Posted: December 18th, 2019
During the summer of 2013, Brandon Paul (JD ’20) was able to watch the Trials of Daryl Hunt with a surprise Q&A with Hunt and Professor Mark Rabil. This experience inspired him to take part in the Innocence and Justice Clinic at Wake Forest Law.
Where do you call home?
Lexington, North Carolina
Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?
Appalachian State University
Describe any legal positions or clinical work you’ve done during law school.
During my time at Wake Forest Law, I’ve taken part in two experiential learning opportunities — the Innocence and Justice Clinic and the Litigation Externship clinic. Both have been an incredible experience for me. They have shown me the realities of the criminal justice system, the nuances of jury psychology, how to grapple with facts to form a cohesive narrative, how to be aware of my own biases that may cloud my judgment, and how to empathize with clients without sacrificing my own mental well-being. I wouldn’t be the student I am today without Professors Anderson, Rabil, Parker, and Virgil and their incredible insightful guidance.
Describe any work prior to law school that influenced your decision to go to law school.
In the summer of 2013, I went to the Governor’s School at Salem College. One of our scheduled programs was a screening of the Trials of Daryl Hunt with a surprise Q&A afterward from Hunt and Professor Mark Rabil. The experience was incredibly moving for me — Hunt’s humility, grace, and faith struck me like a lightning bolt. Since then, my innate desire to help people was given direction and purpose. I worked with Dan Klinedinst, Nathan Miller, Josh Teague, and Tom Speed in Boone, North Carolina while in college. I got to see the day-to-day workings of criminal law and the sheer volume of people that are on-the-edge and past-the-edge that need help. Criminal law has truly become my life’s passion.
Why did you decide to attend Wake Forest Law?
Wake Forest Law chose me and I never looked back. They provided everything I needed and have believed in me since the day I walked in the door.
Describe the Wake Forest community.
The Wake Forest community is incredibly close-knit. Each dean, each professor, and each counselor is there to help you succeed and be the best person that you can be. I have loved that the student always comes first at Wake Forest — that even undergraduate professors have opened their doors for me to audit classes. There is so much here if you take advantage of it.
What do you wish you’d known during your 1L year?
Law (and life) isn’t as complicated as everyone makes it.
What are you involved in outside the classroom (i.e. student organizations, pro bono project, intramural sports, etc.)?
Outside of the classroom, my clinical experiences have far-and-away been the most valuable part of my law school experience. I loved having the boots-on-the-ground experience that the clinics provide.
Do you have a faculty mentor? If so, who and why? How does it add value to your student experience?
Professors Anderson, Rabil, Parker, and Virgil have helped shape me into the young professional I am today. Their wisdom and discernment have been so invaluable to me. When I’m hitting a rough patch or coming against a problem I don’t know how to handle, I know that there are people who have my back that I can look to who will help me.
What do you do for fun in Winston-Salem when you aren’t studying?
I love to cook and I do a ton of activities around cooking — I bake and make my own cheese. You can catch me at the West End YMCA or walking around Hanes Park with my geriatric dog Scooter. I love catching movies, grabbing a beverage at Camino, Caviste, Tate’s, or Pina, or enjoying a cigar at Top Leaf or on my back porch.
Where do you want your law degree to take you?
Wherever people need the greatest amount of help.