Michelle Emokpae shares her career journey experience
As a child, I used to fantasize about having a bright future. I envisaged myself contributing to positive changes in the world, advising governments, businesses and individuals.
This vision eventually propelled me into my current vocation as a Juris Doctor candidate at the American University Washington College of Law (WCL).
I am studying international economic law. Specifically, I am taking international business law, international intellectual property, international development law and international finance and investment law courses.
But prior to law school, I had succumbed to pressure to study medicine. However, during the third year in my premedical studies program, I decided to drop medicine and study law instead.
Although I deliberated long and hard on that decision, because I had already spent a substantial amount of time and energy in the program and I knew that my family and friends would be surprised about my change of mind, I resolved to follow my heart.
I gained admission into Skadden Arps Honors program in Legal Studies. This program exposed and prepared admitted students to the legal profession and provided a full scholarship to support my education until I graduated.
Once I embarked on the program, I devoted more time to strengthening my writing skills. Although this was not a mandatory requirement for gaining admission into law school, I personally felt that enhancing my writing skills was necessary for my career progression.
Now, as a law student I am honing my skills by choosing strategic leadership positions in organizations, internships and participating in competitions.
Currently, I am in an internship program with the Corporate Legal Affairs division of the Inter-American Development Bank.
Remember the maxim; iron sharpens iron?
I have learned a lot from being around people with similar interests and my advice to both practicing lawyers and students is that it pays to get involved in relevant organizations.
For example, during my stint as the President of WCL’s African Justice Initiative (AJI) which is a student-led organization providing internship opportunities to WCL students in Africa, I expanded the mission by organizing events which exposed students to different aspects of the continent.
I planned and moderated a symposium that focused on investment in Africa using law, urban development, social entrepreneurship, multilateral financial institutions and government relations. I also pioneered the Inaugural African Legal Conference, which was a dialogue about African legal systems, the African Growth Opportunity Act, and Human Rights.
Furthermore, under my leadership we diversified our internship offerings by working with the Supreme Court Justice of Uganda to provide our first judicial internship in the country’s chambers. Additionally, we doubled the amount of internship opportunities available to our students.
In fact, the judicial internship opportunity in Uganda developed through an email from a colleague, which goes to show that networking is a powerful tool!
My advice for young people in Africa interested in studying law in the USA is: just remember that everything is possible.
Plant the vision in your heart, believe it, speak it into existence and grow the vision by taking the necessary steps to achieve it. It may be difficult but your vision will carry you through the difficult times.
First and foremost, familiarise yourself with the admission requirements. For more information, you can visit the Law School Admission Council website: http://www.lsac.org/jd/applying-to-law-school/cas/internationally-educated-apps