Much of the legal career of Lucy S. McGough, dean of Appalachian School of Law, has pivoted on her being in the right place at the right time with people who believed in her talents: her own choice to pursue a legal degree, for example, as well as her acceptance at Emory University School of Law.
Scott Sasser’s service in the U.S. Marine Corps became the key to finding a school that would prepare him for a career as a California attorney. Now a 3L, Sasser chose Pepperdine University School of Law because of the sense of community he found there, its nationally renowned dispute-resolution center and the full scholarship offered to veterans through government-assisted Yellow Ribbon financing.
Annette Clark, dean of the Seattle University School of Law, understands more than most the importance of a good fit in careers and law schools. Growing up in a “medical family,” she opted for a career in law only after her own experiences in medical school school convinced her that she didn’t have the aptitude to excel as a doctor.
As Fernanda Beraldi tells the story, it was her career as in-house counsel at aircraft-maker Embraer SA that led her to Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where she’s earning an LL.M. degree. Beraldi, who knew she wanted a master’s degree in U.S. law, had narrowed her search to Chicago and Michigan but was so impressed with the skills of MckInney Law alumni when she was negotiating a plane sale in Indianapolis that she decided to check out their school.
Finding the right fit is how Michael Tipton, a 3L at the University of Akron School of Law, describes his first years working at a nonprofit. “I really liked where I was – executive director of Project SPY, which provides emergency home repairs to families in need in Southwest Virginia,” Tipton said. “But I saw how attorneys could both protect us as needed and improve our effectiveness.”
It seems fitting that a lawyer who litigated for the future of civil rights in the U.S. should now be working to remedy civil rights injustices of the past. Margaret A. Burnham, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law, founded and directs the school’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, which engages students in investigating every racial killing in the Jim Crow South from 1930 through 1970. The program’s goal is to work with victims’ families and communities to bring these cases to a just close. “We want to draw current meaning from this legacy of racial violence, which often involved local officials and the police,” Burnham said.
Living outside the U.S. left Colby Jones and his wife, Melissa, with a unique appreciation for the challenges faced by immigrants. Now, even though they’re no longer abroad, the experience continues to wield an influence. Colby Jones plans to use the law degree he’s obtaining in a singular online-on campus degree program at William Mitchell College of Law to provide community legal training that empowers immigrants and refugees.
The career-turning points for María Pabón López, the dean of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, came in the form of a person and a job. The person was a teachers-union lawyer whom López encountered as a science teacher, an attorney who took the time to explain how the law affects people in their everyday lives. The job was as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Division, for the District of Puerto Rico, where she prosecuted illegal immigrants.
The ability to think creatively, work cooperatively and use theater as a tool for social change is what drew Hannah Adams, a 3L at Northeastern University School of Law, into the world of stage production and lighting design as an undergraduate. After five years helping with fair housing enforcement in New Orleans, the ability to think creatively, work cooperatively and use law as a tool for social change is what convinced her to pursue a legal career.
If perseverance, selfless service and a can-do approach to personal growth are Rachel Van Cleave’s watchwords – as even brief conversations with the Golden Gate University School of Law dean confirm – then the veterans of the Bay Area and their military values are her touchstones and guides. “Veterans bring with them a wealth of leadership knowledge, particularly in the face of great adversity,” Van Cleave says. “Through them I’ve come to recognize that mindfulness, humility and grit are what generate true leadership adaptability. Because of them I’m continually working to apply this lesson in my own small way.”