By Scheree Gilchrist
On March 30, a free informational session was held for college students to help answer the common questions among prospective students: is law school a good fit for me, and what can expect in the first year? Featuring an experienced panel of North Carolina Bar Association lawyers from diverse backgrounds and specialties within the legal field, the event provided insights on what it takes to excel in law school and eventually practice law. With an engaged audience of more than 40 attendees, many of whom stayed after the session to speak with panelists, it was evident that there is a strong interest in navigating the complex world of legal education.
To provide comprehensive answers and diverse perspectives on what law school entails, the panel, moderated by Hassan Kingsberry, included:
- Carmelle Alipio, a corporate litigator at Nelson Mullens with expertise in intellectual property litigation, cybersecurity, and data privacy
- Leila Hicks, a partner at James Scott Farrin with experience in social security disability, workers’ compensation and criminal defense.
- Larissa Mervin, a managing attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina with experience in domestic violence advocacy and pro bono recruitment and programming
- Kayla Britt, an assistant attorney general in the appellate and post-conviction section
These speakers shared their thoughts and experiences on multiple topics. The first, “Is Law School for me?”, encouraged students to assess their passion for the law to help them determine whether attending law school is in their best interest. The next topic focused on how to prepare and take the LSAT exam, as well as what other aspects of a law school application are important to admissions offices. The discussion then moved to evaluating the investment of law school, both in terms of time and finances. Finally, the panel provided valuable insight into the IL year and what students can expect academically.
Reflecting on the event, attendee Aiden Portnoy (NCSU Student), stated, “[It] was a great opportunity to hear from legal professionals from different backgrounds. It shows students that no matter where you come from or what you may want to do, the legal field is full of people who are more than happy to share their experience and help you along the way.”
Panelists were equally appreciative of the time spent with college students. Larissa Mervin shared, “I always appreciate the opportunity to shape the next generation of lawyers by sharing about law school and the practice of law with students of all ages and backgrounds. My hope is that by doing so, our profession will increasingly be more reflective of the people it serves.” Kayla Britt stated, “I enjoyed speaking with pre-law students at NCSU. It’s always a great day to remind students that law school is an attainable goal and to share my stories as a source of encouragement.”
Moderator Hassan Kingsberry summed it up best when he said, “I kept hearing the theme of knowing the requirements of the schools you’re applying to as being important, but also there not being a set LSAT score, major, internship, timing, etc. for going to law school and becoming a lawyer. I’d encourage flexibility and just knowing you want to be a lawyer.”
The Law School Information Panel was presented by the North Carolina Bar Foundation Civic Education and Community Engagement Committee.