Andrea Smith

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Education:

  • Temple University; Criminal Justice

Job: Clerkship with the Hon. John R. Padova, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; followed by Litigation Associate at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young; followed by Clerkship with the Hon. Timothy J. Savage, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Program: Part-Time Evening, Full-Time Day

Law School Lessons

I had the privilege of experiencing Temple Law both as an evening student and as a day student. I learned a lot from both experiences—I will never forget the comradery and grit of my evening classmates or the experiential opportunities I was able to participate in as a day student. 

During my first two years at Temple, I worked for the Philadelphia court system and also attended night classes with thirty-five other evening students. Most of these students were juggling successful careers, families, the numerous other responsibilities that come with adult life, and law school. Looking back, those two years were the toughest two years of my life. They are also the two years I am most proud of. 

To future evening students balancing work and law school, hang in there. You are embarking on a difficult journey that may feel impossible at times. But the journey and struggles along the way will be worth it, and the Temple Law community is there to help and support you. Be there for your classmates. Cheer each other on. Take each day at a time and don’t let minor setbacks discourage you.   

Also, remember that law school is not one size fits all. After speaking with a few faculty members, I made the difficult decision to leave my job in order to focus exclusively on school during my last two years at Temple. This decision afforded me the opportunity to explore internships, devote more time to student groups, and pave my career path. To all future students, it is okay to diverge from the path you initially envisioned for yourself when you applied to law school. Keep an open mind, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and take advantage of every opportunity.

Perseverantia Vincit

For several years before coming to Temple Law, I worked at the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center in the Criminal Listings Unit. I assisted the public, scheduled cases, and worked closely with court administrators, lawyers, and judges. The exposure I gained at work and the encouragement of my mentors in the court system inspired me to apply to law school in the first place. Temple Law’s evening program was my first choice because, similar to my undergraduate experience, it enabled me to continue working while pursuing my degree. I knew it would be challenging, but I was not ready to give up the financial stability and real-world experience my job provided.

Balancing work and law school proved to be a tremendous lesson in self-discipline and resilience. My social life took a backseat and I sacrificed significant time with my loved ones. Because I worked during the day and attended classes at night, I treated the weekends like workdays for school. I would wake up early, work out, and then go to a coffee shop to remove myself from the distractions of home. I would not leave until I finished my assignments. Eventually, I became a faster, more efficient reader, but the first couple months were particularly tough.

Although it was difficult, working helped me succeed in law school. The encouragement from my supervisors and coworkers was integral to preserving my motivation and sense of accomplishment. Working also helped me keep things in perspective, focus on the big picture, and acknowledge the heavy responsibility that comes with being a part of the legal profession. My role in the court system reminded me that being a lawyer is about more than grades and accolades—it is about maintaining integrity, putting forth your best efforts to help people, and having a positive impact on the world outside the classroom.

Experiential Learning

I participated in several judicial practicums at Temple Law. While Temple boasts a variety of experiential opportunities, internships, externships, and clinicals, students can also design their own practicums. During my third year, I completed two custom practicums: one for a judge in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and one for a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. These practicums perfectly complimented Temple’s highly regarded Integrated Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP). I was able to learn the rules of evidence and civil procedure in class, observe the rules and advocacy skills in court, then apply the skills in ITAP.

These judicial practicums also sparked my interest in clerking. During my last year, I had the honor of participating in the Federal Judicial Clerkship Honors (FJC) Program working alongside a United States District Court Judge. It was surreal. I immediately felt like a vital part of the chambers team. I worked closely with the law clerks on various memorandum, attended meetings with the judge and his staff, and observed dozens of proceedings, including jury selection, trials, and sentencings. My FJC experience gave me a comprehensive insight into chambers and enabled me to gain a better understanding of what it means to be an effective advocate.

After these experiences, I feel prepared and eager to start as a law clerk this fall.

Temple Law Community

The Temple Law community is a family. 

 As a first-generation law student, I was terrified of starting law school. I had heard horror stories about cutthroat classmates, intimidating professors, and impossible exams. My time at Temple Law could not have been further from these stories.

At Temple, students are welcomed and accepted, regardless of their backgrounds, career goals, or initial fear of cold calls. From orientation to quarantine, it is evident that the faculty and students support and deeply care about each other. If a Temple student has a problem, academic or personal, the Temple Law community is there ready to help. I was constantly surrounded by an outstanding collection of not only the most brilliant lawyers and future lawyers, but the most genuinely kind human beings as well. Reflecting on the last four years, I have acquired many lifelong friends in my classmates, the greatest mentors in my professors and faculty, and have become an all-around better person because of the people in my Temple Law family.

Faculty Influence

Temple Law has an extremely impressive faculty, many of whom helped shape my legal education. However, I am particularly thankful to Professor Craig Green and Professor James Shellenberger, as well as several adjunct professors. 

First, it is impossible to talk about my Temple Law experience without paying tribute to Professor Green. I was assigned to his Civil Procedure class during my second semester. Because I did not know my first-semester grades yet, I started his class feeling unsure of myself and drained. From his mismatched sneakers to his stand-up quality humor, Professor Green was the breath of fresh air I needed to reignite my enthusiasm for learning. His passion for teaching is rivaled only by his unwavering commitment to his students. Professor Green truly cares that each of his students reaches their full academic and professional potential. He sees in students what they are often unable to see in themselves. I will forever be grateful to Professor Green for believing in me and helping me find my confidence.

Second, I could not graduate from Temple Law without taking a class with the legendary Professor Shellenberger. I took two classes with him this past year and he did not disappoint. Professor Shellenberger leads by example. Each semester, he teaches several classes and still manages to actively participate in student life from orientation on. Despite a hefty workload, he remains quick to smile and always has a minute to check in with students. I am glad I was able to learn from Professor Shellenberger. His enthusiasm, devotion to Temple Law, and ability to maintain a constant positive attitude are lessons I will carry with me. 

Last, Temple Law has an incredible adjunct faculty. During my time in law school, I was fortunate enough to take classes with Judge Timothy Rice, Judge Richard Lloret, Scott Reid, Jessica Natali, and Mike Engle. Each provided invaluable feedback and were monumental in helping me improve my oral advocacy skills and figure out my goals for the future.