CUA law student has passion for education law
By: Sara Gates
Many people become litigators because they love to argue.
But for Catholic University law student Kristen Kelley, the largest part of her love for the law is simply the adrenaline rush.
“I won a state championship back in high school,” Kelley said,” and when I’m in the courtroom I get the same adrenaline rush that I got that day, which is huge.”
Kelley entered her first year at Dartmouth College and was intent on becoming a journalist. She sought out the school newspaper and declared English as her major. It was not until her sophomore year that she became enthralled in political theory and the law and decided to declare a second major in government.
Skip to two years later. Kelley graduated from Dartmouth with stellar marks and moved to Manhattan to get her feet wet in the legal world. She landed a job as a paralegal in the litigation department at the international law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, the 8th largest in New York City. Kelley was familiar with competition in athletics, but the intensity of the other employees provided her with a new challenge.
However, the level of competition did not turn her off to law school and only pushed her to apply herself more in preparation. After two years doing her due diligence in New York, Kelley threw herself into law school.
“It’s a challenge in the sense of how the classes are conducted,” Kelley said referring to the Socratic Method of teaching. “My first semester was a whirlwind.”
Kelley chose CUA because of her curiosity in public interest law. She also returned to her love of writing and joined the school Law Review. Though CUA is nowhere near the size of Dewey, Kelley said it was the perfect choice for her because she was able to excel and make strong relationships with her professors.
With one year left at Catholic’s Columbus School of Law, Kelley plans to look for a job in litigation in New York or Washington D.C. Though she does not know what type of litigation she will practice, she is leaning toward criminal defense, but goes back and forth between defense and prosecution every day.
But the one thing she does know is that has a passion for special education law, and will continue to work in that area, even if it’s pro bono.
“Education is absolutely the most important thing anyone can receive,” Kelley said. “That is a field of law that is so crucial.”
*Kristen Kelley is a summer law clerk at HooverLaw.