Meet Hannah Norem (JD/MDiv ’23)

portrait of hannah norem

Growing up in a family of lawyers and pastors, Hannah Norem’s (JD/MDiv ’23) passion for law and divinity began in her childhood and it continued to grow during her undergraduate experience.

Where do you call home?

Houston, Texas

Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?

Augustana University

What year will you graduate from Wake Forest Law?

2023

Describe any experiences prior to law school that influenced your decision to go to law school. Why did it inspire you?

I come from a family of lawyers and pastors, so when I was seven years old, I was Sandra Day O’Connor for Halloween. I have always been captivated by how I can help make people’s lives better, and I know that the law is one of the ways to help those who need it most.

Why did you decide to attend Wake Forest Law?

Since my sophomore year of college, I have wanted to pursue a joint JD/Master of Divinity degree. I was a triple major in undergrad – in government, religion, and French – and I had experiences in undergrad that convinced me that I could work within both religious and legal institutions to create constructive change. I then applied to many different joint programs across the nation, but Wake Forest was the one place where it seemed like both schools were working in tandem to ensure Pro Humanitate – for the whole of humanity. I found my time in the School of Divinity at Wake Forest incredibly enriching in both the scholarly and practical spheres, and I have found my time in the School of Law to be similarly rewarding.

Describe the Wake Forest community. Provide specific examples if possible.

The Wake Forest community is a powerful collective of leaders and learners who are doing what they can to make the world a better place. As a part of two communities at Wake Forest in the Schools of Divinity and Law, each group is deeply passionate about improving the whole person and one another. Even amidst a pandemic, my classmates have been so kind and willing to roll with the ever-changing circumstances of the time in which we live. For example, someone will miss class for one reason or another, and a classmate will send them notes before they can even ask. Even cold calls are less intimidating when you have classmates who are willing to help you with the answer when your brain goes blank. Every person I have met is absolutely on your team and wanting to help you in any way they can.

What is your most memorable experience during law school (thus far)? What makes it so memorable?

My most memorable law school experience so far is just what it looks like to be in law school during a pandemic! While initially unsure how it would look (or even how long it would last), Wake Forest has taken every precaution to keep us safe during this uncertain time. While mask-to-mask classes are certainly a strange experience and different from my previous academic experiences, I have valued the in-person class time we have shared as a cohort and am grateful for how Wake Forest is taking care of its students.

Describe any experiences that prepared you and/or made you excited to attend law school.

I was a chaplain intern at a hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota the summer after my first year of divinity school. I had 240 hours of clinical time with patients from all walks of life facing all kinds of medical diagnoses. When I spent time with each patient and their families, I was moved to learn about the factors outside of their health issues that lead to further hardships. These structural factors, also called the social determinants of health, are challenges that can be solved by people with all kinds of skill sets, but especially legal skills. This experience was powerful, as walking alongside these individuals was an honor, and it sparked a passion to learn more about how a future lawyer can work with others to improve these systemic issues that affect more than just a person’s health.

What are you involved in outside the classroom? How does this add value to your overall law school experience?

I am involved in the Healthcare Advocacy Pro Bono Project and Honor Council. Both of these have greatly added value to my law school experience, as they have both been a great way to meet fellow law students and really put the value of Pro Humanitate out in the world. I am also a member of Trial Bar, which has been a great way to practice and strengthen my oral advocacy skills.

What do you do for fun in Winston-Salem when you aren’t studying?

I enjoy hanging out with my friends (socially distanced and masked!), trying out new restaurants and breweries around Winston-Salem, and going to Wake Forest and Winston-Salem sporting events (Go Dash!).

Where do you want your law degree to take you?

I would love to work with or in religious institutions, using my legal knowledge and practical legal training to create holistic and constructive change.