When it comes to his life, visiting professor Wade Berryhill has, what he calls, a simple mission statement:
“When God says to do something, I say, ‘yes,’” said Berryhill.
He’s followed this route, from entering law school at the University of Arkansas, through his career as a trial attorney and his 37 years of teaching at the University of Richmond. Now, he adds Regent University to the list.
“I didn’t have any doubt the day Dean [Michael] Hernandez called,” said Berryhill. “I said a quick prayer and realized this is where I needed to be.”
He was tapped to teach Contracts to first-year law students. But most of his day-to-day on campus involves mentoring an estimated 10 to 15 students, guiding them through everything from what courses to take to how to pass the bar exam.
This is how Berryhill approaches many endeavors in his life. He senses a pull. A yearning. It results in a life inspired by calling, rather than ambition. And he encourages his students to search for the same.
“A driven person is often miserable. But if you’re called, there’s a comfort in knowing that. I claim the Scriptures that God doesn’t call you to do the things you’re not qualified to do,” said Berryhill. “Moses probably had a serious stutter, but God called him to deliver a whole nation. Sometimes we’re stretched to the limit, but nevertheless we have the ability.”
According to Berryhill, for law graduates, taking the bar examination is such a stretch. For many, it pushes the limits of anxiety, and not without reason.
“It’s a gateway to their career,” said Berryhill. His advice to Regent students is to schedule and compartmentalize their lives.
“When you study, study. And when you have family time or play time, do that,” said Berryhill. “Don’t be doing one halfway while thinking about the other.”
Berryhill’s educated advice comes from teaching bar exam courses and more than 30 years of “sitting at the table” post-bar exam, discussing test answers with other selected law professors. Over the years, he’s tutored countless students – he estimates close to 10,000 – in bar exam preparation in Virginia.
And of course, he’s had first-hand experience taking the exam himself.
“I took it seriously, but I didn’t stress,” said Berryhill. “I had worked very hard in law school and was confidence in my ability. Plus, I have a deep and abiding faith as I’m able to have. I wouldn’t say it was pleasant,” said Berryhill. “But in the grand scheme of difficult things I’ve had to do in my life, it wasn’t in the top-ten by any means.”
Berryhill entered law school shortly after his tenure as a pilot in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. A feat which put the pressures of law school and the bar exam into a healthy perspective. Looking back on his life, he can see how everything from his advanced law degree from Colombia University to his trial work has led to the work he does preparing his “energetic” students today.
“I really enjoy the students, and when the light catches on and I can see it in their eyes, I feel good,” said Berryhill. “And I love the feeling as much now as the day I started.”
Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.