, Sade, Michael Jackson, James Blunt

Favorite Hobby: I’m a History Channel, CNBC, serial drama, and crime show junkie so I binge on episodes of Prison Break, Cold Case Files, American Greed, Crime Inc., or random biopics during the rare moments that I have to myself.

Favorite Quotes: “I stand on the shoulders of countless people, yet there is one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration— that person is my mother.” —Justice Sonia Sotomayor “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”—Booker T. Washington “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are [truly formidable], for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”—T. E. Lawrence Favorite Legal Subjects: Evidence, Intellectual Property, Legal Research and Writing, Contracts Most Impactful Legal Case: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Grutter v. Bollinger Law School Co-curricular/Extracurricular Activities: Internal Chief of Staff, National Black Law Students Association; President, Yale Black Law Students AsAnnual 2012 Edition


Favorite Books: Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, The Street by Anne Petry, Play It As It Lays by Joan Diddion, Another Country by James Baldwin, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad


Law Student Profile sociation; Assistant to Dr. Elizabeth Alexander (President Obama’s inaugural poet and Chair of African American Studies), Yale University; Research Assistant, Yale Law School Legal Internships/Work Experience: Summer Associate, Dewey & LeBeouf LLP (2009, 2010, 2011); Summer Associate, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (2011) Lawyer Role Models: Jane M. Bolin and Constance Baker Motley Most Memorable Law School Experience to Date: During law school, I served Yale’s Black law student contingent as our BLSA chapter president and worked on the national level the following year as NBLSA’s Internal Chief of Staff. These two experiences combined have provided me tremendous insight on organizational management, the intricacies of student and professional affinity groups, and reinforced my commitment to servant leadership. As a representative of both groups, I interacted with key leaders in the Black legal community and met law students whose stories inspired me to continue giving back. I am certain the contacts made and mentor relationships formed during my tenure with both groups will help me over the life span of my legal career. The Best Preparation for the LSAT Is: The best preparation method for the LSAT is to take practice exams—as many different tests as possible—under simulated testing conditions. Timing and scoring yourself are the keys to mastery. After cranking through a few exams, start boning up on the areas where your score can use the greatest improvement. The Best Preparation for Law School Is: Although many students are not fortunate to realize their intention to pursue law school during their freshman year of college, some do. If you find yourself considering this post-graduation pursuit early on, search out a pre-law mentor at your undergraduate institution. The person filling this role can range from a pre-law advisor to a professor who either is an attorney or has counseled students through the law school application process. In the meantime, start out by choosing a major that can build and sharpen a few core competencies that will serve you well in law school. These include writing skills, critical reading mastery, analytic thinking, time management, and decision-making abilities.



For students in their sophomore and junior years of college, I would recommend participating in a preAnnual 2012 Edition

Jomaire at Q&A for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) panel hosted at New York University

law program that exposes you to the rigors of standard first-year law courses. I am a proud alumna of two such programs: the Ronald H. Brown Summer Law School Preparatory Institute at St. John’s School of Law and the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Corporate Law Program. Other programs exist around the country, including the Charles Hamilton Houston Law School Preparatory Institute (CHH), and Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO). The benefit of these immersive programs is to give you firsthand experience with the intensity and rigor required to succeed in law school—which is something that your academic experiences in college may not always foreshadow. In short, the best preparation is to know what you’re getting yourself into. The only way you can do that is by reading as much about law school and the different law schools as possible. Best Advice I Received on Law School Admission: I vividly remember being told to invoke the art (and power) of storytelling in my law school applications. Underlying this seemingly unconventional advice is the idea of creating a meta-narrative through your personal statement, extracurricular descriptions, and even your resume, that captures both your academic interests and your personal interestingness. By weaving a carefully selected theme or narrative throughout your application materials, you can increase your chances of delivering a holistic and colorful snapshot of why you deserve a seat in any law school’s next entering class. What I Believe Was My “Wow Factor” or “X Factor” in the Admission Process: Perhaps it was my near-perfect 3.98 GPA or my law school-specific letters of recommendation—I’ll never know. But one principle that informed my process was a desire to communicate a sense of deliberateness. This calculated and purposive approach led me

Law Student Profile to start by researching (and demystifying) the admissions process. After assessing my candidacy relative to certain admissions-related benchmarks, I began identifying of-interest clinical programs and professors at different law schools. Then I spoke with my recommenders about my findings and communicated my general enthusiasm to attend law school. With all the information I had stockpiled, and by the time it was my turn to sit down and articulate “why me” or “why law school,” I could rattle off a laundry list of reasons explaining just that. Best Advice I Received on Law School Success: Our entering classes are often welcomed into the Yale Law School community with the following words from our former dean Guido Calabresi: “My friends, you are off the treadmill now.” Getting “off the treadmill” allowed me to embrace the magic and many challenges that my law school career would have in store for me. The encouragement from day one to compete only amongst myself set the tone for what I can now call a remarkable tale of triumph. What Advice I Didn’t Receive About Law School Admission and Law School Success That I Wish I Would Have Been Told: “The only silly question is the one left unasked.”

Why I Want to Become a Lawyer: Having succeeded as a mock trial competitor at St. John’s, I viewed law school as a logical extension of the advocacy training that I received. I also wanted to combine my interests in rhetoric, public speaking, and argumentation to carve out a potential career as a trial attorney. Law school has brought me closer to this aspiration—through courses like Evidence Law and Trial Advocacy—and I hope that my first few years working at a firm will present additional opportunities (either pro bono or deposition related) to fine-tune this skillset. I Want My Legacy To Be That: I want to leave behind a legacy that highlights my compassion to help just as clearly as it reflects my competency to perform. If I can leverage my success to create opportunities for successive generations of pre-law students, I think those investments made as part of my own development will have certainly been worthwhile.

AlbAny lAw school

is committed to promoting an educational environment that values, respects and reflects a global view of diversity.

The only law school in the powerful capital of New York. Private, independent, focused only on the study of law. Diverse, accessible faculty. 13:1 Student/Faculty Ratio. Students from more than 30 states, and 15 countries. Offering over 150 internship opportunities.

Annual 2012 Edition


Albany Law in New York’s Capital. Knowledge Empowers.

What Most Surprised Me About the Law School Experience: I was most surprised by how equalizing my first-semester experience would be. The whole thing was

akin to a foreign language immersion course—where everyone spoke a native tongue that was different from the language we were being assimilated into. Learning the language of the law (and the accompanying principles, concepts, and doctrine) was a new experience for us all. Starting out on an even keel with my classmates was both surprising and stimulating. It helped me challenge myself daily to think critically and question everything.


Law Student Profile

Stanley G. Settle II Name: Stanley G. Settle II Undergraduate College/University Attended: University of California, Davis Undergraduate Major and Minor: Political Science (major); Sociology (minor) Law School: Southern University Law Center Year: 3L

Favorite Books: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Living and Loving Out Loud, Never Die Easy, Jesus and the Disinherited

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” “When you lay your head on that pillow, can you honestly say that you have done all of your responsibilities to the fullest? Self reflection son, always reflect on you and make yourself better!” Favorite Legal Subjects: Environmental Justice, Regulation of Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Regulation of Air and Water, Contracts, Criminal Law Most Impactful Legal Case: Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States

Favorite Movies: Glory Road, Do The Right Thing, Crash Favorite Music Artists and Groups: Kirk Franklin, Miles Davis, Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul

Favorite Hobby: Playing sports and watching sports.



Favorite Quotes: “You can walk on water, just don’t look down at your feet.”

Annual 2012 Edition

Law School Co-curricular/Extracurricular Activities: I’m very involved in my local BLSA chapter and I am the National Director of the Pre-Law Division for NBLSA. I also serve on several committees at my law school and I participate in the law school sports activities throughout the year. Legal Internships/Work Experiences: I have served as the law clerk for The Honorable Judge Walton of the Los Angeles Superior Court. This fall I am clerking for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Law Student Profile

Most Memorable Law School Experience to Date: The most memorable law school experience to date was the date of my trial for my Trial Advocacy class. The trial incorporated many of the courses that I had taken in law school and gave them some practical meaning to me. I saw the rules of evidence become clearer in the moment. I saw why I needed the ability to not only analyze but to be able to analyze on the fly which you’re forced to do in class. And I saw how your own research and writing comes into play as far as the way the judge comes into the trial with questions. The trial advocacy experience shined. It gave me credit for the things I have been doing and have done well and gave me things to work on as I move forward. It was by far the most memorable law school experience for me. The Best Preparation for the LSAT Is: In my opinion, the best preparation for the LSAT is taking a test prep course and ALLOWING YOURSELF TIME to study. Don’t stretch yourself thin. You need time to be prepared for this. The Best Preparation for Law School Is: The best preparation for law school is reading. Read everything that you can get your hands on. Get used to nights of just reading because there were weeks when I would go without television or video games. Try to train yourself to read as a relaxing activity before law school. That may help. Best Advice I Received on Law School Admission: The best advice that I received on law school admission was to show myself through the law school process, and don’t hold anything back that might put a question in their mind. Show them why you’re special and why they want you to be one of their students and eventually an alumnus. What I Believe Was My “Wow Factor” or “X Factor” in the Admission Process: I believe my “wow factor” was the fact that I was willing to share my story through my personal statement. I showed that I improved myself. Year to year, I got better and better. I showed growth and continuing improvement in my personal statement that I believe was indeed my wow factor. Best Advice I Received on Law School Success: The best advice that I received on law school success was

to just get there and WORK! There is no way around it. I was told that I was smart enough for it but they are going to make me work for it and those that don’t show that they want it, or have been going about it the wrong way won’t be there anymore. That was all true. What Advice I Didn’t Receive About Law School Admission and Law School Success That I Wish I Would Have Been Told: I feel like I got all of the advice I needed for the law school admission process but that was also partly because I sought as many opinions as I could. Advice I wish I would have been told about law school success would be that as competitive as you thought your undergraduate institution was, please understand that law school is worse so you must be very confident in yourself and in your ways of doing things. You must run your own race, heed the upperclassmen’s and professors’ blueprints, but take their blueprints and make your own because everyone learns differently. What Most Surprised Me About the Law School Experience: The thing that most surprised me about the law school experience was that I quickly found that the academic work in law school was not as extremely challenging as it was portrayed. The thing that makes law school different than most other academic experiences is that there is a large amount of work you are assigned. Don’t misunderstand me though, the work is challenging, however what surprised me was that it was more challenging finding time to do everything that I needed to do. Why I Want to Become a Lawyer: I would like to be a lawyer in order to find an opportunity to help my community. I know it sounds cliché and everyone says it but that is really why I decided to go on this journey. There are things that happened within my extended family when I was younger that made me curious about why legal matters progressed in the manner that they did. Furthermore, as I was growing up, my parents made sure that I was very active in my community and my grandparents often discussed legal issues with me. I began to realize that there are many within our community and other communities that are not aware of some of the consequences of their actions and some of their inactions as far as community matters are concerned. I Want My Legacy To Be That: I would like my legacy to be that in some way I helped to make the law more attainable for all of those who it affects, not just those that can afford the opinion of a high-priced attorney. Annual 2012 Edition


Lawyer Role Models: My lawyer role models are really my professors at my law school; professors really help shape you as a law student. My role models would be my professors like Prof. Donald North, Prof. Russell Jones, and Prof. Herbert Brown.


Lawyer Profile

Angela Rye, Esq.

Executive Director and General Counsel The Congressional Black Caucus Washington, DC Full Name: Angela T. Rye High School: Holy Names Academy College/University: University of Washington Law School: Seattle University School of Law Legacy (Children): Not yet!

Angela Rye is one of the most dynamic young leaders on Capitol Hill. She has been featured in The Root 100, MSNBC’s “BLTWY Power List: 35 Under 35 Who Changed DC”, the Washington Post’s “Who Runs Gov”, and recognized as one of DC’s Most Influential, among others. Ms. Rye currently serves as the Executive Director and General Counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus. In her role as executive director, Rye is tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the caucus.

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ost recently, she served as Senior Advisor and Counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman. There she was charged with developing the general political strategy for the Committee with a focus on assisting disenfranchised, small minority owned businesses. Upon moving to the Nation’s Capital, Rye co-founded IMPACT (, an organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement. The five-year-old organization has quickly become a powerful voice and advocate for today’s young professionals of color nationwide. Rye continues to serve as IMPACT’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. During her tenure with the organization, IMPACT has formed partnerships with

Annual 2012 Edition

the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Rainbow PUSH’s Wall Street Project, Young & Powerful, Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, Black Leadership Forum, and others. Rye began her career in legislative advocacy upon graduating from Seattle University School of Law, at the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), which is the umbrella association for the Nation’s 120 historically and predom-

Lawyer Profile

 Were you the first lawyer in your family? Yes. In my immediate family. I have an amazing cousin, Anita who blazed the trail before me and was a cheerleader and source of strength throughout the law school process.  When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer? At six-years-old . . .even though I couldn’t spell it! I wrote in a Cabbage Patch scrapbook: “loyer.”  What is most difficult about being a lawyer? As an advocate generally, it is extremely important to me to see large scale change happen quickly. In many instances, the injustices that face our communities are not only disregarded, but in so many other instances perpetuated. For example, the recent onslaught of restrictive voting laws that were introduced in state legislatures all over the country to suppress the votes of people of color, seniors, disabled, and students!  What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing Black law students and lawyers? The economy--the unemployment rate is double the national average for African Americans. I think economic opportunity is just as impor-

Chair of the Greater Washington Area Chapter (GWAC) for the Women’s Law Division of the National Bar Association, Rye is committed to shoring up efforts to increase knowledge of the political processes for her colleagues and peers. Rye’s reputation for advocacy led to her recent appointment to the American Bar Association’s Government Affairs Committee, where she serves as the Young Lawyers Division Liaison. She is also Vice Chair of the National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rye learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism. She now resides in Bowie, Maryland and is a member of Reid Temple AME Church.

tant to Black lawyers/law students as it is for the rest of Black America.  Do you feel Black lawyers have a special obligation to the Black community and other Black people interested in becoming lawyers? Yes, of course. While Charles Hamilton Houston gave us an option, it isn’t really option at all--to be a parasite on society or the RECOMMENDED role as a social engineer. Houston said that a social engineer was a highly skilled, perceptive, sensitive lawyer who understood the Constitution of the United States and knew how to explore its uses in the solving of “problems of local communities” and in “bettering conditions of the underprivileged citizens.”

 What other dreams and aspirations do you have - beyond the practice of law? I would like to find more time to serve the people--train future lawyers! IMPACT is a great outlet for me. Our nonprofit was established to connect young professionals of color to civic engagement, political involvement, and economic empowerment initiatives. I want to continue connecting students and my peers to initiatives and projects that make a positive difference.

 Who is your biggest supporter/cheerleader? It’s a tie--my mother, Andrea Rye and father, Eddie Rye.  What legacy do you hope to leave? The legacy of an agent of real, impactful change.

Annual 2012 Edition


inately Black colleges and universities on Capitol Hill and with the Executive Branch. At NAFEO, she served as the Coordinator of Advocacy and Legislative Affairs. Prior to NAFEO, Rye had the privilege of serving as a Legal Extern in Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Los Angeles office. While working in the district office, Rye learned about legislative procedure and organization, as well as developed favorable public policy for constituents, and assisted in the mobilization and organization of community members to make a difference locally. Rye also served as the Western Region Director for the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) where she managed and supervised the Western Region Executive Board. Formerly the Legislative Affairs


Lawyer Profile

Cassandra Sneed Ogden, Esq. Executive Director Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) Washington, DC Full Name: Cassandra Sneed Ogden High School: Calvin Coolidge College/University: DC Teachers College Law School: Georgetown University Law Center Legacy (children): Jonathan Ogden and Marques Ogden Favorite quotes: “We were all born to win” - Me. “Life isn’t about surviving the storm; it’s about learning to dance in the rain” - Another

Cassandra Sneed Ogden has served as the Executive Director of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) since 1995. Under her leadership, CLEO has successfully implemented several new programs to prepare college students to enter law school, graduate and pass the bar examination.


rior to working with CLEO, Cassandra was Chief of the Office of Civil Infraction at the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. In that capacity, she established a quasi-judicial regulatory compliance system that allowed inspectors to issue civil citations for licensing, zoning, housing and other regulatory violations. As a graduate of the District of Columbia Public School System and Teachers College, Cassandra spent her early years teaching science and mathematics to middle school students before taking a position as a  Were you the first lawyer in your family? Yes.



 When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer? I have always wanted to help others. As a young child, I wanted to become a doctor. After college,

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programmer / analyst with the local telephone company. After earning her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and passing the District of Columbia and Maryland State Bar Examinations, Cassandra founded a nonprofit project, PTB Testing Techniques, to teach students how to study to pass the bar. She also spent several years working at the firm of Hudson Leftwich and Davenport, as an administrative law judge, and as the Co-Chair of the District of Columbia Tourism Task Force Team.

I taught general science in junior high school for a couple of years before becoming a computer programmer. I met several lawyers while working as a programmer who convinced me that I would be able to help many more people by becoming an attorney.

 What is your best memory from law school? Studying for the bar examination.  What is your worst memory from law school? Not understanding how classes are taught (the Socratic Method), or IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclu-

Lawyer Profile

 What did you take away from the law school experience that you believe was an important lesson in life? You can accomplish any goal that you set for yourself by being disciplined, working hard, and getting help when necessary.  What was your favorite subject in law school?  Torts.  What are your thoughts about the bar exam?  The bar exam is not difficult if you understand what is being tested. You must know the black letter law in order to pass the exam, but just knowing the law does not ensure that you will succeed.  How did you feel the day you were officially sworn in as an “attorney at law”?  Highly accomplished. Also, it felt like the past four years (I was an evening student) had flown by very quickly. My son, who was just a baby when I started law school, was now in kindergarten.  What is most difficult about being a lawyer? Learning to detach from the outcome in certain situations and remembering that you’re not the judge or the jury, but you’re there to represent your client to the very best of your ability.     What is your greatest success as a lawyer?  CLEO and its legacy.  What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing Black law students and lawyers?  Our public school systems are failing our kids. Many of today’s students are not adequately prepared to meet the academic challenges of law school. And unfortunately, they are not willing to put in the work required to get their skills up to a competitive level. We must be

vigilant about honestly assessing our strengths and taking the necessary steps to improve.  Do you feel Black lawyers have a special obligation to the Black community and other Black people interested in becoming lawyers? No. I believe that I have a special obligation to my community and to any student who is interested in becoming a lawyer and would like some assistance. I was raised in a Black community, but my children were not. And my granddaughter is biracial. It would be nice if all lawyers had a special obligation to their community.  What does being a lawyer mean to you?  I worked in a law firm for three years after graduation but I did not enjoy the stress associated with private practice. Being a lawyer has provided me with the flexibility to work in several different areas. However, I feel extremely fortunate to have found the perfect job that combines my background in education with my law degree.

known? I didn’t understand the importance of first-year grades or on-campus interviews. I also didn’t understand the importance of networking.  What other dreams and aspirations do you have - beyond the practice of law?  I intend to write a book.  What would people be surprised to learn about you?  I started an organization of mothers of professional football players.  Who is your biggest supporter/cheerleader? Me.  Favorite legal show or television judge:  Drop Dead Diva  Favorite food:  Maryland blue crabs  Favorite drink:  Kale smoothie  Favorite dessert:  Chocolate chip cookies

 What are your future goals as a lawyer? To help establish an endowment for CLEO that will enable it to assist thousands of students for many years to come.  What do you feel is the best preparation for law school?  A sound undergraduate education that includes rigorous courses that require critical reading, analysis, and extensive research and writing. And before starting law school, students should attend a seminar or workshop like the CLEO Attitude Is Essential seminar to experience the Socratic Method, briefing a case, and taking a law school examination.

 Favorite book: The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Shovel Shinn  Favorite television show:  House Hunters International

 What is the one thing about law school and the practice of law that no one ever told you but you wish you had

Annual 2012 Edition


sion) until the end of the first semester.


Lawyer Profile

 Favorite movie: Persuasion

 Favorite musical group: The Temptations

Detail-oriented, analytical, committed, and creative.

 Favorite song: “I Release and I Let Go”

 Favorite Bible scripture: Matthew 6:10 - Thy Will Be Done

 Favorite type of music: Music from the 70s

 Favorite vacation destination: Paris, France

 What legacy do you hope to leave? A $5 million endowment for CLEO.

 Favorite musical artist: Celine Dion

 Favorite historical figure: Thurgood Marshall  Favorite hobby: Playing cards.  What adjectives best describe you? 

 What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to aspiring lawyers? Rome was not built in a day. You cannot wake up one morning and decide that you want to become a lawyer and walk into the courtroom three years later. There is no magic wand. But with a good roadmap (or GPS system), a serious commitment, and hard work, your success is assured.




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Lawyer Profile

Carla D. Pratt, Esq.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Professor of Law Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law Houston, Texas Full Name: Carla D. Pratt High School: Sherman High School College/University: E ast Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce) Law School: Howard University School of Law Legacy (Children): Payton Pratt (girl, age 17) and Christopher Pratt (boy, age 14) Favorite Quotes: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Ghandi “When all else fails I still have God.” - Me

Carla D. Pratt is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Law at Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law. She also serves as an Associate Justice to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Supreme Court. She has taught courses in Constitutional Law, Race and American Law, Professional Responsibility, Criminal Law and Federal Indian Law.

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rofessor Pratt’s scholarly interests examine the legal construction of racial identity and the role of race in the legal profession. She is particularly interested in exploring why racial diversity is important in the legal profession and how racial identity shapes professional identity. Her most recent project is a qualitative study of African American lawyers that seeks to discover how African Americans successfully navigate the pipeline to the legal profession. The results of this study are published in a book co-authored with her Penn State colleague Dr. Dorothy Evensen who teaches in the College of Education. The book is published by Carolina Academic Press and is entitled The End of the Pipeline: A Journey of Recognition for African Americans Entering the Legal Profession. Dean Pratt has published articles in various law reviews including, the Wisconsin Law Review, the Fordham Law Review, and Washington and Lee’s Race and Ethnic Ancestry Law Review.

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She graduated with honors from Howard University School of Law where she was a Merit Scholar and the recipient of numerous awards for academic achievement. At Howard, she also served as an editor of the Howard Law Journal and research assistant to Dean Henry Ramsey Jr. Before joining the legal academy, Dean Pratt practiced law as a Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey and in private practice at Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP in Philadelphia. Dean Pratt is committed to improving diversity in law schools and the legal profession and is the recipient of the Philip J. McConnaughay Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of her diversity related work at Penn State Law. She was also appointed by the President of Penn State University to serve as an ally member of Penn State’s LGBT Equity Commission, an advisory committee to the President of Penn State University that seeks to improve the experience of LGBT students, staff and faculty at the university. Dean Pratt is admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Lawyer Profile

 When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer? When my family’s health insurance carrier refused to pay my mother’s hospital bills and my father had to sell our farm to pay the bills.  What is your best memory from law school? Being told that I was invited to become a member of the law journal.  What is your worst memory from law school? Performing poorly on my first exam.  What did you take away from the law school experience that you believe was an important lesson in life? Hard work pays off.  What was your favorite subject in law school? Constitutional Law and Contracts.  What are your thoughts about the bar exam? I think there should be a unified national exam, and once a person passes it, they should be permitted to practice in any state.  How did you feel the day you were officially sworn in as an “attorney at law”? Relieved and proud.  What is most difficult about being a lawyer? The unyielding demand to be more efficient.  What is your greatest success as a lawyer? Winning a pro bono case to have a woman’s children returned to her.  What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing Black law students and lawyers? Adequate academic preparation.  Do you feel Black lawyers have a special obligation to

the Black community and other Black people interested in becoming lawyers? I feel this obligation myself, and it is a value that permeates the Black community and one of which I am very proud, but I don’t fault Black lawyers for trying to get their own careers established before trying to help others.

spire me in both my personal and professional pursuits.  Favorite legal show or television judge: I don’t have one now, but I loved LA Law when it was on TV.

 What does being a lawyer mean to you? It means having the privilege and the power to use law toward advancing the goals that are important to me and my community.  What are your future goals as a lawyer? I want to continue to teach young people how to be good lawyers.  What do you feel is the best preparation for law school? A rigorous liberal arts program.  What is the one thing about law school and the practice of law that no one ever told you but you wish you had known? That working hard academically should start in high school and college; Don’t wait until law school to get serious about academic study.  What other dreams and aspirations do you have - beyond the practice of law? I hope to raise two children into responsible adults who contribute to society in some positive and meaningful way.

 Favorite food: I love all foods so choosing a favorite is hard, but if pushed, I would have to say Mexican food is my favorite.  Favorite drink: Homemade strawberry lemonade  Favorite dessert: Peach cobbler topped with Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream

 Favorite book: To Kill A Mockingbird

 What would people be surprised to learn about you? I grew up on a farm where I drove a tractor, milked cows, gathered eggs and made homemade butter.  Who is your biggest supporter/cheerleader? My biggest supporters were my parents, Carl and Johnnie Mae White. Both of them have passed away now, but they continue to in-

Annual 2012 Edition


 Were you the first lawyer in your family? Yes.


Lawyer Profile

 Favorite television show: Don’t have one.  Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption  Favorite song: “Amazing Grace”  Favorite type of music: Old school R&B and Country  Favorite musical artist: My cousin James Kinney is my favorite.

 Favorite musical group: Again, there isn’t just one. I like groups ranging from the Temptations to Rascal Flatts.   Favorite Bible scripture: Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (King James Version).  Favorite vacation destination: My farm in rural Oklahoma.

 What legacy do you hope to leave? I hope my presence on Earth makes someone else’s journey here a little easier or more enjoyable.  What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to aspiring lawyers? Work twice as hard as those around you and you will succeed.

 Favorite historical figure: There isn’t just one. Included on my list are: Fredrick Douglass, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Sojourner Truth.  Favorite hobby: Cooking and entertaining.  What adjectives best describe you? Determined, diligent, considerate, and compassionate.

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Lawyer Profile

Leonard M. Baynes, Esq.

Professor of Law Director, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development St. John’s University School of Law Queens, New York Full Name: Leonard M. Baynes High School: Monsignor McClancy High School College/University: New York University Law School: Columbia University School of Law Favorite Quote: “Yes we can!” “Si se puede!”

Leonard M. Baynes is Professor of Law and the inaugural Director of The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law. On January 25, 2007, at the Vincentian Convocation, St. John’s University recognized Professor Baynes’ service and accomplishments with the prestigious President’s Medal. cations Commission, where he served as a member of the Opportunity Team and worked on minority access and ownership issues. In 1999, Professor Baynes lectured in international continuing legal education programs on telecommunications issues in Bogotá, Columbia and Panama City, Panama. In 2004, Professor Baynes served as an expert witness at the Federal Communications Commission Federal Advisory Committee for Diversity in broadcast ownership. In 2006, the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council (“MMTC”) inducted Professor Baynes into its Hall of Fame. In presenting the award, Former FCC Commissioner and MMTC Chair Henry Rivera described Professor Baynes as “a champion for diversity.” Past inductees include former FCC Chairman William Kennard, Congressman John Conyers, Johnnie Cochran (posthumously), former Congressman William Gray, and Inner City Broadcaster founder and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton. Also in 2006, Professor Baynes signed a contract with Aspen Publishers to co-author (with Professors Allen Hammond IV and Catherine Sandoval) a case

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rofessor Baynes received his B.S. from New York University and J.D./M.B.A. from Columbia University. At Columbia, Professor Baynes was awarded the Earl Warren Scholarship, the COGME Fellowship and was associate editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. He is also a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Economic Honors Society. Immediately after law school, Professor Baynes served as a Law Clerk to Federal District Court Judge Clifford Scott Green in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Professor Baynes teaches Business Organizations, Communications Law, Regulated Industries, Race and the Law, and Law and Perspectives on Justice, a course exclusively offered to second-year staff members of the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development in which the students write a note, blog and op-ed. Professor Baynes is a nationally recognized communications law scholar, specializing in race and media issues. While on leave of absence and sabbatical, from 1997 to 2001, Professor Baynes worked for then-FCC Chairman William E. Kennard as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Federal Communi-


Lawyer Profile

book entitled: “Telecommunications Law: Convergence and Competition.” Professor Baynes has written over twenty-five law review articles on Race/Racism and the Law, Corporate Law, Communications Law, or the intersection of the three. Professor Baynes has also won numerous other awards. In April 2004, the Small Business Administration (SBA) presented Professor Baynes with an award for his service to the law school community. In September 2004, Dean Mary Daly presented Professor Baynes with an award for his teaching of his Race and the Law course. In October 2004, Professor Baynes was presented The Extraordinary Service Award for his teaching, scholarship, and service by the Second National People of Color Conference. In 2005 and 2006, Professor Baynes received an award from the John Jay College of Criminal Law Puerto Rican/Latin American Studies Department for his involvement in the creation of The Ronald H. Brown Summer Prep Program for College Students. In fact, in a memo to the law school community, Dean Daly cited Professor Baynes as the “driving force” for the creation of the Summer Prep Program. In 2010, Professor Baynes also was awarded the Diversity Trailblazer Award by the New York Bar Association, and in 2011, Professor Baynes accepted the American Bar Association Alexander Award on behalf of The Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for College Students, which was the first law school-based pipeline program to win this prestigious award. Professor Baynes is also very active in academic circles and is especially concerned about diversity issues. He is the past Chair of the AALS Minority Law  Were you the first lawyer in your family? Yes.  When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer? When I was in elementary school.  What is your best memory from law school? Friends that I made.  What is your worst memory from law school? Socratic method.



 What did you take away from the law school experience that you believe was an important lesson in life?

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Section, and served as Chair of the Planning Committee for the AALS Workshop on Racial Justice in A New Millennium; From Brown to Grutter: Methods to Achieve Non-Discrimination and Comparable Racial Equality. As Chair of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) standing Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Minority Faculty, Professor Baynes co-authored the committee commentary to a report entitled “The Racial Gap in the Promotion to Tenure of Law Professors.” The committee commentary and AALS report were the first of their kind commissioned by the AALS and showed a clear disparity in tenure rates between professors of color and white professors. On January 18, 2007, Professor Baynes testified at a forum entitled “A Public Forum: A Lasting Blueprint for Judicial Diversity.” The forum was sponsored by then-New York State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith. In his testimony, Professor Baynes examined the underrepresentation of people of color in the New York State judiciary and in New York State law schools. Professor Baynes is one of the founding members of Northeastern People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference. This Conference provides opportunities for junior faculty to present works-in-progress in which they receive feedback in safe environments. These annual conferences have been held at the law schools throughout the Northeast and the Caribbean. Lastly, Professor Baynes is admitted to practice in both New York State and Massachusetts.

Work hard and believe in yourself.  What was your favorite subject in law school? Corporations.  What are your thoughts about the bar exam? Doable if you pace yourself and maximize what you know.  How did you feel the day you were officially sworn in as an “attorney at law”? Honored!  What is most difficult about being a lawyer? Balancing the workload.

 What is your greatest success as a lawyer? Negotiating the highest pole attachment rates in the country at the time for New England Telephone Co.  What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing Black law students and lawyers? Access to information and networks and organization.  Do you feel Black lawyers have a special obligation to the Black community and other Black people interested in becoming lawyers? Yes.

Lawyer Profile

 What does being a lawyer mean to you? It is a privilege which allows me to help solve people’s problems.

 Favorite dessert: Carrot cake

 Favorite musical group: Destiny’s Child

 What are your future goals as a lawyer? Keep teaching law.  What do you feel is the best preparation for law school? Interning in a legal office and participating in a prep program to get a handle on what law school is like. Working hard in undergraduate school to take challenging courses that help with critical analysis, reading and writing.

 Favorite book: Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

 Favorite vacation destination: Caribbean

 What is the one thing about law school and the practice of law that no one ever told you but you wish you had known? How to figure out what was going on in class and how it related to the readings.  What would people be surprised to learn about you? That I do boxing training.  Who is your biggest supporter/cheerleader? My parents, siblings and other family members.  Favorite legal show or television judge: Law and Order

 Favorite Bible scripture: A prophet finds no honor in his homeland (John 4:44)

 Favorite television show: Dallas

 Favorite historical figure: FDR

 Favorite movie: Ironman  Favorite song: “Like a Prayer” by Madonna  Favorite type of music: Dance  Favorite musical artist: Michael Jackson  Favorite hobby: Reading.  What adjectives best describe you? Hard worker and determined.  What legacy do you hope to leave? Through Prep Program’s work, I want to continue to develop the next generation of lawyers of color.

 Favorite drink: Water

 What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to aspiring lawyers? Stay connected and work hard.

Annual 2012 Edition


 Favorite food: Oxtail


Lawyer Profile

Sherry D. Williams, Esq.

Senior Vice President, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Halliburton Houston, Texas

Full Name: Sherry D. Williams High School: High School for Finance Professions at Polytechnic College/University: University of Oklahoma Law School: University of Miami School of Law Legacy (Children): Sloane A. Williams (2 years of age, daughter) Favorite Quotes: My Own Quote: “Don’t fail because of obstacles, achieve in spite of them.” Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light not our darkness that frightens us most.  We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous.’  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.”

Sherry D. Williams is Senior Vice President, Chief Ethics and Compliance officer for Halliburton, leading the Company’s global compliance function. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Williams was Vice President and Corporate Secretary, with responsibility for the Public Company Law Group. In this capacity, she also serves on the Legal Management Team, the governing body that determines the function and development of Halliburton’s Global Law Department.

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efore these roles, Ms. Williams was Senior Counsel for Halliburton, where she managed complex commercial litigation, both domestic and international, and was responsible for setting litigation strategy, managing outside law firms, managing litigation budgets, and serving as a liaison between the Law Department and businessunit senior management. Ms. Williams was formerly an attorney with the AmLaw 100 law firm of K&L Gates LLP, where she

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practiced in the areas of complex commercial litigation, employment, and class-action defense. Ms. Williams earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1992 and is a 1995 graduate of the University of Miami School of Law. She is a member of the state bars of Florida, New Jersey and New York; The Greater Houston Business Ethics Round Table and the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association; the Association of Corporate Counsel; and the Society of Corporate Secretaries

Lawyer Profile

 Were you the first lawyer in your family? Yes.  When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer? At the age of 9.  What is your best memory from law school? Graduation. My mother was present and given the sacrifices she made for my education, it was a very emotional moment. Additionally, I was hooded by the Professor Robert H. Waters who helped me to be admitted into law school.  What is your worst memory from law school? Hurricane Andrew!   It hit Miami the Saturday prior to law school starting on Monday.   Andrew destroyed the entire city including my apartment and the law school.  What did you take away from the law school experience that you believe was an important lesson in life? It’s a waste of time to exert too much energy competing with others.   Compete with your own best work and only use others as benchmarks for learning -- you will be better off.  What was your favorite subject in law school? Evidence taught by Professor Michael Fischal.  What are your thoughts about the bar exam? Overall it’s a glorified reading comprehension test. You have spent three years learning much

Ms. Williams is a frequent speaker and panelist on many topics, including client management and client development for outside counsel, legal training best practices, career management, ethics and compliance, leadership, and diversity.

of it and six to eight weeks studying for it. So if you have done the work, you know the substance; but often testers make mistakes by rushing, and therefore misreading the questions and answers.   Slow down, read the actual words on the page and trust your preparation.  How did you feel the day you were officially sworn in as an “attorney at law”? Relieved.   What is most difficult about being a lawyer? The realization that people make significant business decisions and sometimes life or death decisions based on your advice and counsel as their attorney.  It is not a profession to be entered into lightly.  What is your greatest success as a lawyer? I haven’t achieved it yet.  What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing Black law students and lawyers? Seeing yourself as a competent lawyer or student, and not a stereotype.  Do you feel Black lawyers have a special obligation to the Black community and other Black people interested in becoming lawyers? I would say that all people who are privileged to practice law have a special obligation to the greater good.   This is especially true for communities that have suffered historic discrimination and hardship.

 What does being a lawyer mean to you? Becoming a lawyer was the fulfillment of my personal destiny. It’s a profession I love and believe I am well suited to practice.  What are your future goals as a lawyer? My future goal is to continue to be the best attorney I can; and to place myself in position for significant opportunities that are personally and professionally fulfilling.   What do you feel is the best preparation for law school? Having a love of learning, an ability to read, digest and understand huge amounts of complicated information and to approach matters in a logical way.   There are no particular classes or majors that prepare you better than others.   Math, Economics, History, English or even Engineering can launch successful legal careers.  You simply have to know yourself and have the mental toughness to make it through.  What is the one thing about law school and the practice of law that no one ever told you but you wish you had known? That you don’t “practice” law, you “become” a lawyer.   The training changes everything about the way you view the world.   Sometimes that is difficult for others to understand.  What other dreams and aspirations do you have - beyond the practice of law?

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and Governance Professionals. She is a director of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Counsel and Houston’s Alley Theatre. She has formerly served on the board of directors of Women of Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that mentors at-risk young women and the University of Miami Law Alumni Association.


Lawyer Profile

I hope to write a book one day and I plan to spend a summer traveling the world with my daughter after she graduates college.  What would people be surprised to learn about you? That I love cooking and I still send handwritten notes through the United States Postal Service.  Who is your biggest supporter/cheerleader? I have many, but in order, my family, my friends, and my General Counsel.

of favorites. I share my current favorite with my little girl … The Princess and the Frog.  Favorite song: Changes all the time.  Favorite type of music: Jazz  Favorite musical artist: Lizz Wright

 Favorite hobby: Cooking.

 Favorite legal show or television judge: Suits on USA

 What adjectives best describe you? Passionate.

 Favorite musical group: None

 Favorite food: I enjoy many different types of food, so don’t really have a favorite.  Favorite drink: Champagne  Favorite dessert: Crème Brulee  Favorite book: Beloved by Toni Morrison



 Favorite movie: Now that depends … I like lots of movies and I have a large number

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 Favorite historical figure: Frederick Douglass

 Favorite Bible scripture: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the  Lord, “plans to prosper  you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Favorite vacation destination: Italy

 What legacy do you hope to leave? I think of a legacy simply as having lived a life where I have helped people, loved them and done the best I could do with the time I was given.  What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to aspiring lawyers? Approach your career like a business owner. The ownership mindset keeps you focused on acting in your own best interest.

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Choose your fit between the full- and parttime divisions. Experience hands-on learning in field placements and externships. Give back to the community through the Pro Bono and Public Interest programs. Join a welcoming community inside and outside the classroom.



Legal education with a conscience

“BARRY gave me the opportunity to pursue my goals and dreams. I was drawn to the school’s strong mission and commitment to excellence. Now that I have my own law practice, I am very thankful for everything BARRY has provided me.” — Eric V. Hires, Esq. The Law Office of Eric V. Hires, LLC

ORLANDO, FLORIDA Barry University School of Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association (Section of Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar, ABA, 321 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654, 312-988-6738).

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At West Virginia University College of Law, we will equip you to practice law in a complex and changing world. You will discover intellectual rewards in every area of study, from energy and environemntal law to litigation, family, and public interest law. If you have a passion for justice, an interest in how our legal system contributes to society, and a desire to learn in a structured and creative environment, join us at WVU Law.

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WVULAW wvu-2012.indd 1 9/10/2012 11:52:38 AM

A Lawyer’s Life and Work From Top Corporate Attorney to Non-Profit Development Leader: Angela Birch Cox On Giving Your Best and Giving Back

ANGELA BIRCH COX, ESQ. Donor Relations Manager, Leadership Giving United Way Houston, Texas Angela Birch Cox, Esq. is currently pursuing her passion to help others as Relationship Manager, Donor Relations at the United Way of Greater Houston, but also has had a distinguished legal career.  Spending 18 years at The Coca-Cola Company, Angela served in various capacities, including Assistant General Counsel, Coca-Cola North America.  In that role, she managed the legal affairs of the Innovation, Minute Maid, Odwalla and Canada business units and served on the Diversity Advisory Council for Coca-Cola North America.  As Group Counsel, Technical and Supply Chain, she was responsible for the legal affairs of the Company’s global Supply Chain and Innovation groups and for the Company’s global Patents practice.  She also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of The Minute Maid Company, responsible for the global legal affairs of the 2+ billion dollar division, and as chair of the company’s most successful United Way Campaign, raising over $450,000 for United Way of Greater Houston.


rior to joining The Coca-Cola Company, Ms. Cox served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Gilbert Merritt, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Nashville, Tennessee and as an associate attorney at the law firm of Thompson, Hine & Flory in Cleveland, Ohio.



Ms. Cox earned a Juris Doctor degree, cum laude from Case Western Reserve University and Bachelor’s degrees from Spelman College in Natural SciencAnnual 2012 Edition

es, magna  cum  laude  and from Georgia Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering.  She is also a graduate of the Kellogg Management Institute. Ms. Cox currently serves as Chair of the board of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, a legal diversity pipeline program.  She previously served on the board of directors of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, as Chairman of the board of directors of the American Frozen Food Institute, as Vice-Chair

A Lawyer’s Life and Work of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Foundation, as Treasurer of the board of directors of the Corporate Counsel Section of the Houston Bar Association, Treasurer of the board of directors of The Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Inc., Atlanta and on the Case Western Reserve Law School’s Canada-U.S. Law Institute, Visiting Committee and Alumnae Association Board of Governors. She was honored as the Outstanding Alumna in Law and Business by Spelman College in 2008 and received the Distinguished Recent Graduate Award from the Case Western Reserve University Law School Alumni Association in 1997.

BLACK PRE-LAW: What was your experience with the law school application process like? Did you have assistance from a pre-law advisor, attorney mentor, or did you navigate the process alone?

Ms. Cox resides in Houston, Texas. She has one son, Michael, a recent graduate of Morehouse College.

BLACK PRE-LAW: How did you select the law schools that you chose to apply to?

Angela Birch Cox: I wanted to go to law school as long as I can remember. I think it stemmed from my childhood wish to be just like my dad. By my junior year of high school, however, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  The world was so big and there were so many options.  So I decided to major in chemical engineering in undergrad.  That way, I could take advantage of scholarship dollars and keep my options open (law school, med school, MBA, work as an engineer). BLACK PRE-LAW: You have earned both a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences from Spelman College and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology both tough majors from competitive schools.  What did you do while still an undergraduate to prepare to be a competitive law school candidate and law student? Angela Birch Cox: I did not do anything in addition to my schoolwork and extracurricular/leadership activities while I was in college.  Fortunately, I had plenty of opportunities as a science major to hone my critical thinking skills and had developed my writing skills through high school AP coursework and college liberal arts classes.  Once I decided to go to law school (after I had been working about a year and a half ), I bought one of those thick books full of LSAT questions and started practicing for the test.

Angela Birch Cox: I applied to the two law schools in Cleveland, Ohio -- Case I wanted Western Reserve and Cleveland State because that’s where we decided to to go to law settle. I was accepted at both and school as long offered full scholarships. BLACK PRE-LAW: Why did you choose the law school that you ultimately attended? Angela Birch Cox: I chose Case Western Reserve University because it had the better reputation.

as I can remember. I think it stemmed from my childhood wish to be just like my dad.

What do you think you gained from your legal education that holds the most value to you? Angela Birch Cox: The ability to consider an issue from multiple points of view and the value of attention to detail. BLACK PRE-LAW: What is your best law school memory?  Angela Birch Cox: I have so many that it is hard to pick one.  They include laughing upon recognizing that  no one cared about the new words that had crept into my vocabulary (e.g. tort, mens rea) but me, getting my first set of grades and realizing that “I really can do this,” winning the Client Counseling competition with my best friend and having all of my family at my graduation. Annual 2012 Edition


BLACK PRE-LAW: Why did you decide to go to law school?

Angela Birch Cox: My law school application process was very atypical. I navigated the process alone.  I was engaged and my fiance was just finishing grad school, so we were not sure where we’d end up.  We did not decide until after the application deadline, so both of my applications were late.


A Lawyer’s Life and Work the big firms. In my first year at the firm, however, I was frustrated.  I was doing lots of research and writing and not having any client contact.  I then remembered that in my first job out of college (working for a major corporation), I worked with lawyers on commercial issues that impacted how the company did business.  I decided that that’s what I wanted.  I left the firm, did a clerkship and then joined The CocaCola Company where I spent almost my entire career.

BLACK PRE-LAW: What is your worst law school memory? Angela Birch Cox: Deciding to skip Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s last game against the Cleveland Cavaliers to study for my Bankruptcy exam.  I did not ace it, so I should have gone! BLACK PRE-LAW: What do you wish that you had known about law school that no one told you? Angela Birch Cox: That the purpose of law school is to teach you to think and communicate in a certain way.  Once you learn it -- it is easy.


BLACK PRE-LAW: What is your current position and exactly what do you do?

Angela Birch Cox: A few years ago I decided to change course -- to committed. make my work helping others rather than helping othBLACK PRE-LAW: What is Networking and developing ers make money. I look at it your personal best adas  trading the career for  a other soft skills are important, vice to students or gradvocation.  So, I am currently uates interested in purbut do not replace putting in the a Donor Relations Manager, suing law school?  What Leadership Giving, for Unitshould they do before long hours and doing the hard ed Way of Greater Houston.  making the decision to In this capacity I help comapply and attend? work. There are no panies raise money for United Angela Birch Cox: Be commitshortcuts. Way, manage programs for leaderted.  Networking and developing ship givers and manage volunteers.  other soft skills are important, but do not replace putting in the long hours and doing the hard work. There are no shortcuts. Before deciding to apply/attend, make sure you know what you are signing up for, how much it costs and how you will pay for it.  A law degree is a LONG term investment.  Often the payoff is not immediate.  In fact, it often takes 10 years or more.  Promise yourself that if you can’t see a path by which you will grow to love it -- you won’t do it. Make sure you do it for you -- not to please someone else or because someone else said you would be good at it.  ALWAYS, ALWAYS look for the “entertainment value.”  Put another way, LAUGH! BLACK PRE-LAW: What legal work had you envisioned doing prior to law school, and how has your legal career either followed or deviated from your original vision?



Angela Birch Cox: Before graduating from college, the only lawyers I knew about worked in the courtroom. In law school, it was all about clerkships and Annual 2012 Edition

BLACK PRE-LAW: What in your career thus far are you most proud of? Angela Birch Cox: I am proudest of the time that I spent advising The Minute Maid Company (part of The Coca-Cola Company). In addition to  providing creative, practical and actionable legal advice, I developed a deep knowledge and love for the business and strong relationships built on trust with the legal team and the leadership team. BLACK PRE-LAW: Currently, you serve as the Chair of the board of directors for the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO).  Can you tell us more about CLEO, and how you became involved with this organization and was chosen to chair its board?  What is your vision for taking the organization to the next level while serving in this leadership capacity? Angela Birch Cox: CLEO’s governing body is referred to as the Council.  For over 40 years, CLEO has endeav-

A Lawyer’s Life and Work ored to increase the number of students from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds who become lawyers by providing programs  that help college and law students and recent law school graduates successfully navigate the process from law school admission and matriculation to bar examination.  

I, like most of us, have experienced and witnessed racial and gender discrimination - both overt and covert.  More than anything else, however, my passion and commitment to diversity are products of my fundamental desire for fairness and equity.  Interestingly enough, it is this same desire that drives my passion for lawyering.

I first became involved with CLEO and the CLEO Council through Lonnie Johnson, a fellow Council BLACK PRE-LAW: Based on the mistakes that you’ve made or that you’ve seen others member.  He knew of my passion for dimake, what advice would you give versity and the work I had done with to aspiring Black law students Specifically, Coca-Cola in that area and got about succeeding in the law me involved.  I was appointed many people believe school application process, Vice-Chair by our then Chair, during the law school exBud Blakey.  I became Chair that leadership is synonymous perience, and in their cawhen Bud became ill.  with power and its exercise and reers? The Council’s vision for Angela Birch Cox: Don’t abuse. I find, however, that the truest, CLEO is to build on the underestimate the time legacy started by Bud by most effective leaders are those who it takes to prepare and to numerous means, inget things done.  Always cluding  reaching furview leadership as service and who aim to finish with time to ther into the educational spare. are not afraid to expose their pipeline, using technology Honor your commitments. and other tools to improve vulnerabilities to those that and expand the reach of  our Don’t be afraid to say you don’t they lead. programs and  positioning CLEO know,  to ask questions or ask for for  financial and programmatic stahelp. bility.  CLEO also envisions maintaining its current status as the pre-eminent pipeline program Keep everything in perspective -- there is life threatening and then there is everything else. promoting diversity in the legal profession. Be sure to look for the entertainment value in everyBLACK PRE-LAW: Why are you so personally in- thing. vested in seeing greater minority representation in legal education and in the legal profes- BLACK PRE-LAW: You have a solid, proven resion?  What personal experiences did you have cord of outstanding accomplishment and leadthat have driven you to have a sincere passion ership.  What are the principles that you abide and commitment to the cause of diversity? by that are “the secrets” behind your success that you would like to share with aspiring Black Angela Birch Cox: I recognize that none of us jourlawyers? ney alone.  I understand that I am not completely Angela Birch Cox: There are so many cliches, but I find that there is one misconception about leadership that is prevalent.  Specifically, many people believe that leadership is synonymous with power and its exercise and abuse.  I find, however, that the truest, most effective leaders are those who view leadership as service and who are not afraid to expose their vulnerabilities to those that they lead. Annual 2012 Edition


responsible for my success -- rather it is due in significant part to the headstart I received by standing on the shoulders of our forefathers. I believe that those shoulders should grow taller and taller with every generation until there are no longer any downtrodden, disenfranchised and disadvantaged among us and we all compete on individual merit in a world of equal opportunity. 



Finding the


in You!

Angela at The Price Is Right

By Angela L. Dixon, Esq., MBA Have you ever wondered how some people get the things they desire and others do not? You might ask yourself, “What is it that they are doing that I am not?” “What is the secret?” and “Do they have something that I do not have?” Well, from my standpoint, there is a winner in us all. You just have to find it within you. People tell me all the time that I am the luckiest person that they know. They say, whenever I set my mind on something, they have no doubt that I am going to get it. I don’t know about being the luckiest, but I certainly believe that when preparation, patience, and persistence are involved, eventually, blessings will follow.




often win a lot of things. Prizes have ranged from money, trips, gift cards, concert tickets, electronics, and even a car. I do not think I won these things by chance. I believe that I prepared myself to win. I was patient until my time came to win; and I took action and was persistent to make my idea of winning a reality. Just this year, I was on The Price is Right and I made it on stage and won a car, a trip to Paris, a trip to Amsterdam, a diamond necklace, a ring and

Wheel of Fortune

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some weight equipment. A few years ago, I was on the Wheel of Fortunate and won cash and a trip to Paris. Here again, most people wanted to say I just have good luck. However, what they don’t know is what I did to prepare to be selected for those shows. For the Wheel of Fortune, I ordered a book entitled Winning on the Wheel because I knew that there had to be a method to how contestants were


For those of you who are interested in law school, you will find that it can be a long and tedious process. However, you must prepare and do the work to determine which school is best for you. This requires preparation because you have to be realistic based on your grades and scores what schools are likely to accept you. Therefore, you have to do the best you can on your law school admissions test as well as with grades from undergraduate and graduate school. Perhaps you have been out of school for a while. If so, your focus can be on what you have accomplished in your career, leadership roles and your community involvement. As you prepare for this journey, there will be times when you will need to be patient. Sometimes we want things right when we want them. We want them in our own time but our time may not be the right time. I wanted to go to law school right after undergraduate school. It did not happen for me then, so I decided to start my career in writing and public relations and also

obtained a graduate degree. I wondered why all my plans did not work out at that time. Years later, I realized that was not the right time for me. I had another path that I needed to follow which ultimately brought me full circle when I did attend law school. The skills I learned as a writer and editor helped me pay my way through law school. I decided to embrace the path I was led down and made great accomplishments in my field. I always knew I would go to law school but I had to be patient and knew that when the time came, I would be ready. This leads me to persistence. I always kept the ultimate goal of going to law school and being a lawyer in mind. I also had family members and friends remind me that I was supposed to be a lawyer. I had decided I would be a lawyer at 15 and always knew that it would become a reality. It helped to have the encouragement as well. While waiting, I would learn about what lawyers did on my own time. I would ask questions and read about the field. Once I decided I was going to leave the career I had grown to love, I took a preparation course to better equip myself for the admissions test. I had to drive to another city for the course everyday after work, but I knew that I had to do whatever was required in order to be accepted to the school of my choice. I went to law school fairs and forums, called and talked to admissions counselors, researched schools in each of the tiers, and just armed myself with a wealth of information. I ultimately was accepted by a number of schools and decided to attend the University of Iowa. All of the preparation, patience and persistence paid off because I graduated, passed the bar, and now I am a practicing attorney in Texas. I say all that to let you know that no matter what you strive to do - whether it’s go to law school, or have another career, you can use these principles to help you succeed. We all have the ability to be a winner in all aspects of our lives. Winning in our careers, relationships, finances, spirituality, health, etc. is all within reach. Believe it, prepare for it, have patience and persistence for it and you will receive it. Most importantly, if you want to win, you’ve got to put in the work! Angela L. Dixon, Esq., MBA is an attorney, professor, writer and winner currently residing near Houston, Texas.

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selected. I studied the book and did other research online to make sure I matched the type of contestant the producers were looking for. I watched the show of course and played the game as often as I could to become familiar with the puzzle categories and topics. When the opportunity came for an audition, I was ready right down to the introduction I had prepared in advance because I envisioned myself making it to the final interviews. For The Price is Right, I taped the show and watched it daily. I memorized prices of cars and trips because that is what I wanted to win. Even prior to going to the show, I put it in the universe that I was going to win a car. Ask any of my close friends how many times I said that up until the day I left for Los Angeles. I didn’t just show up and expect to be selected. I did research and got tips from others who had been on the show. I also had a shirt made in the colors of The Price is Right symbol so that I would stand out and entice the producers to ask me about it. Now, you may say, that is a lot of effort, but most things in life require you to put in work. I believe my efforts utilized to win on game shows and other contests can be used to apply to winning in anything that you desire to.


Law School Admission

IRAC: A Persuasive Approach for Your Compelling Law School Application Essay By Alison Velez Lane, Esq. INTRODUCTION As you prepare your law school application, you can strengthen your legal reasoning and writing skills. This article offers perspectives and pointers for writing a clear and compelling law school personal statement. I recommend that pre-law students practice IRAC, a method used by law students, attorneys and judges to identify issues, analyze facts and make decisions.

IRAC: A Workable Tool During your three years as a law student and decades ahead as a licensed attorney, you will use an analytical scheme known as IRAC.  IRAC is comprised of four (4) components: “I” is for ISSUE, “R” is for RULE, “A” is for ANALYSIS and “C” is for CONCLUSION. You will use IRAC to write course exams,    law review comments, court pleadings, appellate briefs, memoranda of law and judicial opinions.

ISSUE The first step for legal thinkers is ISSUE IDENTIFICATION. The question before a law school admissions committee is “Does this applicant’s academic background, community service and personal vision for law practice match with the standards and missions of this law school?”  I have read too many  “I am a poor black child from the ghetto” essays which failed to focus on intellectual curiosity, scholastic achievements or career goals. State your case for the law school admissions committee to decide “YES” based on your personal statement and other required documentation.

RULE Rules direct all legal parties, pleadings and proceedings.  In preparing your compelling law school personal statement, I encourage you to research and respond directly to the mission, vision and values (MVV) of your chosen law school.  Visit the law school’s website, blogs and social media to learn about the school’s “points of particular pride.”  Draw a connection between the MVV of the school and your personal MVV.




Lawyers and judges apply pertinent legal decisions and legal principles to the facts and evidence presented in legal proceedings and documents. Apply the stated admissions criteria of your chosen law school to your educational background, community service and lawyer vision. 

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Present your scholastic achievements and personal powers in the most favorable light. Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have done your homework about your chosen law school’s MVV. Detail logically your strengths as well as your struggles.  Describe succinctly how your gifts, talents, abilities and experiences have equipped you for vigorous study.   Distinguish yourself from other applicants by presenting your unique profile that empowers you to do well as a law student and practicing attorney.

CONCLUSION As a law school applicant, your aim is to convince the law school admissions committee that you will excel brilliantly as a student, alumnus and member of the bar.  Use themes, terminology and tone that command the attention of the law school admissions committee.    Persuade your readers that your achievements and aspirations will create “points of pride” for the law school and YOU. Alison Velez Lane, Esq., is a solo law practitioner and political campaign consultant. She is a co-chair of the National Bar Association Election Protection Task Force. Alison served as the Black Law Students Association Representative on the University of Pennsylvania Law School Admissions Committee.

Law School Admission

The LSAT: This Ain’t Your Momma’s Test By Akil Bello For 22 years I’ve been involved in test preparation, and for a large number of those years I’ve taught LSAT students, trained LSAT teachers, and written LSAT materials. In all that time, one of the most important things I’ve learned has been that the LSAT is unlike any other test and requires focused, structured and adaptable preparation that is different from what most of us have done in our lives. It asks us to reason in ways we typically don’t, it asks us to pay attention to details with a level of clarity and specificity that we typically don’t, it uses words we typically don’t in ways we typically won’t, and asks us to do all of this under significant pressure (both real caused by the clock and invented caused by our perception of the importance of this one day).

Unlike many of the tests we’ve taken in the past, the LSAT requires more than just knowledge acquisition. In fact there is no googlable fact tested on the LSAT, there are no LSAT textbooks (only practice books and strategy guides), there is no knowledge bank that contains the information you need to do well on the LSAT. The LSAT is a test of reasoning, thinking, and language usage. Think about it this way, the LSAT tests how well Michael Jordan can use his athletic ability not in basketball — the sport he dedicated

his life to for 30+ years — but instead to baseball, the sport he only sporadically engaged in, or maybe even in volleyball, a sport he’s probably not tried since middle school. The LSAT asks you to apply your intellectual ability to situations and concepts that you’ve likely not been exposed to and certainly not been exposed to in the way you are on the LSAT. This is one of the things that makes the LSAT so deceptively challenging; it feels familiar (we’ve all done reading comprehension) and looks familiar (we’ve all engaged in arguments and debates and seen logic statements in 7th grade math), but isn’t quite familiar. This false familiarity is often what gets us in trouble, because it leads us to believe that preparation will require less time and money than it actually does. Let me tell you that preparing for the LSAT requires a lot of time and possibly a lot of money. It will require more time than you spent on the SAT or ACT. It will require more time than you typically spend for a final exam in college. The LSAT is the final exam for your entire K - 16 educational experience. Prepare accordingly. Annual 2012 Edition



n my 22 years in the test prep industry, I’ve learned, and tried to teach others, that doing well on the LSAT requires not that we find our inner Michael Jordan (the epitome of perfection in a singular field, arguably the best pro basketball player ever, but a mediocre semi-pro baseball player and general manager) but more importantly our inner Deion Sanders (a rare professional athlete in both baseball and football and an exemplar of broad application of underlying skill).


Law School Admission how much help might you need to get your score to the next level?

So, how do you get started preparing for the LSAT? Now that we know what we are dealing with, the good news is that the LSAT can be prepared for. It can be prepared for effectively and scores can be increased significantly. The catch is that it takes time and effort, hard work and analysis. It might even take money, and it certainly takes resilience. Michael Jordan said it best “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” Here is a quick pre-LSAT training camp plan: 1. Review question types and instructions online or offline Go to information sessions and free workshops with test prep companies to find out what they know about the test that you don’t. You can also just go to a book store and check out the LSAT prep section, read a few pages on the same topic from each book to see which is best for you. 2. Take a practice test Before you begin preparing for the LSAT you need some understanding of what your starting score is. The only real way to determine this is with an actual timed LSAT test. Get a real LSAC prep test from their site ( and take it under timed conditions. 3. Assess how you did Once you have a score you can assess how you did relative to how you might want to do to gain admission to a school, and also relative to national averages. For example, a 156 is an above average score, however, it’s well below the average of admitted students at Georgetown Law School. How long might you need to prep and

Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.



Stan Smith Annual 2012 Edition

4. Consider getting help After you have a baseline score, have visited a few prep companies’ info sessions, and maybe even had a free consultation with a tutor, you can better gauge how to prepare for the test. We’ve all hired experts and coaches to train us to do things in our lives, from piano coaches to driving instructors to basketball coaches. A test prep coach is the same. You want to take advantage of the greater experience and knowledge of someone whose job it is to help others improve their performance. You can get advice from books just like you can learn to play piano from a book, but you have to consider in what format you learn best. If you have taught yourself to play basketball from a book or video then perhaps you can do the same with the LSAT. If you’ve tried to teach yourself from books and failed, now is probably not the time to try again. 5. Plan ahead Once you have a sense of your practice plan you should target taking the official LSAT one administration earlier than you need to. This means you should be scheduling at least 6 months in advance of your first test date. If you need to have an LSAT score by November 1, you should target taking the June LSAT. That way if you need to retake the test you have the October administration as a back-up plan. Therefore, your preparation should begin prior to the June LSAT rather than prior to the October LSAT. Making the most of your prep! Once you know what the LSAT is and have put an effective plan in place the only thing left is to put that plan into action. Putting a prep plan into action is when many students’ LSAT preparation falls apart. There are many pitfalls that you can fall into even when you have the most effective preparation plan and the best possible tutor. The key to making the most of your preparation is not only learning the rules of the game but learning to apply them under the conditions of the test itself. It’s one thing to know the rules of basketball, it’s a completely different thing to make the winning shot in the last second of the game with defenders all around you. To ensure you become as effective as possible on game day you have to ensure that your practice is highly effective. To do that remember a few key things:

Law School Admission strategies that improve speed hurt your accuracy and vice versa. When you prep, focus on one, then the other, then combining the two.

2. Start by building accuracy There are two different elements of prep for most people: accuracy and speed. You’ve got to focus on them independently and develop strategies to improve each. Most people can get every question on the LSAT right if they had a week to work on it. The challenge is learning to do it with a high level of accuracy in the time you have. As you prepare, remember to look at accuracy and speed independently. Often the

It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it’s what you put into the practice. Eric Lindros

4. Be analytical, adaptable , and accepting No company or tutor can provide you with a clear learning algorithm that will tell you how many hours to study, how many weeks to study, or how many points you’ll improve. You’ve got to be ready to adjust your plans. (Should you switch from the June test to the October test? Should you study in the morning because you learned you can focus more?) You’ve got to be ready to accept advice. (Should you only work on three games rather than four because that increases your accuracy significantly?) And you’ve got to be ready to look at yourself and identify why you got a question wrong. (Is your vocabulary not quite as good as you thought? Go ahead and define “peruse” then look it up to see if you’re right.) The more analytical, adaptable and accepting you are, the easier it is to improve your score. With this solid prep advice, you should be able to set yourself up for getting a great score and getting into your school of choice! Akil Bello is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bell Curves, LLC, the nation’s largest minority owned test prep company. In his 20+ years of experience in the test prep industry, Akil has helped launch two companies, developed pre­ paration programs for more than ten different high stakes tests, trained hundreds of instructors, and helped thousands of students achieve success. He is passionate about helping students achieve access to the best colleges, law schools, business schools, and graduate programs in the country.

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1. Be willing to change Test prep often involves non-intuitive strategies and requires you to break some bad habits you’ve developed. You’ll have to be willing to admit that the test is right. Based on the parameters it gives and the rules of the test, the answers to the questions are always right and the way it arrived at those answers is highly logical within those rules. Many students who struggle to improve their LSAT scores struggle to accept that just because the test doesn’t reason as you are used to reasoning does not mean its incorrect or tricking you. You have to learn to play the game by the rules that LSAC has established. Don’t try to make the test fit your logic. Learn LSAT logic and accept that it’s right. To continue our basketball theme, you have to understand that the rules of college basketball, NBA ball, and Olympic ball are all different and unless you accept the rules of whichever game you’re playing, it will be difficult to excel and really difficult to have fun (since you’ll spend all your time arguing with the refs).

3. Dedicate the time Effective practice requires significant time to learn strategies, practice, review what you got wrong, revise strategies, practice some more, then evaluate your learning by taking a test. All of this requires time, time that can’t be shortedcutted and the greater your needed improvement, the more time it will require. Make sure you dedicate enough time to effectively practice and to improve your score.


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the strength of our team is built on diversity Finnegan has a strong commitment to developing diversity in our workplace and in the eld of intellectual property law. Through support of women’s, minority, and GLBT bar associations; minority recruiting fairs; a diversity scholarship for law students; and other sponsorship programs, the rm demonstrates its commitment to recruiting, retaining, and providing professional growth opportunities for all of its lawyers. For more information please contact keith.earley@




Annual 2012 Edition


One of the world’s most globally focused law schools is also one of the most diverse Diversity of curriculum, interests and backgrounds – that’s what sets the Pacific McGeorge experience, and our 13,000 alumni, apart from the rest. Our commitment to producing lawyers ready to hit the ground running is equaled by our passion for developing engaged community leaders who make a global difference here, there – everywhere. Explore the possibilities!

• Scholarship Opportunities

• Specialized Concentrations and Certificate Programs

• Academic Success Coaching

• 40+ Diverse-Interest Student Organizations, with Minority Students Comprising 33% of the 2012 Entering Class

• Emphasis on Legal Writing in Global Lawyering Skills Program

U.S. News & World Report 2012 “Top Law School #101 out of 195 in the Nation” “Best-Ranked Legal Writing Program in CA (#13)” “International Law Program (#17) tied with UCLA and Northwestern” “One of the Most Diverse Law Schools”

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Annual 2012 Edition


3200 Fifth Avenue | Sacramento, CA 95817 | 916.739.7105 | 45

Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana



An Interview with Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe, Law Student at the Ghana School of Law (Accra, Ghana)



Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe is a final-year student at the Ghana School of Law, the only professional school in Ghana which trains law graduates to become lawyers. Prior to studying at the law school, she earned her LL.B. from the University of Ghana Faculty of Law. She graciously took time out of her demanding schedule to share her first-hand knowledge and experiences as a law student in Ghana. Annual 2012 Edition

Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: The admission requires one to have at least a first degree qualification with second class lower. Also one needs references from three referees listed on the form and a copy of the undergraduate transcript and certificate. The first step is a letter informing the applicant of the date set for the entrance exam. It is usually a few weeks notice. The exam is made up of two compulsory essay topics to be answered in an hour and thirty minutes. After a couple of weeks the school will publish the list of those who qualified for the interview and also send letters to same. Days and times are scheduled for the interview usually in alphabetical order of sir names. Some weeks after the interview the selected few will be contacted and given their admission letter. Acceptance is by way of paying for the tuition and registering as a student with the school. BLACK PRE-LAW: Is it a very competitive process? Is it difficult to get into law school in Ghana? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: It is a very competitive process especially because the number of people who apply can be as high as a thousand and about the same number will be invited to write the entrance examination out of which a little above two

The Ghana School of Law

hundred will be shortlisted for interview. To qualify for the interview therefore one must distinguish him or herself from the lot. This takes a lot of clarity, logic and analytical skill to be exhibited in the entrance examination. Further to this, one must face a panel of five or more lecturers of the faculty of law directing questions from all angles covering just about any topic. One needs composure and courage to avoid intimidation or anxiety which is uncharacteristic of an up and coming lawyer. Questions demands one to be abreast with current affairs as well as the field of study for the undergraduate degree. Finally, around a hundred more applicants will be admitted out of the lot. This makes the admission process quite difficult. BLACK PRE-LAW: In the United States, in order to become a lawyer, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in any subject first and this generally takes four years. Then, you attend law school for three years. After that, you have earned a law degree, but must take a state bar examination in order to become a member of the bar in that specific state. Can you explain the process in Ghana? In Ghana, you must earn an LL.B. in Law or a Bachelor of Law degree, and that gives one a first degree in law. Can you further explain what is then required in the educational process to become a lawyer?

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Graduation from the law faculty only gives one a law degree which is the LL.B. This qualifies one to [attend] the law school to undergo a two-year study. One must undergo a two-year professional course at the Ghana Law School before qualifying to be called to the bar. Upon successful completion of the law school, one is called to the bar. The two-year study at the law school is equivalent to the bar exam taken by some countries like the US. BLACK PRE-LAW: In working to earn your LL.B. degree, what courses are you required to take in order to graduate? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: There are various courses for the first and second year of the law faculty one is required to take in order to graduate to the Law School. The first-year courses are: Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Law of Torts, International Law, Land Law and Property, and Law of Contract. The second-year courses include both compulsory and elective courses. One must however take six courses in all. The compulsory ones are Jurisprudence, Law of Equity and Trust, and Succession. Others are Natural Resources, Commercial Law, Environmental Law, Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Trade Law, Administrative Law and Intellectual Property Law.

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BLACK PRE-LAW: What process did you have to go through in order to be admitted to the Ghana School of Law? What is required by the School of Law in the admissions process?


Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana

The Ghana School of Law’s Law Week Celebrations: Beach Party

BLACK PRE-LAW: In your opinion, how do most Ghanaian law students and lawyers feel about British colonialism and reconciling British law with traditional Ghanaian law? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Most Ghanaian law students are unhappy about the British colonialism and would rather not have anything doing with its legal system. The British way of dressing to court which includes wearing a gown, bib and the wig which has been adapted into the Ghanaian legal system is a total put off. Reconciling British law with Ghanaian law is not entirely welcomed. They would prefer that some changes be made so as to blend with traditional Ghanaian law since they believe that of Britain was made to suit their culture and should not be copied blindly. BLACK PRE-LAW: What is the average tuition to attend law school? How much are books and study materials every year? How do most students pay for their legal education?



Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: The cost of tuition is at about three thousand eight hundred Ghana cedis which at the current exchange rate is equivalent to just about a thousand nine hundred dollars. Books and materials are not at a fixed price as prices change every now and then. However, on the whole, one spends quite a lot on books and in scanning copies in the library especially

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since the copies are not enough to go round and also the books often get mutilated. Some of the books are not readily available and must be ordered from the UK and the US. There are no scholarship schemes available to help students in paying their fees and therefore mostly parents pay the fees for their wards, and for those in the working class, they pay for their fees themselves. It is indeed difficult for an average undergraduate to access the legal education due to the number of people interested in the course, there being few schools available and the high cost of tuition. BLACK PRE-LAW: What is the average class size for your law courses? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: There is an average class size of a hundred in a class. BLACK PRE-LAW: Where are most Ghanaian law professors educated? What are the qualifications to become a law professor at the School of Law? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Most of the law professors and lecturers were educated in Ghana but did their master’s, doctorate and Ph.D. in other countries, mostly Europe. One must at least have a Ph.D. qualification in order to lecture at the law faculty. BLACK PRE-LAW: What is a typical day like as a law student? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: On a typical day class start around 8:00

a.m. with each course lasting for two hours. There is usually a break around 12:30 p.m. for about an hour after which class continues to about 6:30 p.m. BLACK PRE-LAW: How much reading (how many book chapters or cases) are you required to do a day? How much time does it typically take? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: A number of references are made during each lecture and several cases cited to support them. A student is expected to read all the references or at least as many as possible, and brief the cases’ cites as well before the next class of the same course. Averagely there could be about thirty or more cases a day to be read. It therefore takes a lot of time to read the materials as well as the cases for which reason most students do not finish with them. BLACK PRE-LAW: What are the demographics for your classes? Are there more male or female students? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Basically, the ratio of males to females in the class is equal with the youth forming a larger number than the elderly. That is, there are students between the ages of 25 and 35 years, as well as those between the ages of 45 and 60 years. BLACK PRE-LAW: Are most of the students Ghanaian, or are there many students from around the world who also attend the law school and take classes with you?

The Ghana School of Law’s Law Week Celebrations: Beach Party

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Almost every student, if not all, are Ghanaians with little or no student

Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana is in fact difficult and stressful but rewarding and fun once you pass your examinations and move on to the next level. Hence though difficult getting through school, it is worth it.

from any [other] African state. We however have students with parents partly from Ghana and another African country, mostly Nigeria. BLACK PRE-LAW: How are the classes taught? Are there lectures? Is class participation encouraged or required? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: The mode of teaching is by lecturing the student. Students are allowed to ask questions during lectures and are also encouraged to participate in discussions or disagreements that may arise. Also, students are made to answer and discuss questions during tutorials with the lecturers to ensure they understood the lectures in the class. The students are thus given questions to answer prior to tutorials so they are made to research and read around it to ensure effective participation. BLACK PRE-LAW: What is being a law student like? Is it difficult to be a law student? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Being a law student comes with some prestige and honor but demands a lot of work and time. One has a busy schedule during the week day and the weekends as well. You usually have a backlog of cases to read and brief and therefore you have little time to socialize. You spend your time mostly with your fellow law students discussing what is thought and have no time to spend with family and friends outside your class. You spend long hours in the library and have little sleep. It

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Due to the demand of the course there is a lot of competition through the student with each student striving hard to outshine the other. Though competitive students are there for each other ever ready to explain any area of difficulty to another or share materials available with friends. Also, students form discussion groups where they share their knowledge and impact of each other. BLACK PRE-LAW: How are students evaluated and graded? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Students are graded per each course. Below forty percent in a course during the LL.B. is a failure while fifty and below at the Law School is failure. The percentage for each grade is provided for in the School manual for which reason students are aware of the grading system and consider it fair. Students are however not ranked. Some very few students graduate with first class honours, and I must say it is very rare. BLACK PRE-LAW: What work opportunities are available to

Law Week Celebration - Opening Ceremony

students to learn how to practice law while they are still in law school? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: There are opportunities for law students to practice law while in school by applying for internships with law firms and law departments of companies. This is done by the students themselves and they do not get any help from the school. However, when any help is needed in a form of recommendation the lecturers are ever willing to help. Most students are linked with practicing lawyers one way or the other - be it a parent, sibling, relative or friend and therefore it is quite easy getting a place for internship. BLACK PRE-LAW: How are students examined? Is there a final exam at the end of the term, or exams throughout the course? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: The examination is taken at the end of the year. There is no continuous assessment or class test. However, we have several quizzes during the term depending on the course and the lecturer but are not graded with them. It is usually to test the student’s understanding of the course so far and to make the necessary corrections before the final examination is due. BLACK PRE-LAW: What are the academic requirements needed to graduate from law school?

Law Week Celebration - Dinner and Dance

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: One is required to take all the courses and pass them all in order to graduate from the law school. There are six courses for each year with only one

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Law Week Celebration - Beach Party

BLACK PRE-LAW: How is the camaraderie between students? Are students supportive of one another or is there a lot of competition?


Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana being an elective. One will have to rewrite the examination if he or she fails a single paper. However, a failure in two or more papers is an automatic repetition of that particular year. Not all the courses are academic. There is a second-year course “Advocacy and Ethics” which has a practical part. The student is given a case to prepare an appeal or respond to the appeal of another student and argue it before a judge for a grade to be added to the written examination of that course. BLACK PRE-LAW: What is graduation from law school like? What is the ceremony like? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: The graduation from the law school is the same as the call to the bar. The ceremony is organized by the General Legal Council made up of the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and some other lawyers in the country. It is usually done on a Friday with each student being given invitations for just about three people. Students come in dressed in black suit and white shirts under their gown and in wig. The Chief Justice calls each student to the bar during the ceremony. It is a rather short ceremony which is followed by a reception. There is then the “thanks giving” service the following Saturday. BLACK PRE-LAW: What do most law school graduates do after they graduate from law school? What type of work do they do? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: After graduation from the law school, there



The call to the bar and law school graduation. Law students wearing the British gown, bib and wig.

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is a mandatory six months pupilage which is to understudy and practice with a lawyer of not less than seven years at the bar. After this, one can practice fully on his or her own as a lawyer or even open his or her own law firm. Usually most students are taken as associates in law firms with others being employed to work as in-house lawyers of companies and other corporate organizations. BLACK PRE-LAW: Do most lawyers stay in Ghana, or go to other common law countries to practice? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Due to the differences in the legal system, most of these students stay in Ghana to practice. Hardly do they travel to work in other common law countries or take the bar in other countries. It is rather those who have been called to the bar in other countries especially the UK who come home to Ghana to take the bar here as well so that they can practice in both countries. BLACK PRE-LAW: What are common reasons why students pursue law degrees in Ghana? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Lawyers are given great respect in Ghana and also one of the few lucrative professions you can find. They are perceived as very intelligent and knowledgeable. Their knowledge of the law seems to give them some power and authority which is the envy of many. These are the main reasons why for people who study law in Ghana.

Law Week Celebration - Opening Ceremony

that path who gave you advice about succeeding in law school and as a lawyer? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Prior to taking the law course I knew people who had been there and become lawyers, but no contact with them to advise me [on] what to expect or do. I learnt it all by myself when I got into the school. BLACK PRE-LAW: Do you have a mentor or mentors who are assisting you and will assist you once you become a member of the bar? Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: I do have mentors in the persons of my lecturers and other practicing lawyers to assist me once I am called to the bar. BLACK PRE-LAW: Is there a strong “community” of lawyers to assist one another in succeeding in the profession?

However, they are also perceived as liars and cheats who twist the truth to go in their favour and defend criminals to get their undeserving freedom back. Hence the myth that the corpse of lawyers are turned upside down due to their shameful life style.

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: The Ghana Bar Association is an association which brings together all lawyers in Ghana to help better the profession. It does this by organizing programs for all lawyers with the most prominent one being the bar conference. It is a week-long program which has a lot of activities both legal and fun to help lawyers fraternize and build better relationship[s].

BLACK PRE-LAW: Prior to attending law school, did you know others who had previously taken

BLACK PRE-LAW: What is the common perception in Ghana of American lawyers generally?

Becoming a Lawyer in Ghana America interested in attending law school or practicing law in Ghana? What are the differences that you are aware of between studying and practicing law in America and Ghana?

Law Week Celebration - Debate

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Ame­ rican lawyers are generally perceived as being from a completely different legal system, therefore not knowledgeable in the Ghanaian legal system and cannot make any significant input in legal issues in Ghana. BLACK PRE-LAW: What advice would you give to someone in

Wilhelmina Asabea Bampoe: Practicing law in Ghana is quite stressful and different from what is done in America. Things are not as organized as might be in America, and therefore not every information or document will be readily available and in the best condition upon request. Some cases last for several years. The country could however do with some more lawyers and new ideas and therefore they are welcome to practice in Ghana. With the schooling, the Ghanaian style of lecturing is also equally dif-

Law Week Celebration - Dinner Dance

ferent from what is done in America. It involves a lot more writing and not all materials are available in the library. Students buy their own books, and tuition for foreign students is different from that of the citizens. Once again, they are however welcomed to study law in Ghana since it is interesting and will broaden your knowledge. It also toughens you up for the challenges in the profession to enable you to sail through smoothly.

Becoming a Lawyer in the United States and Ghana Comparison Chart United States


Undergraduate Degree

4-Year Bachelor’s degree in any subject (B.A. or B.S. or equivalent)

Bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B.)

Application Process

• Academic transcript • 2-3 Recommendations • Law School Admission Test - 3 hours and 30 minutes - Five (5) 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions and a 35-minute unscored writing sample • Multiple-choice questions test on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning • Personal Statement and/or Diversity Statement

• Academic transcript • 3 References • Entrance Exam - 1 hour and 30 minutes - Tests on 2 compulsory essay topics • No Personal Statement

Interview Process for Acceptance

No interviews generally.

Based on performance on the entrance exam, some will be selected for an interview. The interview is an in-person panel interview with lecturers of the faculty of law. The interview involves questioning covering current affairs and the applicant’s undergraduate field of study. If you pass the interview, you will be accepted.

Years in Law School

3 years of law school to earn a Juris Doctor/Doctorate of Jurisprudence

Bar Exam Required to Practice

Must take and pass a bar exam in the states where you want No bar exam. Successfully completing the to practice (with few exceptions). No bar exam required in two-year course automatically qualifies you to the state of Wisconsin. be “called to the bar.”

Practical Training

No required practical experience.

2-year professional course

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Mandatory six-month pupilage with a lawyer with at least seven years experience.


Black Law Students’ Advice


Members of the 2012-2013 Executive Board of the National Black Law Students Association were asked to give their best advice on what Black pre-law students should do to prepare for a successful law school experience. Here is what they wanted to share. Aisha N. Smith

Board Position: Midwest Regional Chair, National Black Law Students Association Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor of Science in Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University (Chicago, Illinois)


Stay in your lane! While the law school experience is characterized by competition amongst peers, you are more likely to perform the best and be happiest when you compete with yourself alone. Be patient with yourself and find the study habits and systems that work best for you, then stick to them. Also, remember to continue doing the things that kept you grounded before law school, such as practice your faith, exercise, interact with your family, etc.  You’ll be busier, but the time spent on these activities will help you sustain the motivation and energy necessary to do your best!  Finally, remember to enjoy the experience.  Join your local Black Law Students Association chapter.  Find extracurricular activities that challenge and excite you.  Take time to make friends and build substantial relationships.  A strong network is an important aspect of a successful legal career, and some of the best lessons are learned outside of the classroom.

Charlyn M. Stanberry

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, Florida International University College of Law (University Park, Florida) Board Position: Southern Regional Chair, National Black Law Students Association Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing, University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida) Graduate Degree/University: Master of Public Administration, University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida)


As a third-year Black law student, I know that part of my duty is to assist the next generation of Black law students. In order to prepare for law school, Black college and graduate students should consider the following five steps (same advice I give my mentees). (1) Find a mentor. Consider finding a mentor in a local bar association, a family friend who happens to be an attorney, or a person who is currently in law school.  The key to success is finding answers for questions you may have. Mentors can answer your questions about law school and assist you with the law school application process. (2) Create a support system. You will go through so many changes before, during, and after law school such that a good support system could make or break your success.  If it wasn’t for my parents, brother, family, and friends I know that I would not have been able to survive law school. (3) Research organizations that assist students interested in attending law school. For the past three years, I have actively been involved with the Council on Legal Educa-

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Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, University of Wisconsin Law School (Madison, Wisconsin)


Law Students tion Opportunity (CLEO) program which helped with my acceptance into FIU College of Law. (4) Utilize your resources. Consider taking a LSAT prep course and attending workshops that assist with the application process. While in law school, you will need to utilize your resources for class outlines, supplements, and books. (5) Keep an open mind. Keep an open mind in regards to the schools you would like to apply for, the type of law you’re interested in, and how you envision yourself as a future attorney.  During this process, you will be exposed to so much that you will learn that change is good.

Dave Dambreville

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)


Network. Be sure to reach out to current law students and practicing attorneys, ask them about their experiences, and learn from their successes and mistakes. You should also obtain insider information on everything from scholarships and finances to pro bono opportunities and employment; this way you will learn a great deal and will feel more confident going into your 1L year. Think long and hard about exactly why it is you want to study law and what you want to do once you graduate. You will find that having a clear set of goals and a sense of purpose will help you make better academic, career-related, and personal choices throughout your law school experience. Finally, take a break or go on vacation before you head off to law school. Once school starts, you will probably find yourself working harder than you ever have in your life. The good news is that if you remain focused and consistent, it will all pay off.

Board Position: National Vice Chair, National Black Law Students Association

David Stephen

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (Detroit, Michigan)

Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York (New York, New York)

Board Position: National Director of Public Relations, National Black Law Students Association


As an aspiring law student, you should be very mindful of your personal brand. By personal brand, I mean the impressions that you leave on others, your reputation, and how you interact with people. These factors will collectively build up an image of you over time in the minds of others. Be very protective of your image. A strong will to succeed will serve as the driving force behind your academic success. A deep understanding of why you are pursuing a legal career will act as your motivation when the going gets rough. And remaining keenly aware of how your actions are being perceived will help create a positive perception of your capabilities.

Diepiriye Anga

Year/Law School: Second-Year Law Student, University of Pennsylvania Law School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Board Position: National Director of International Relations, National Black Law Students Association



Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with minors in Peace & Justice Studies and Africana Studies, Villanova University (Villanova, Pennsylvania)

Annual 2012 Edition

Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia)


Build a network of mentors who know about the study and practice of law. They have already been where you are and can help you avoid mistakes that they have made; no need to re-create the wheel. Make sure you know and understand what is expected of you in law school and if it fits into your life’s goals. When someone asks you why you want to go to law school, you should have a definitive answer. Law school will challenge you in ways you did not think possible and if you don’t know why you are there, it can scare you and some people can’t handle it. That doesn’t mean you should know exactly what type of law you want to specialize in (most of us don’t when we start); it means you should know why you care about the study of the law and how you hope it will impact you, so you can positively impact others.

Law Students Janea J. Raines

Ashley Christopher

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, Loyola University Chicago School of Law (Chicago, Illinois)

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, The University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law (Washington, DC)

Board Position: National Director of Membership, National Black Law Students Association


If you think you would like to enter the work force for a few years, travel abroad, or just give your brain a rest after college, it is alright! Law school isn’t going anywhere and when you enter law school, you will encounter a new set of challenges. Thus, you must be of sound mind, body, and soul. It is crucial to realize that law school is an unparalleled experience whether you are going straight to law school from undergrad or if you take a little time off prior to matriculation. Law school, especially as a minority student, is a challenging endeavor; however, it will peak your intellectual curiosity, expose you to an exciting new world, and challenge you to look beyond yourself to combat pressing issues in today’s society. Of course, with all of this, comes much sacrifice and hardships, but it is certainly a privilege and honor that will be worth it in the end.

Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice, Howard University (Washington, DC)


As an African-American student preparing for law school, it is of the utmost importance to remain steadfast.  What you will experience in law school will be nothing like your undergraduate familiarity.    It will require an open mind and an unbiased thought process.  To most, it awakens an unfamiliar inner strength and perseverance.    As an African-American student, you must learn the importance of adapting to an unfamiliar environment, remaining disciplined, and staying focused.   

Cassye M. Cole

Year/Law School: Second-Year Law Student, Brooklyn Law School (New York, New York) Board Position: National Director of Education & Career Development

Gianni Corleone

Year/Law School: Second-Year Law Student, Rutgers Camden School of Law (Camden, New Jersey) Board Position: Job Fair Specialist, National Black Law Students Association Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, New Jerse)


One important part of preparing for law school is learning and understanding how to spot key details in the readings. Not only is issue spotting a crucial part to practice in law but also knowing how to use certain details can affect how you will answer a question.

Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Florida State University (Tallahassee, Florida) Undergraduate Degree/University: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (New York, New York)


If you are interested in attending law school, my first piece of advice is to join a pre-law program. The programs are free and extremely helpful for students who are seeking guidance. NBLSA has a fantastic pre-law division which provides a host of workshops and mentoring opportunities for students seeking to advance to law school. Second, set a Google alert to maximize the information you receive about minority law scholarships and pre-law programs across the country. These alerts will pick up on information that could have been easily overlooked. Third, make sure to explore all of your options. You should apply to a range of law schools, including at least one Ivy League school.

Annual 2012 Edition


Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in French Studies and Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, Illinois)

Board Position: National Convention Coordinator, National Black Law Students Association


Law Students Finally, when you get to law school, seek out upper-class mentors. We are happy to help you in any way possible. Do not be afraid to ask for help! Best of luck!

Deyaska Spencer

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, North Carolina Central University School of Law (Durham, North Carolina) Board Position: National Director of the International Negotiations Competition, National Black Law Students Association Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina) (transferred from Spelman College)


and analyze complex legal opinions, followed by the ability to discuss the major issues with your professor and classmates. To best prepare for this experience, I would recommend taking courses that are going to help develop the core intellectual skills needed to succeed in law school. Courses that involve analytical thinking and writing, critical reading, research development, comprehension of politics and understanding public policy are some of the skills that will be most challenged over and over and over again in law school. If you take the opportunity to master them before getting to law school, you will set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. As well as winning the mental game of law school, one must be able to [endure] physical strain. Law school is a rigorous monster that requires diligence, organization, preparation and consistent methods of studying to navigate through the tough workload. Be sure to hone in on your time management skills so that you will be able to balance your school, work and personal responsibilities. At the end of the day, believe in yourself and stay encouraged!

The law school experience is an experience that you cannot borrow from anyone else. It is a unique experience that impacts each of us separately and distinctly. However, as law students there is a superseding commonality that connects each of us. We were chosen out of and among many others. We were selected to enter into an esteemed profession. It is this esteemed profession that is charged with serving and protecting the rights of each American citizen. Our charge is great, and therefore our plight to become legal professionals is even greater. As such, I charge each of you to bury your heels in the sand, ears to the wind and hearts to your study. You were not selected to enter your law class by “chance”; you were selected by “choice.”

Ebony Foster

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) Board Position: National Director of Alumni Affairs, National Black Law Students Association Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology, Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Graduate Degree/University: Master of Science in Forensic Science, Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)




The minute you walk into the doors of law school, it is going to be expected of you to be able to read, synthesize

Annual 2012 Edition

Chukwudi Egbuonu

Year/Law School: Third-Year Law Student, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas) Board Position: Rocky Mountain Regional Chair, National Black Law Students Association Undergraduate Degree/University: Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Tarleton State University (Stephenville, Texas)


Preparing for law school is something that causes an individual to go through a whirlwind of emotions. Being an aspiring law student, you should realize that many have been in your shoes and there is no need to re-create the wheel. That is why I believe finding a mentor in law school is vital to a new law student’s transition. Finding a mentor and building that relationship will provide you with guidance in many aspects of law school. It is still imperative to realize that what worked for one may not work for you. That does not mean that mentor/mentee relationship should cease. Being a new law student, you must take that advice from your mentor and tailor it to you. Only you know your study habits and personal attributes. To that end, do not be afraid to ask for help from students that have been in your place. Remember, we have all been that overwhelmed first-year law student and we all want to HELP!!”




To De-Stress the Stressed-Out

As an aspiring lawyer, you are going to experience a great deal of stress. In striving to do and be your best academically, you will often endure many sleepless nights and early mornings preparing papers, completing reading assignments, and trying to juggle too much. Right now, before you will endure the rigors of law school, you need to become familiar with ways to help you relax and manage stress.

Peppermint Leaves

Did you know that peppermint has the power to help reduce stress? It does. It cools, refreshes, uplifts and restores. It helps to calm your nerves and makes you more mentally alert. Here are some ways you can receive the benefits of the power of peppermint to relax when you are stressed out.

Peppermint Tea – Drink a cup of warm peppermint tea after your meals.

Peppermint products – Purchase products with peppermint that were created specifically to decrease stress. Check out Origin’s Sensory Therapy® Peace of Mind® On-the-spot relief.

Peppermint Essential Oil – Inhale the peppermint’s soothing aroma, or receive the benefit’s through skin absorption. Simply place a few drops in your bath, or apply it on your skin once diluted in a carrier oil such as vegetable, sesame, almond, jojoba, or sunflower.

Peppermint Candy – Enjoy some peppermint candy. Popular options would include either the red and white striped peppermint candy, York® Chocolate Covered Peppermint Pattie, or a box of Junior Mints. Annual 2012 Edition


Peppermint Candles – Burn a peppermint candle. Aromatherapy really works for stress relief. Look for an essential oil soy wax candle.


The National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) was established in 1968 to articulate and promote the educational, professional, political, and social needs and goals of the black law student. Our goal is to facilitate meaningful and political change that addresses the needs and concerns of the black community. We created the Pre-Law Division of NBLSA to meet the needs of prospective law students.

THE NBLSA PRE-LAW DIVISION The NBLSA Pre-Law Division offers: Access to a network of over 5,000 law students | Mentorship opportunities with local law students Significant member discounts (LSAT Prep Courses, Clothing, etc.) | Scholarship Opportunities Insightful Convention panels, workshops, and programming

“I’m a big believer in the fact that life is about preparation, preparation, preparation.” Johnnie Cochran

Let NBLSA help prepare you to gain admission to law school, to achieve academic excellence in your studies, and to successfully launch into the legal profession! Visit us at

What makes Weil different?

2012 Winner of the MCCA’s Sager Award for Commitment to Diversity Annual Firmwide Diversity Training Affinity Group-Sponsored Professional Conferences Career Workshops for Minority Law Students Diversity Fellowships Our Heritage. Our Future: Diversity & Inclusion at Weil

Weil, Gotshal & Manges llp

Q&A with Demetris Cheatham

Question & Answer with National Bar Association Executive Director

Demetris Cheatham Demetris Cheatham, Esq., MBA is the Executive Director of the National Bar Association (NBA). She previously served as Deputy Executive Director and Special Assistant to the Executive Director. Prior to joining the staff of the Association, Cheatham served the organization as a committee member of the Commercial Law Section, Managing Editor of the Corporate Law Section magazine, Communications Director and Special Assistant to the NBA President. Among many accomplishments within the NBA, Cheatham was instrumental in partnering with IMPACT to launch the NBA’s annual Nation’s Best Advocates 40 Under 40 event.


rior to joining the NBA, Cheatham was an associate within the Legal Financial Consulting Practice of Huron Consulting Group. In this capacity, she assisted clients with internal investigations and forensic accounting engagements. She also assisted clients with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accounting and reporting, and performed damage quantification and data analysis.



Before becoming an associate at Huron, Cheatham was a Technology Analyst at the investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs in New York City. There she was responsible for accessing the technology needs and vulnerabilities of the company in the event of a domestic or global disaster. She was also responsible for assisting each domestic and international department in the Annual 2012 Edition

company with creating their business continuity plans for compliance with internal guidelines and regulations enacted by the financial industry. Cheatham has gained international experience by working and participating in an international business program in Montreal and Ottawa, Canada. She also completed a study abroad program in the cities of Mumbai, Bangalore, Agra and New Delhi, India. Cheatham co-wrote “Internal Investigations: Assembling the Investigative Team,” which was featured in the National Bar Association’s Commercial Law Section’s newsletter (December 2008). She was also publisher and managing editor for the Corporate Law Section’s inaugural InHouse View magazine.

Q&A with Demetris Cheatham

Cheatham currently resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Cornelius and their daughter, Zahra Joy. BLACK PRE-LAW: WHAT IS THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION AND HOW DOES THE ORGANIZATION SUPPORT BLACK PRE-LAW STUDENTS? Demetris Cheatham: The National Bar Association is the nation’s oldest and largest network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges. Founded in 1925, we represent nearly 44,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students and have over 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. As a part of our core mission, we work everyday to advocate for diversity in the legal field and provide new opportunities for aspiring attorneys to excel in the classroom and eventually in the courtroom. BLACK PRE-LAW: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT, CONSIDERING THE CURRENT CLIMATE IN AMERICA, THAT MORE BLACK STUDENTS PREPARE FOR CAREERS IN LAW? Demetris Cheatham: Today, the United States needs advocates more than ever. Our national landscape is larger and more diverse with people representing every possible demographic, location and viewpoint. Whether at the corporate level, on Capitol Hill or in a state courtroom this country is always in need of talented and competent legal representation. It’s critical that the unique perspective of AfricanAmerican attorneys be heard at all levels to ensure that the needs of our community are acknowledged and our views con-

The National Bar Association is the nation’s oldest and largest network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges. sidered in wide-reaching initiatives and issues. BLACK PRE-LAW: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO AN ASPIRING PRE-LAW STUDENT? Demetris Cheatham: At the National Bar, we are constantly working with young pre-law and law students. Whenever I meet a student, I give them the same advice: Decide why you love the law. Without a true love for the law, a student’s path to becoming an attorney can seem long and unfocused. In the moments when student life gets tough, it will be that growing love and respect of the law, its value to society and their desire to shape their world through law that will push them through. BLACK PRE-LAW: HOW CAN PRE-LAW STUDENTS GET INVOLVED IN THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION? Demetris Cheatham: Throughout the year, the National Bar hosts a variety of events including our Annual Convention and Wiley A. Branton Symposium that offer ideal opportunities for young students to interact with some of the most accomplished Black attorneys in America. One of the elements that makes the NBA special, is the unique chances we provide for aspiring lawyers to develop valuable relationships with leading attorneys who can serve as mentors throughout their young careers. We encourage the next generation of Black attorneys to begin participating in the NBA now, as we hope to be an asset throughout their careers.

We encourage the next generation of Black attorneys to begin participating in the NBA now Annual 2012 Edition


Cheatham received her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with honors from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She also received her Juris Doctorate and Master’s in Business Administration (JD/MBA) from the University of Maryland School of Law and its Robert H. Smith School of Business.


Tamecia Glover Harris’ Commencement Speech

Tamecia Glover Harris Elected Class Commencement Speaker University of Houston Law Center Class of 2012 TAMECIA’S CLASS COMMENCEMENT SPEECH Good Afternoon. First, I would like to say it is my extreme pleasure to be speaking on behalf of the UH Law Center class of 2012. As a class full of lawyers, we know they are all capable of speaking for themselves, so I would like to say “thank you” to my classmates for allowing me this opportunity. Well guys, we made it! We officially crossed the finish line! If you are like me, you remember sitting in Krost auditorium for orientation a few years ago, listening to Prof. Tabor scare us about the honor code. You probably remember thinking: “This is going to be a long three years.” “Can I do it?” “Will I make it?” Look at us now! At orientation, we all met people who now will be our lifelong friends and colleagues.



Although I have a host of family, friends, and classmates who have supported me, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this time to recognize two people, whose support and encouragement has brought me to this day. The first is my biggest cheerleader, my husband Keith Harris. Thank you for sacrificing so much and lending me, sometimes unwillingly, to the law center. I am eternally grateful for everything you have done over these past three years. And clearly he is a glutton for punishment because even after witnessing my experiences the last three years, he will be attending UH Law in the fall. Apparently I made it look like fun.

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The second person I would like to recognize is my grandmother who I lost last week. She played an important role in making me the person that I am today. My grandmother had an incredible amount of strength and fortitude and she taught me to face challenges with a smile, and a cute outfit. She always encouraged me to strive for my goals and told me that with hard work I could accomplish whatever I wanted in life. I stand here today as a testament to her encouragement. I know she’s looking down smiling today. Thank you Grandma! I did it! Like me, many of you have family, friends, and significant others who have been your support system. To them, we would like to say “thank you” for lending your shoulder to cry on when we wanted to quit law school every month in the first year. And for being understanding when we were too busy to return phone calls. And for lending your other shoulder to cry on this year as we looked for jobs realizing that we are now stepping into the real world. We did it and it was largely because of you cheering us on along the way. Thank you for being here today, but more importantly, during our time in law school. Classmates, please stand with me. Let’s give a round of applause for thanks to our family and friends who supported us.

Lastly, we have to thank the law school faculty and professors. In our little law school bubble, you were our parents or slightly older sisters and brothers. You took the time to mentor us and guide us through the haze. How many tears have you had to wipe off your desks? Yes, there is apparently a lot of crying in law school! You too are a large part of why we are here today. So we thank you as well. Classmates, we go off into this world, not knowing what challenges we will face, but knowing that our education and experiences at UH Law Center have prepared us to tackle them with confidence. We are our generation’s next leaders, so wear your UH Law degree with pride and realize we have been prepared to achieve what others consider impossible. It is my honor, to stand here and say, “Congratulations UH Law, class of 2012!!” Thank you. Tamecia Glover Harris, J.D., MBA was chosen by her law school classmates to give the commencement speech. While attending the University of Houston Law Center, Tamecia was extremely active. She served as President of the Student Bar Association (the second Black to hold this post), President of the Black Law Students Association, volunteered with the admissions office, and served as a student regent for the University of Houston Board of Regents. To her knowledge, she is the first African American ever selected to be the law school’s class commencement speaker.

Interview with Regina Bynote Jones

Living and Lawyering Abroad: A Special Interview with International Attorney Regina Bynote Jones

Regina Bynote Jones, Esq. General Counsel - Research, Engineering, Manufacturing and Sustaining (REMS), Schlumberger Paris, France Regina Bynote Jones currently serves as General Counsel for the Research, Engineering, Manufacturing and Sustaining (REMS) segment of Schlumberger, the largest oilfield services company in the world. In her role, she oversees the legal function supporting the internal REMS operations, worldwide. Prior to this role, Attorney Jones served in various legal roles in the United States and Paris, France (where she is currently based).

Ms. Jones is currently a member of the International Law Committee of the American Bar Associa-

Regina Bynote Jones Family Photo

tion. Previously, she served on the Board of Directors for the African American Lawyers section of the Texas State Bar. Ms. Jones received her Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business from Sam Houston State University and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law, both Texas universities. She is married to her best friend, Kevin Jones and has two wonderful sons, Kevin and Dylan. Regina and her family are proud Texans and Americans. They currently reside in Paris, France. BLACK PRE-LAW: Tell us about your company - Schlumberger? What do they do? How did you become employed with them? Regina Bynote Jones: Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) is the world’s leading oilfield services company supplying technology,

information solutions and integrated project management that optimizes reservoir performance for customers working in the oil and gas industry. Schlumberger is the largest oilfield services company in the world. Schlumberger employs over 115,000 people of more than 140 nationalities, working in approximately 85 countries. I began working with Schlumberger in 2005 as the Legal Counsel with responsibility for supporting the land and offshore operations in the United States geographical market. I was based in Houston, Texas. BLACK PRE-LAW: How did you secure your current position as an international lawyer practicing law in Paris, France? How did this amazing opportunity come about? Regina Bynote Jones: I will begin by saying that I never expected or planned to work outside of the

Annual 2012 Edition



efore joining Schlumberger, Ms. Jones served as Legal and Regulatory Counsel with Dynegy Inc. where she held various Legal and Management roles with responsibility for electronic discovery, regulatory and internal investigations. She was also appointed to serve as Chief of Staff to the Chairman and CEO, Chuck Watson for two years. During her career, Regina has also held Legal and Technology roles with Shell and El Paso Energy.


Interview with Regina Bynote Jones a “job”. Schlumberger is a part of our lives and has opened up opportunities for my family that we never imagined.

The Jones Family at the Lourve museum, the most visited art museum in the world



United States. Working with Schlumberger has opened up amazing opportunities for both me and my family. Schlumberger is an International company. Every day, I was working with people of all cultures and countries and our business operations expand far beyond the United States. I began to visibly see that in order to learn and truly understand the business operations and workings of the company, I needed to have a much broader perspective. After two years with the company, I communicated to my Management in the Legal department that I would like to be considered for opportunities outside of the United States. My husband and I discussed the potential of living abroad and we were both willing to embark upon an international experience and the opportunities (and challenges) that come along with it. A year later, my Manager came to me and inquired about our family’s willingness to move to Paris, France. Although working in Paris seems like a great opportunity, there were many considerations for us. Some of which included, the language (French), the education system for our children, proximity to our extended family – and the concept of leaving the United States. Today, we have been in Paris for four years and it has been a wonderful experience for my family and my career. Schlumberger has indeed changed our lives and developed into much more than

Annual 2012 Edition

My husband and I discussed the potential of living abroad and we were both willing to embark upon an international experience and the opportunities (and challenges) that come along with it. BLACK PRE-LAW: What exactly do you do? Regina Bynote Jones: Currently, I serve as the General Counsel of our global Research, Engineering, Manufacturing and Sustaining (REMS) organization. In this role, I oversee the Legal and Compliance function for the business segment. A key component of my role is advising management in regard to legal issues and their impact on the business; ensuring that our operations are conducted in accordance with local laws in the jurisdictions where we operate and providing proactive counsel to enable and support our global REMS business strategy. Prior to this role,

The Jones Family with Sulley, a star of Monsters, Inc.

I also served as the Global Manager of our Client Contracts function and the head of Global Trade Compliance & Licensing. BLACK PRE-LAW: Were you already fluent in French prior to moving to France? If not, how has the adventure of acquiring this new language been? Regina Bynote Jones: No. Interestingly, we spoke no French prior to moving to France. It is an enlightening experience living in a country where you do not speak the language. I initially compared it to being illiterate. We could not read the language, write the language or speak the language. Hence, it was indeed a learning experience. I remember going to the grocery store and selecting products purely based on the pictures on the labels. We would try to talk to people and use hand signals and basic sounds. However, we learned that smiles, numbers and head-nods are universal communication tools. We relied heavily on and advance planning. Soon after arriving, we took French classes and incrementally improved our communication abilities. Our children attend an International American school (where they speak English) and business is conducted in English at Schlumberger. Hence, the transition to French was a gradual process. However, after four years, we are now comfortable with the French language and can communicate fairly well. It has truly been an adventure! BLACK PRE-LAW: What are some of the challenges you experienced in making the transition from Texas to France? Regina Bynote Jones: The greatest challenge was learning to embrace the fact that “This ain’t

Interview with Regina Bynote Jones

Texas”. When arriving in France, we brought our perceptions of the way things should work. We quickly learned that we were not going to change France to be more like Texas. Instead, we were going to have to transform to adapt to France. We had to understand the French culture, interact with the French in social settings, develop relationships with French friends – and embrace the rich culture of this wonderful country. Frankly speaking, nothing was the same. The language, the food, the transportation infrastructure, the social system, the currency – nothing was the same. It brought us even closer together as a family. We learned together. We made cultural and communication mistakes along the way. The language barriers were tough. I remember once at a restaurant, I was trying to tell the waiter that I had finished with my meal. The proper translation is “J’ai terminé”. Instead, I said “Je suis termine”. Our friends that were with us informed me that I had just told the waiter that “I was dead.” Oops. BLACK PRE-LAW: What are the rewards or “perks” for you and your family of living in Paris? Regina Bynote Jones: The primary reward of living abroad is the cultural experience. Our children have had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with people of all cultures. They have friends from Brazil, France, Egypt,

BLACK PRE-LAW: Have you had the opportunity to study and learn international and comparative law prior to and then while there? Regina Bynote Jones: The professional learning opportunities have been vast. I have learned about French law, the European Union, Asian and Middle Eastern jurisdictions. Because I have global responsibility, I have learned about the legal systems of many other countries. My days are typically structured such that I engage with Asia, India and the Middle East in the mornings. In the afternoons, I work with Latin America and the United States. My involvement in international legal issues has played a tremendous role in expanding my legal acumen and has positioned me to deliver even greater value to the company. I also sit on the International Law Committee of the American Bar Association. This helps me to stay engaged with American Legal counterparts and expand my international network and engagement.

Regina Bynote Jones with the world famous Eiffel Tower in the background

BLACK PRE-LAW: What advice do you have for aspiring lawyers interested in practicing law overseas? Courses, internships/ externships, etc.? Regina Bynote Jones: The most significant advice I can offer is to “be open to the idea” of living abroad and actively communicate your interests, when there are opportunities. Additionally, I highly recommend study-abroad programs. These programs are offered in association with US law schools and help to provide a great foundation for understanding international legal jurisdictions. In addition to companies like Schlumberger, government agencies and industry organizations offer international opportunities – the US Embassy, International Energy Association, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). There are also US companies which have offices in Paris – Google, Microsoft, Apple, Nestle, IBM, Disney and General Electric, to name a few. BLACK PRE-LAW: What are your future plans? Regina Bynote Jones: Hmmm. That’s a hard question. I am having a great time. I enjoy working with Schlumberger and have a great career. I am learning and contributing in many different aspects. For now, my future plans are to continue to perform at my highest ability and to deliver exceptional results. When you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I also live by the Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11 that reads, “For I know the plans that I have for you, saith the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” There is certainly more to come…

Annual 2012 Edition


Regina Bynote Jones with sons in Paris

United Arab Emirates, Italy, Korea, Russia, Sweden, Japan – and many other countries. They also speak French and English – and have a strong understanding and appreciation for other cultures. As a family, we have travelled throughout Europe and experienced many other countries and cultures.


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Law School Admission


Advice For “Non-Traditional” Admissions Candidates

When I expressed my intent to apply to law school, I was instantly told that the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against me.

By Amber Burton, J.D.

How can you make your application “sexy” and stand out? The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website became one of my favorites. I memorized all the admissions requirements for the law schools I wanted to attend. One key to applying to law school as a non-traditional student would be to explain what makes you unique to the average applicant and how that will be a benefit to the law school. The personal statement is essential to show off what sets you apart from all other candidates. Do not shy away from discussing the fact you are a single father, or an engineer aspiring to be a lawyer. Make sure to use the personal statement as if this was your opportunity to sit down and speak to the admissions committee.

Where in the world is your ideal law school? For me it was important that I go to a law school that was receptive to parents and working students. I researched schools that had day and evening programs which would provide flexibility. I also inquired with the admissions department if professors allowed children in class in case I had an emergency. The law school I chose was established with working students in mind. I attended school as a full-time student and had mainly daytime classes. However, it was good to know that I had options in case my situation changed and I had to switch to evening classes and work during the day. Guess what? Your GPA really does count! Halfway through college, I realized that the low grade I received in anthropology could actually stand in the way of my dream to be the next Johnnie Cochran. I had to act quickly. Obviously, I started making better grades. I also enrolled in law-related courses, because for purposes of a law school application, making a B in a Constitutional Law class is far more compelling than an A- in Art History. Most law schools will accept an addendum to your application that is separate from the personal statement. This was a tool I used because my grades during my freshman and sophomore year of undergrad were less than stellar. I had numerous life changes during those years such as getting married and starting a family. This initially impacted my academic life. My addendum demonstrated that even with the added

Amber and Family at Law School Commencement and Hooding Ceremony (Left to Right) Eugenia Burton (grandmother), Traejon Bogney (son), Johnny Alfred III (fiance), Amber Burton, Brenda Burton (mother), Donald Burton (father) and Braeden Bogney (son)

responsibilities of family, work and extracurricular activities, my grades improved drastically. How do you prepare for the LSAT if you cannot afford an expensive prep course? I dreaded the LSAT and had to take it twice. The first time I was not prepared because I could not afford to take one of the mainstream LSAT prep courses, nor did I have the time to stick to the strict schedule that those courses required. I made the mistake of thinking I could just wing it. When I received my score I was devastated because it did not meet any of the median LSAT scores for accepted students. I regrouped and the next time around I had to take an alternate route. I found a company that employed private tutors and allowed me to pay an hourly rate, as well as create a study schedule that coincided with my work schedule. My second LSAT score increased by ten points! During my journey to law school, I had to sometimes think outside the box to achieve my end goal. A “strong arm” approach meant that I had to highlight what made me a “non-traditional” candidate rather than try to adhere to what I thought a typical student looked like. Most importantly, I made sure I submitted an airtight application that would show the admissions committees why I deserved a spot in their next entering class, and I would be a valuable asset to their program.

Amber Burton, J.D. is a recent graduate of South Texas College of Law. She currently serves as the Judicial Coordinator for the Harris County Democratic Party. For more information about getting into law school and surviving law school as a student with a non-traditional life, please visit her blog at: www.strongarmlawschool.

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inorities do not get into law school because they do not perform well on the LSAT. Women are not as successful as their male counterparts in law school. It is very hard to have a family and pursue a legal career. If your grades are less than stellar, you will not be considered. And the list went on and on. Rather than internalize the possible negative outcome, I took a leap of faith and pursued my goal. I like to say that I “strong armed” my way into and through law school. I had to pursue alternative routes and methods to achieve my goal because of the different factors affecting my life. I am a minority, I am a mother and I did not have a 4.0 GPA and 180 on the LSAT. Applying these steps, I was able to gain admittance into law school and successfully complete my legal education.



for the Law School Journey

The journey to law school is an amazing road full of different components, requirements, and expectations. It may seem, at times, insurmountable and impossible to complete.


ut I assure you, this path is possible and admission to law school is obtainable, but only if you plan accordingly and do what it takes to be a strong candidate. Thus, the three areas of utmost importance are the following: 1) Preparation, 2) Professionalism, 3) Perseverance. Focusing on these three areas will assure you are a solid candidate and will give you the wisdom you need for the journey.




Many of us have heard the saying asserting “Failing to plan means you plan to fail.� This piece of wisdom is an important aspect of the law school admissions process. Preparation Annual 2012 Edition

is vital from the start of the law school journey to its completion. What type of preparation is needed? The type which ensures you are knowledgeable of the expectations of law school applicants, as well as the dedication and commitment needed to effectively prepare for admission to and graduation from law school. Preparation cannot begin with the submission of the law school application. The components comprising the application should be well thought out and strategically planned. From the letters of recommendation to the personal statement, the law school application has many moving parts and must be undertaken with care and due diligence.

The Law School Experience

Persevering through this process is the first step into the legal profession. If the process was easy, more people would complete it!

The law profession is a field of advocacy, client representation, networking, research & writing, and a high level of professionalism. The level of professionalism an individual possesses speaks volumes to their integrity, work ethic, and readiness to enter the law profession. Professionalism is not simply how you dress, but also encompasses how you interact with people, how you carry yourself, and how you present yourself to admissions representatives and legal professionals. One of the most visible components an individual has is their resume. Regarding the resume, applicants must highlight work experience and responsibilities that convey attention to detail and a substantive area of responsibility. This will illustrate the ability and willingness to work hard and an individual’s potential to add to the field of law upon graduating from law school.

Perseverance Perseverance is the ability to endure in the midst of adversity. The road to law school is not an easy one, this is an unquestionable point. But what ends up being the sorting mechanism for those who gain admittance to law school is the fact that the only people who can be admitted to law school are those who actually apply! This seems like a small point, but the application process itself is difficult, and many who begin the

process do not always follow-through to the end. Persevering through this process is the first step into the legal profession. If the process was easy, more people would complete it! Perseverance is a quality that is transferrable to any profession, but it is especially relevant in the law school journey due to the various moving parts of the law school admissions process and even the coursework law students undertake. In conclusion, I encourage all who are commencing or in the midst of the law school application process to be prepared, always exude professionalism, and know that only with perseverance can you achieve the reward. Everything has an impact on an individual’s career. The goal is to know what it takes to be successful and to move positively in the direction of this success. The practice of law cannot be taken lightly, thus the profession begins with the first step of the journey into the field.

Kendra Brown is the Chair of the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA). She attends The George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC where she is pursuing her Master of Laws degree. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Hampton University and a Master of Divinity from Howard University.

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Financial Issues

Law School: Still a

Good Investment

for African-Americans With the recent barrage of media articles lambasting legal education and asserting that a law degree may no longer be the good investment it once was, many prospective students who may have been considering the study of law may now be asking themselves if law school is a good investment.


he prospect of attending law school may be even more disquieting for African-Americans since, according to a recent Pew study, the typical black household has around $5,700 in assets whereas the typical white household has around $113,000. It is understandable that those with fewer assets may view law school as a risky investment. As only 4 percent of lawyers in the United States are black, while nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population is black, African-Americans are already underrepresented in the legal profession. The recent contraction in the number of applicants to law school is likely to yield even fewer black law students this year, which ultimately means that the number of African-American lawyers is at risk of shrinking to less than 4 percent of total lawyers. With this potential decline on the horizon, it is important for law schools to be mindful of diversity when awarding student financial aid, and it is equally important for prospective law students to understand the market for legal education.



Given the current economy, the uncertainty of the job market and the significant financial investment one must make to pay for law school, asking whether law school is a good investment is indeed prudent. It is true that tuition costs for attending law school have risen dramatically during the past two decades, which has substantially increased the debt load for law school graduates. According to the American Bar Association, in 2011 the average debt for law graduates at public law schools was more than $75,000 while the average debt for

Annual 2012 Edition

those graduating from private law schools hovered around $125,000. Some one-third of law school graduates will owe $120,000 at graduation, according to the Law School Survey of Student Engagement. For most of us, this level of debt is staggering. Add to the issue of debt the circumstance of economic downturn with its prodigious job loss, and the idea of attending law school seems even more perilous. According to Law School Transparency, only 55 percent of 2011 law school graduates were known to be employed in full-time, longterm jobs that required a law degree and/or bar passage, and only about 10 percent of them were employed at large law firms that pay new lawyers starting salaries in the sixfigure range. African-Americans who are considering law as a career should not ignore this data on law school tuition, student debt load and job placement. Because African-Americans as a group have less wealth than whites to finance law school, the cost of attending law school and the ability to repay that cost while earning a living should be a serious consideration for this group of prospective students. However, African-Americans should not be dissuaded from attending law school by published law school tuition rates. What prospective students should know is that many students with solid academic credentials or financial need actually do not pay full freight to attend law school. Many law schools award financial aid to students based on their LSAT score and undergraduate grade-point average. This type of aid is called merit-based aid, and black applicants

Financial Issues with solid academic credentials should seek it once they are admitted to a law school.

amount of funds students need to borrow to cover living expenses.

Some law schools also award need-based financial aid. This financial assistance is awarded to students whose financial profile indicates that they have few (if any) economic resources to draw on to finance law study. Need-based awards are especially appropriate when a student lacks a credit history or credit-worthy co-signer that would enable the student to obtain many of the private loans that are used to finance legal education. Accordingly, African-Americans with little or no economic resources of their own should seek out law schools that provide need-based aid rather than opt out of legal education altogether. Moreover, law schools that have shifted scholarship dollars away from need-based aid in order to fund “merit” scholarships to aid recruitment of highly credentialed students should understand that this practice has a negative impact on their ability to recruit students with financial need, a disproportionate number of whom are African-American.

With respect to the shrinking market for the services of lawyers, prospective law students should remember that post-law school job statistics do not tell the whole story. They do not account for the growing percentage of students who attend law school with the intent to apply their legal skills in business or government administration and who never intend to practice law in the traditional sense. Employment statistics also ignore entrepreneurs who start their own practices and serve individual clients whose legal needs otherwise might go unmet.

The other side of the cost-containment coin is to try not to live exclusively on loans during law school. Working the summer before law school and saving the money earned can afford students a nice nest egg for small expenses like food and books that will reduce the amount of money they need to borrow. Likewise, working the summer after the first and second year of law school can do the same thing for the last two years of attending law school. Of course, students should not work during the first year of law school because most law schools prohibit even parttime employment during this year due to the rigor of the academic program. But after the first year, students are permitted by ABA regulations to work part time (up to 20 hours per week), and doing so can significantly lower the

But the most important consideration for prospective law students is whether law school is worth the investment of time and money. Law school is a very challenging academic endeavor. Students who are not willing to approach law study as they would a full-time job that requires overtime work every week may not be good candidates for this investment. In law, perhaps more than any other profession, academic achievement determines career opportunities. So to determine whether law school is a good investment, each prospective student must determine for herself whether she will make the necessary sacrifices to position herself financially and academically for success. If the answer to the question is yes, law school will likely be a sound investment that pays dividends for years to come, not only for the individual student, but for the black community as well. I chose a law school that was willing to make a financial investment in me, and prospective law students should consider doing the same. As a black lawyer, I can honestly say that law school has been the best investment that I have ever made. Carla D. Pratt is associate dean for academic affairs and professor of law at Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law. Reprinted with permission from the “September 3, 2012 edition of the “PUBLICATION”© 2012 ALM media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact 877-257-3382 or or

Annual 2012 Edition


Because very few law schools give full scholarships, and do so only in extraordinary circumstances, black students attending law school must be cognizant of keeping debt levels low even if they receive financial assistance. Law school should be viewed as an investment in one’s self, and investing necessarily involves some measure of sacrifice. This means that their standard of living may have to be temporarily diminished through cost-containment measures such as shared housing and limitations on dining out and other entertainment expenses. If the student attends law school in an urban environment, using public transportation can save the expenses associated with maintaining a car. I am not asserting that law students must adopt a lifestyle of asceticism, but if they think of cost containment as an investment in their future rather than a form of self-deprivation, they will likely thank themselves when they graduate and start to repay their loans.

Because most African-Americans who have a legal problem cannot afford to hire a lawyer, they are among the most underserved group when it comes to legal services. If more African-Americans attending law school are mindful of keeping their debt load low, they would have the option of creating their own law practices that charge lower fees, thereby satisfying the unmet need for legal representation of individuals and small businesses in the black community.


Legal History

Macon Bolling Allen, Esq. The First African-American Male Lawyer in the United States (1845) • Macon Bolling Allen was the first recorded licensed African American lawyer in the United States of America. • Macon taught himself to read and write. • He was born free in the state of Indiana on August 4, 1816. • His birth name was A. Macon Bolling, but he later changed it to Macon Bolling Allen. • He was a “Mulatto” – the child of a union between a White and Black parent. During that time, Mulatto was considered a race. • His first job was as a school teacher. • He moved to Portland, Maine, which was a free state that outlawed slavery. • General Samuel Fessenden, a local White antislavery leader, allowed Macon to serve as his apprentice in a law firm that he established. • Attorney Fessenden requested that Allen be admitted to practice as a lawyer at the Portland District Court. At that time, the state of Maine would allow any person who had good moral character to become a lawyer and member of the state bar of Maine. However, Macon was not allowed to join the bar because he was not considered a U.S. citizen. At that time, Blacks were not yet considered as American “citizens.” • Because he could not become a member of the state bar due to his citizenship status, Macon applied to be admitted through taking an examination. He took the test and passed, and was then admitted.



• Macon became a citizen of Maine in 1844 and paid $20 to be granted his license to practice law. Annual 2012 Edition

• He could not earn a living practicing law. There were few Blacks able to hire him to provide legal services, and others were generally unwilling to hire a Black attorney. Therefore, he also worked as a businessman. • In 1845, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts. There, he took the Massachusetts bar examination and was admitted to practice on May 5, 1845. • In Boston, Macon met Hannah, a Mulatto housekeeper, and they married. • Macon and Hannah had five sons, John, Edward, Charles, Arthur, and Macon B. Allen Jr. The census indicates all of his sons were school teachers, but it is unclear what Arthur’s occupation was because of his age at the time census records were taken. • Macon became the first Black to hold a judicial position in the United States after passing an exam to become a justice of the peace for Middlesex County Massachusetts. • Macon opened the first Black law practice in the U.S. with fellow Black attorney Robert Morris Jr. • In 1873, he was appointed a judge in the Inferior Court of Charleston (Charleston, South Carolina). • In 1874, he was elected to judge probate for Charleston County. • Macon later worked as an attorney for the Land and Improvement Association in Washington, D.C., after the Reconstruction period. • Macon passed away on June 11, 1894 at the age of 78.

Get Involved


WHAT ARE IMPACT’S CORE PRINCIPLES? IMPACT’s three core principles are civic engagement, political involvement and economic empowerment. Civic engagement activities identify and enable IMPACT leaders to utilize resources to ensure the preservation and advancement of our communities. Through political involvement, IMPACT facilitates and supports the engagement of our peers in politics, policy development, and advocacy.  Focusing on economic empowerment provides unique opportunities for IMPACT leaders to accumulate and preserve wealth, while imparting the skills and experiences needed to enable others to do the same.   WHO IS A PART OF IMPACT? The IMPACT Team originally consisted of our five co-founders: Ryan M. Scott, Angela Rye, Adria Crutchfield, Joe D. Briggs, and Semhar Araia. Two founders continue to serve as directors of IMPACT. CAN ANYONE JOIN IMPACT? While IMPACT is not a membership organization, we welcome IMPACT supporters and friends to join our electronic mailing list. WHAT IS IMPACT’S CURRENT INITIATIVE? 

IMPACT was founded in 2006 by a group of emerging leaders. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, created to foster civic engagement, to increase knowledge in the political and legislative processes, and to enhance economic empowerment opportunities. Our target audience is young professionals ages 21 to 40. Our mission is to strategically link influential leaders with one another to help accomplish their goals through hosting a range of events catering to young professionals including forums, workshops, receptions, and galas. We partner with businesses, organizations, and high-powered leaders to host candidates’ forums, roundtable discussions, lecture series, workshops, and strategic networking events. Some of the events we have hosted in the past include forums at the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, panel discussions at the Democratic National Convention of 2008 and work with various organizations on Wall Street to help improve diversity.

We recently launched our #VoteReady campaign  on August 15, 2012. WHAT IS #VoteReady? #VoteReady  is a campaign that will provide individuals with answers to three critical questions: 1. Am I prepared to vote? 2. Am I registered to vote? 3. Where do I cast my vote? IMPACT’s goal is to prepare, engage, and educate youth as well as young professionals to ensure American citizens are equipped and prepared to go to the polls on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.   #VoteReady will also increase voter education and engagement among those who are disproportionately affected by recently enacted voter identification laws. To learn more about IMPACT, visit their website at

Annual 2012 Edition




Steptoe is a proud sponsor of the National Black Pre-Law Conference. Steptoe is committed to a workplace where diverse individuals work collaboratively bringing together varied perspectives shaped by differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, marital status, disability, and life histories. We embrace both diversity and inclusion as business and moral imperatives, and believe by doing so we foster a more welcoming, interesting, and productive workforce. BEIJING BRUSSELS

Diversit y STRENGTH IN




Annual 2012 Edition


African Americans and Legal History

About the Author, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. was born on February 25, 1928 in Trenton, New Jersey to A. Leon Higginbotham, Sr., a factory worker and Emma Lee Douglas, a domestic worker. He became a prominent author, lawyer, judge, professor, and civil rights advocate. He attended Purdue University and went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Antioch College, as well as a law degree with high honors from Yale Law School. Throughout his long and distinguished legal career, he held a variety of positions in private law practice, government, the judiciary and higher education. He was the longestserving Black federal court judge. He served as a Federal District Court Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was also a District Court Judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In the Matter of Color Race & The American Legal Process: The Colonial Period (1978)

Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process (1996)

Further, he was the first African American to serve on the Federal Trade Commission after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as Vice Chairman of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence or the Kerner Commission. Later, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Additionally, he served as a Public Service Professor of Jurisprudence at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In the area of civil rights, Higginbotham was a vocal advocate for affirmative action. He was selected by Nelson Mandela to act as an international mediator for South Africa’s first election where Blacks were allowed to vote in 1994. Moreover, during several voting rights cases that went before the Supreme Court, he served as counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus. Higginbotham authored numerous articles and two books on race and

the law. Among his many honors include the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as numerous honorary degrees. Judge Higginbotham passed away from a stroke in Boston, Massachusetts on December 14, 1998. He was survived by his second wife, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and four children, Stephen, Karen, Kenneth and Nia.

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As an future Black lawyer, it is extremely important that you have a good understanding of African Americans and the law in the United States of America. These two history books by the late A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. are must reads that you should add to your personal Black history library and law library. These books are not likely to be assigned in undergraduate or law school, but you should take the personal initiative to purchase and read them so you can have a solid understanding of the role of the law in impacting the status and experience of Black Americans since the beginnings of this nation.


The National Black Pre-Law Network Information. Resources. Support. JOIN US TODAY! FREE resources and an instant network with other future lawyers! w w a ck p rel aw n et work . com



Annual 2012 Edition

Our Stories. Our Perspectives. Our Legacy. Annual 2012 Edition


The Legal Scene

The Legal Scene Notable Pre-Law, Law Student & Lawyer Events Across the Nation

OBABL’s Power 100 Reception 2012

National Black Law Students Association 44th Annual Convention

Houston Lawyers Association Annual Awards and Scholarship Gala

Jewels of Change Documentary Inaugural Reception

February 2012, The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC

June 2012, Crowne Plaza Hotel Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas

July 2012, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana

National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division 40th Anniversary Celebration Annual Networking & Awards Breakfast

NBA and IMPACT’s Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40


July 2012, Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada


March 2012, Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, Arlington, VA/Washington, DC

Annual 2012 Edition

July 2012, Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Legal Scene


Wednesday, February 29, 2012 • The Ritz-Carlton • Washington, DC Power 100 honorees (Left to Right): Row 1: Everett Bellamy, Kim Keenan, Marc Morial, Linda Ammons, William Cook, Jr. Row 2: F. Michael Higginbotham, Kelli Newman, Jacqueline A. Berrien, Angela Rye, Penelope Andrews. Row 3: Lee Harris, Shaunicie Fielder, Kim K.W. Rucker, Camille Nelson, Cassandra Ogden, William Hassan Murphy. Row 4: Chibundu Nnake, Darrell Mottley, Billy Martin, Makau W. Mutua, Marcelyn Cox, E. Christopher Johnson. Row 5: Freddie Pitcher, John Daniels, Ben Johnson, Nicholas Austin. Row 6: Leonard M. Baynes. Photo Credit: William Hart

Yolanda Young, OBABL CEO & Publisher, Thanks The Power 100 Sponsors. Photo Credit: William Hart

Honorees and Guests Look On During The Power 100 Roll Call

Annual 2012 Edition


The Power 100 Commemorative Catalog


The Legal Scene


Wednesday, March 7, 2012 to Sunday, March 11, 2012 Renaissance Capital View Hotel Arlington, VA/Washington, DC

Kendra Brown, 2012-2013 Chair, with A.J. Cooper , Esq., NBLSA Founder

2011-2012 National Executive Board Members

NBLSA Members at White House Round Table Discussions

John Crump, Esq., Executive Director Emeritus and Daryl Parks, Esq., National Bar Association President at the Awards Gala and Hall of Fame Induction

Kendra Brown (2012-2013 Chair), Theresa Cropper , Esq. (Perkins Coie), Russlyn Ali , Esq. (U.S. Dept. of Education) and Chibundu Nnake (2011-2012 Chair)



2012-2013 National Executive Board Members Being Sworn In By Judge Ann Claire Williams

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The Legal Scene Saturday, June 9, 2012 Crowne Plaza Reliant Park Houston, Texas

Left to Right, Angela L. Dixon, Esq., Stephanie Mensah, Award Recipient Evangeline M. Mitchell, Esq., Kisten Rhodes, Ayomide Shittu, Sarah Odion-Esene, Jocelyn Henderson

Silent Auction

Black National Anthem Led by Attorney Te’iva Bell

Gala Attendees at Dinner

HLA President Antoy Bell, Esq. and Nicole Washington, J.D., Bar Scholarship Recipient

Pre-Gala Reception

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The Legal Scene


Saturday, July 7, 2012 The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, Louisiana

Family and Friends of the Late Jewel Lafontant Mankarious (Mr. and Mrs. Ben Smith, Mrs. Joyce Glapion, and Ellen Chube)

Creator and Producer Adia May, Atty. Renee Higgins-Higginbotham and Deidra Jackson

Adia May, Esq., MBA Speaking About Significance of Jewels of Change Movie

Laural Stratford Delivering Message on Behalf of Jewel’s Family

Producer Adia May and Marc Morial, President of National Urban League



Welcome Poster for PR Event During 2012 Essence Festival

Annual 2012 Edition

The Legal Scene


John Page, Esq., President, National Bar Association (2012-2013)

Pamela Meanes, Esq., NBA Vice President of Finance, Sharing With Members

Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President Obama and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Sharing Greetings from The White House

Members Networking

40th Anniversary Celebration Commemorative Gift Items

Annual 2012 Edition


Attorney DeMonica Gladney, Chair, Women Lawyers Division, Addressing Attendees


The Legal Scene


Sunday, July 15, 2012 Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, Nevada

IMPACT Presents the Third Annual Nation’s Best Advocates Gala and Reception in Las Vegas, Nevada

(Left to Right) IMPACT Director, David Johns, IMPACT Founder and Director Angela Rye, Esq., Gala Emcee Jeff Johnson, IMPACT Founder and Director Joe D. Briggs, Esq.

(Left to Right) Joe Briggs, Esq., Demetris Cheatham, Esq., Daryl Parks, Esq., “Advocate of the Year” Alisia Mary Adamson, Esq., Angela Rye, Esq., Kendra Davis Briggs, Esq., Chris Chestnutt, Esq., and David Johns

Honorees and Guests Network at the Third Annual Nation’s Best Advocates Gala and Reception

“Excellence in Innovation” Honoree Camille Townsend, Esq., “Excellence in Leadership” Honoree Latrice A.G. Byrdsong, Esq. and “Advocate of the Year” Honoree Alisia Mary Adamson, Esq.



The 2012 “Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40” Class

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The cost of higher education has been significantly reduced for me because of my scholarship, and that has reduced my stress. I want to work in the public sector doing something for the social good, and now I don’t have as much pressure to find a job just to pay back my loans.

Law School Detroit, Michigan

—Blake Edwards

Think Wayne Law. Think Detroit.

Wayne State University Law School in Detroit is home to the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights and two scholarships that honor him: the Keith Scholars Program and the Keith Legacy Scholars Program. These scholarships, valued at $25,000, are based on full-time enrollment and awarded to students who completed their undergraduate degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities or Hispanic Serving Institutions; or who graduated from Detroit public high schools or underperforming Michigan high schools.


Our application is free. Visit to learn more. Annual 2012 Edition Blake Edwards, Cass Technical High School, Johns Hopkins University, Wayne Law ’15, Keith Legacy Scholar


Law School Drake Law School has a longstanding commitment to diversity. Visit our website for information about admission and diversity scholarships.

A diverse community of leaders The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law




At Moritz, diversity is a way of life that is embedded into our culture and spirit. We offer a variety of full and partial scholarship opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. Recipients have included students of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientation, and professional backgrounds, as well as students who have worked extensively with diverse populations. We are proud that 23 percent of our faculty are women, 16 percent are people of color, and 25 percent of our students in the Class of 2015 are people of color. We invite you to learn more about our community!

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Deeper unDerstanDing. Better solutions. recognizing that experience and diversity are inextricably intertwined, baker botts is committed to fostering diversity in the firm and legal profession. we believe diversity is the thread that binds us together and brings valuable perspectives, knowledge and talents to the firm, thereby allowing us to be more creative and effective in the practice of law and service to our clients. the firm’s uncompromising commitment to diversity has led to important industry recognition. baker botts has been listed among Multicultural law’s top 100 law Firms for Diversity (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011) and has consistently ranked among the top 100 law Firms on Minority law journal’s annual Diversity scorecard (2008, 2009, 2010). in addition, we have received a perfect score of 100 on the human rights campaign Foundation’s corporate equality index (2009, 2010, 2011), which ranks organizations for policies, practices and benefits for glbt employees.

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BLACK PRE-LAW magazine - for law school aspirants serious about success! This edition includes the following features: * Living and Lawyer...