The pages of this magazine are routinely filled with the experiences of accomplished alumni or talented faculty, but in this issue, we chose to focus on graduating students—our future—and explore what it’s really like to become a lawyer here at Brooklyn Law School. We invited six dynamic students from the Class of 2010—Paul Molina, Sparkle Alexander, Shannon Sneed, James Hays II, Michael Pope, and Gloria Yi—to join in a candid conversation about the past three (or four) years, and encouraged them to reflect on their lives as BLS students. We talked about the reasons they choose Brooklyn Law School, their most treasured experiences, and the moments that made the biggest impact on their law school careers.
BLS: There are many excellent law schools to choose from, and many in New York City. Why Brooklyn Law School?
Mike: As someone committed to public interest work, I wanted to go to a school that could provide me with enough financial support so that I wasn’t overwhelmed with debt after graduating. It’s definitely a school that doesn’t just put public interest as a selling point on the Web site. This is a place that follows through with financial, academic, and faculty support.
Shannon: I was really impressed with the alumni that I met. Even alumni who had graduated a long, long time ago were still very active in the alumni association and had so many great things to say about the people here. It was really important to me that Brooklyn Law seemed to have this large and connected alumni base—that gives the school so much more credibility.
I was also impressed with the school’s flexibility. I had a baby right before I started law school, and I was under this delusion that I was going to go full-time. When I realized that wasn’t practical, I called a number of schools to see if I could switch to part time. Some schools didn’t get back to me at all, but the Admissions Director here said, “That’s no problem. If you need to start in the part-time program you can transfer to the full-time program whenever you’re ready.” It was hugely reassuring. It made me feel like people at Brooklyn Law School were going to be responsive to what I needed, and that made a difference.
Sparkle: I had a full-time job, so I looked at schools in the city that had evening programs. After meeting with the admissions staff, I was impressed with Brooklyn, and with the openness to meet with me early on—much more so than some of the other schools. The evening program turned out to be fantastic.
Paul: I’m from Texas, and other than six months in South America, I’ve never lived outside of the state. I taught for two years, and when I was ready to go to law school I was pretty sure I didn’t want to limit my search to only Texas law schools. I knew nothing about Brooklyn Law, but I was attracted to the public interest work, like Mike, and the more I learned about it, the more appealing it was. I was also thinking about international law, and if you’re going to work in this field, it makes sense to come to New York. I came to Brooklyn Law because they gave me the most attractive offer, and I fell in love with the School and the neighborhood immediately.
Gloria: The financial support was a huge factor in my decision, because I knew that I wanted more flexibility in terms of the career I ultimately decided to pursue. And the location was a big factor, because I wanted to do public service work and be involved in the government. I was also impressed with the clinical program and the ability to have access to the courts on a variety of levels.
When Sparkle Alexander was 16, she left Trinidad & Tobago and moved to New York City to attend St. Francis College. With her immediate family still living in Trinidad, she moved in with her uncle in New Jersey until she found an apartment closer to school. To support herself, she worked for the school’s Dean of Management Sciences. “There are so many more job opportunities in New York than in Trinidad; once I came to college here, I knew I wanted to stay,” she recalled. Alexander went on to earn her MBA from Hofstra University, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while working at the school’s Provost’s Office. She applied to Brooklyn Law School as a part-time student, with plans to continue working full time at HIP Health Plan of New York, where she had been working after graduate school.
Despite juggling work and classes, Alexander maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout law school. She is the Executive Articles Editor of the Brooklyn Law Review and the President of the Moot Court Honor Society. Last year, she earned the National Best Brief award at the 59th Annual New York City Bar National Moot Court Competition. Her note, The Rule 2019 Battle: When Hedge Funds Collide with the Bankruptcy Code (73 Brook. L. Rev. 1411), has already been cited by Bankruptcy Courts in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
“Law school has been an incredible, life-changing experience,” said Alexander. She will begin a clerkship with Judge Eric N. Vitaliano of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in the fall and then will clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After her clerkship, she will return to Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she was a summer associate.