Posted: December 20th, 2019
Henna Shah (JD ’21) was able to take her legal passions and practice to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during her first summer in law school.
Where do you call home?
San Antonio, Texas
Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?
I attended the University of Texas at Austin. There, I received a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Biology and Business Foundations. I also minored in government.
Where did you work during your first summer in law school?
I had two legal jobs. I spent my days working full-time as a legal honors intern at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Headquarters in Washington D.C. In the evenings, I worked as Professor Ronald Wright’s research assistant.
Did you work in a specific area of law?
As a short answer, I worked in space law! Given that the space law field is quite broad, at NASA, I worked on a variety of projects relating to employment and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) labor laws, environmental law, tort claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and cases under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All of these projects have a space component. For example, I worked on space torts, which are torts committed in outer space.
Being NASA’s sole intern for their General Law Practice Group was a phenomenal experience. I really enjoyed drafting the litigation team’s motions, briefs, and memorandums for cases and policy proposals ranging from employment suits to space torts. I was also able to take the lead on a witness interview.
Why did you decide to attend Wake Forest Law?
I decided to attend Wake Forest Law because of its desire to foster a supportive community, its international law program, and its motto of Pro Humanitate.
Unlike other law schools, Wake Forest Law promotes a sense of community. Coming from a university with a student population of about 51,000, I knew I wanted to attend a law school that was smaller in size. What interested me most about Wake Forest Law was its 1L class model of dividing students into sections of about 40 for classes. I was looking for a smaller-sized academic environment, and Wake Forest Law was perfect for this.
Likewise, I decided to attend Wake Forest Law because of its international law program. Prior to attending law school, I interned at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. where I was able to work on international policy issues. My desire to pursue international law stemmed from this experience, and so did my desire to attend Wake Forest Law. Wake Forest Law’s international law program provides students the opportunity to study abroad, extern abroad, and take international law courses.
Lastly, I was attracted to Wake Forest Law because of its motto of Pro Humanitate. Coming into law school, I knew I wanted to pursue public interest and work for the U.S. government after graduation. Thus, the motto of Pro Humanitate aligned perfectly with my goals.
Describe the Wake Forest community.
The Wake Forest community is best described as being friendly, tight-knit, and supportive. At Wake Forest Law, students are continuously interacting with professors, faculty, and alumni. For example, during my 1L year, I had the opportunity to attend a dinner at my professor’s home where students and professors discussed the current and future state of legal practice.
Likewise, Wake Forest Law alumni are an integral part of the Wake Forest community. Alumni are always willing to talk to students about their career paths and offer advice. In fact, alumni are often on campus for that sole purpose!
What is your most memorable experience during law school so far?
So far, my most memorable experience was winning first place in the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity Competition. For this competition, students from different disciplines and universities were placed on teams to solve and present a solution on the current opioid crisis.
This was an incredible experience because I was able to meet and work with students with backgrounds in public health, medicine, divinity, business, and social work. Also, this experience was quite memorable, because I was able to make an impact on the N.C. community. At the competition, key stakeholders involved in combating the opioid crisis used our ideas for their future proposals and developments.
What are you involved in outside the classroom?
During my 1L year, I served as the communication director for the Environmental Law Society (ELS), a 1L representative for the Public Interest Law Organization (PILO), a member of the Women in Law Organization, and an active pro bono participant. As well, I competed in the Transactional Law Competition, the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity Competition, and the Kilpatrick Mock-Trial Competition where my team was a Quarter-Finalist.
I am also a member of the Moot Court Team, a 2L secretary for the Pro Bono Executive Board, the community outreach director for PILO, the communications director for the Environmental Law Society (ELS), and the vice president of the International Law Society (ILS).
My involvement outside the classroom has been paramount to my overall law school experience. By becoming involved and holding leadership positions in the organizations I am most passionate about, I get to see and experience what it means to be a lawyer in that field. For example, from my experience with PILO’s Board, I was able to learn about public interest law and the potential careers in this area.
What do you do for fun in Winston-Salem when you aren’t studying?
For fun, I enjoy hiking and attending different festivals in and around the Winston-Salem area. Also, every weekend, a group of friends and I explore Winston-Salem’s restaurant scene and eat dinner at new restaurants.
Where do you want your law degree to take you?
After law school, I want to use my law degree to pursue a career in appellate litigation or international law with the federal government. I hope to become a litigator and make an impact on the community and the nation.