It’s dog-eat-dog in the world of modern law, in both education and practice.
But according to Regent University School of Law’s (LAW) Ronald L. Fick Book Award recipients, community beats competition every time.
On Thursday, February 16, LAW students were honored at the bi-annual ceremony, which recognizes the students who receive top marks in their courses each semester.
For the Fall Semester 2016 Book Award recipients, success isn’t derived from a stereotypical urge to be the best of the best. It comes from a place of humility, prayer and a “we’re all in this together” mentality.
They do this while maintaining their academic excellence, learning from world-class professors and setting themselves up for their future careers. Here’s what they had to say:
Noah DiPasquale, 3L – Business Structures and Agency Book Award Recipient
“You hear stories about how competitive it is as different law schools, that was one of the things that originally drew me to Regent was seeing the atmosphere here,” said DiPasquale. “I noted the way that the students interact with each other was distinctly different than I would’ve expected.”
His impression has held true through all three years of his legal education. He attributed accepting his eighth book award to the mentorship opportunities Regent Law students have among their peers, as well as the faculty he knows truly care for their students.
“It’s essential…to have their guidance on not only what it’s like to be an attorney, but a Christian attorney,” said DiPasquale.
He believes attending another law school outside of Regent would’ve potentially impacted his personal character – and not necessarily for its betterment.
“It definitely would’ve changed the kind of person I’ve become. It would’ve been much more difficult to not become very cynical or super-competitive, the worst parts of my type-A personality,” said DiPasquale. “It would’ve been more difficult to succeed in that environment.”
Pamela Dodge, 3L – International Law Book Award Recipient
“At 16, if you’d asked me what I was going to do with my life I would say, ‘I’m going to be an overseas missionary or a lawyer,’ which made people laugh,” said Dodge.
Now, Dodge is a graduate assistant at the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law. Through the center, she’s had the opportunity to work with organizations like the International Justice Mission, and Shared Hope International.
“That’s why I came to Regent. It was my two passions intertwine, I don’t think I would’ve experienced this somewhere else,” said Dodge.
Her work with these organizations has influenced her post-graduate plans. Beginning August 2017, she plans to spend a year in Uganda. There, she’ll be able to pursue both of her passions: to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to restore justice to a broken world.
Skills she’s sharpened as a Regent Law student.
“We’re learning to come at human rights and international law with an objective standard of truth,” said Dodge. “I know there’s a ‘guiding star,’ and that our work is ultimately an extension of the Gospel.”
Rebecca Garcia, 1L – Civil Procedure I, Contracts I, Foundations of Law, and Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Book Awards Recipient
“I put in a lot of time, and you definitely have to do your part, but I think God will take care of you as long as you put him first,” said Rebecca Garcia. “I give him my best and I feel like He honors that.”
Part of her best includes a one-day Sabbath, a commitment to getting at least eight hours of sleep at night, and dance class at the local Academie de Ballet.
“I wake up, study, stop to eat, stop for ballet class, study, go to bed, repeat,” said Garcia. “I think it’s healthy both physically and mentally to take that break as a refresher.”
She knows that the moral standards of today’s lawyers are codified in the Rules of Professional Responsibility; but so much of “morality” is open to a lawyer’s judgement. She believes taking time to step back from her studies is helping her develop her skills on how to make ethical decisions.
“Community is a great way to view oneself as a counselor and to really care about the client – not just abandon morality or be the hired gun,” said Garcia. “We’re learning to really care for whoever may step into our office and try to fight for their needs in the right way.”
Cody Goings, 1L – Torts I Book Award Recipient
With a few family members already in the quiver of the Regent Law legacy, Cody Goings resisted the urge to apply to Regent at the start.
However when he met with Regent LAW dean, Michael Hernadez, all that changed.
“He had a packed day, and he had 15 minutes scheduled with me, but he sat with me for an hour,” said Goings. “I didn’t get that experience anywhere else at any other law school.”
Now he says that imperative decision he once resisted has been better than he could’ve ever hoped for.
“It’s been amazing, the faculty are top-notch, and it’s academically and intellectually challenging,” said Goings. “The student community is supportive and helpful. I can already tell, I’ve been at it for five months at this point and I already know I have some lifelong friends from this group of people.”
Although, his classmates aren’t without rivalry.
“People care, obviously. We’re law students. We’re super ambitious and motivated, but you have this thing where you actually care about people, too,” said Goings. “It’s not just about going out and making a ton of money, it’s about going in and changing the profession for Jesus.”
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