Charleston Law students encouraged to dream big at national judgeship event

Charleston School of Law students and leaders attended the national diversity event for law students and attorneys, “Roadways to the Bench: Who Me? A Bankruptcy or Magistrate Judge?”

The event was hosted by the federal Judiciary, led by the Judicial Conference Committees on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System and the Magistrate Judges System, and held at 38 locations across the United States.

The event was created to encourage law students to consider pursuing Judiciary career opportunities, with the goal of expanding the pipeline of qualified applicants from which to select new bankruptcy and magistrate judges.

“The event creates an opportunity for those questions to be answered and for participants to realize that they too can gain or already possess many of the attributes that would make them a wonderful candidate to serve as a federal court judge.” – New York Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave/U.S. Courts

“It’s hard to duplicate the experience of sitting across the table from esteemed federal judges and ask questions about their personal journeys to becoming a judge,” said Nick Sanders, Charleston Law Associate Dean of Students. “These are critical opportunities to advance the equipping and preparation for all our students, but especially those who come from communities or backgrounds that are under-represented in the profession and on the bench.”

The South Carolina roundtable was held in Columbia and was attended by Charleston School of Law leaders and students Sherman “Tres” Brown, Daven Barnett, Donovan Coker, Marissa Bryan, Jessica Hernandez, and Khari Ford.

Dean Larry Cunningham served on the planning committee for the Columbia event, which was chaired by Bankruptcy Judge Elisabetta Gasparini and Magistrate Judge Shiva Hodges.

Florida-based magistrate Judge Shaniek Mills Maynard said in a press release that she “wrestled with the decision to apply” for a judgeship position saying:

“I didn’t think of myself as the most likely candidate, there wasn’t really anyone who looked like me on the bench in the county where I lived. Plus, I had spent the last three years outside of the courtroom running a non-profit. I think a lot of very good, very qualified lawyers rule themselves out because they don’t think they fit the mold.”

Diversity is a core value at Charleston School of Law. The Office of Diversity Initiatives seeks to create a campus environment that welcomes and fosters diversity in broad aspects. The Departments and Offices work to be inclusive.

“The legal profession and legal education have a responsibility to ensure that such opportunities are widely available and tailored to students who can benefit by seeing themselves in leadership positions so that every aspect of the legal community is an accurate reflection of the communities in which we live,” noted Sanders.

Four federal judges participated in a livestream panel from Washington, D.C., followed by local roundtable sessions where law students had the opportunity to interact with judges.

According to the U.S. Courts website more than 600 federal judges attended the discussions throughout the country to speak and participate in small group settings about their paths to the bench and careers in the law.

Charleston Law 3L Addison “Oz” Osborne won three awards including the Professionalism Award, Pro Bono Populi Service Award, and SBA Senator of the Year, presented to the student leader who exemplifies dedication, service and commitment.

Director of Externships, Public Service and Pro Bono Michelle Condon recognized 32  students were for outsanding pro bono service. Each of the 32 students particpated in 100 or more hours of service. 

Madeline Hall Fletcher (586), Monica Lee Hughes (521), Nicole Bella Habina (405) and Patrick Ryan O’Hara (400) led the list. 

Additional honors went to Mikaela Lynn Andrews, Katherine Elise Banick, Carolina Hunter Barker, Josette Elizabeth Brooksbank, Marissa Gayle Bryan, Dena Leigh Byrd-Byrum, Blake Sandifer Campbell Jr., David Connor Campbell, Sydney Katherine Catlett, George Edward Coleman IV, Jenna Kay DePoy, David Thomas Going, Andrew Sanders Hall, Drayton Marshal Hammes, Lori Larson Horst, Zenia Cyrus Irani, Alexandria Shai Jones, Caroline Elizabeth Lamb, Marie Margaret Lerch, Kackenzie Jo Lintz, Ariana Maria Patsaros, Cameron Lee Perry, Brittany Rebecca Schelper, Caitlin Burrell Turner, Sydney Nicole Willingham, Allsion Faith Wood, Trey Walker Wright, and Kaitlyn Jo Yost.

Pro service is a core value at Charleston School of Law and was created to instill a commitment to service. Each graduate is required to participate a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono service in the community.

Director of Admissions Michael Banks presented three memorial scholarships to Charleston Law students.

  • Michelle Robbins Award: Katherine Banick (in memory of Michelle Robbins)
  • Kat Westbrook Rock Star Award: Lonnie Harvey (in memory of Kat Westbrook)
  • Angela Nussbaum Award: Zachary Porter (in memory Angela Nussbaum)

Awards Day Photo Gallery

In addition, awards were presented in the following categories:

Adjunct Professor of the Year: Brian McElreath

Presented to a Charleston School of Law Adjunct Professor who “exudes superlative teaching ability, effectiveness inside the classroom, availability outside the classroom, and participation in Student Life.”

Professionalism Award: Alexandria Jones (co-winner)

Charleston School of Law Civility Award: Gabriel Mangold

Presented to a Charleston School of Law student who “best exemplifies the high moral character and professionalism” charged to all who attend the Charleston School of Law.

Andy Abrams Excellence Award: Captain Grady Mason

For twelve years, Andy Abrams served the Charleston School of Law as Dean with unparallel commitment to the school and its students providing uncommon encouragement and support during tumultuous and uncertain circumstances. The award is presented to the administrator, faculty member, or staff member who embodies the same level of devotion to students as Dean Abrams.

Student Organization Awards:

  • Phi Delta Phi (Breanna Thomas) – Alex Sanders Award
  • Business Law Society (Nicole Leva) – BLS Redden Award