Howard University School of Law Incoming Law Student Uses Boot Camp to Prepare for Success in First Year


Only on Day 2 of his 1L Orientation, Howard University School of Law 1L student Calvin Sempebwa is ready to start law school. He prepared himself over the summer for this new experience by completing Balch & Bingham’s 10th annual Susan B. Livingston Boot Camp for Success – a two-day workshop intended to equip incoming law students from underrepresented backgrounds with the necessary tools to succeed in law school and throughout their professional careers.

“The Susan B. Livingston Boot Camp for Success demystified many of the questions I had about law school,” said Sempebwa, a first-generation immigrant from Burtonsville, Maryland. “I gained insight on how to approach exams, study effectively, and prepare for on-campus interviews. I enjoyed the mock class with Professor (Bryan) Fair and the supplements provided because they gave me an idea of what to expect in the classroom and on law school exams, how to read and brief cases, and what cold calling felt like. I connected with Balch attorneys, judges, rising 1Ls, and a summer associate who is also a current student at Howard law. I feel better equipped to start law school because I now have an arsenal of tips and skills I will implement and adjust to meet my needs during my first year of law school.”

Incoming first-year law students from across the country participated in the virtual event. The interactive program featured sessions offering practical tips and advice from judges, attorneys and law professors, a simulated law school class, as well as tips on how to maximize study skills and summer job placement. Participants also had an opportunity to network with both peers and practicing attorneys from a variety of backgrounds.

Speakers included two circuit judges from the 10th Judicial Circuit - Judge Javan J. Patton and Judge Shantá Owens; a district judge from the 10th Judicial Circuit - Judge Shera Grant; Professor Bryan Fair, University of Alabama School of Law; Jonathan Barry-Blocker, civil rights attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center; Stephanie Moore, EVP, general counsel and chief compliance officer, Vistra Corp.; Millie Ronnlund, VP, general counsel & compliance officer, Southern Company; and Balch attorneys.

 “This year’s class included a group of outstanding incoming law students from different backgrounds who (were) eager to cultivate the skills and foundation needed to achieve success in law school and beyond. We (were) thrilled to welcome them to Balch and look forward to providing an educational and meaningful experience,” said Brandi Russell, the firm’s chief diversity & inclusion officer and director of talent management.

Sempebwa’s top three takeaways from the program were: “to be brief, clear & precise when writing law school exams, to feel comfortable cold emailing attorneys when networking, and to focus on my journey through law school and refrain from comparing myself to others.”

Many students who participate in the program go on to credit Boot Camp for Success as a driving factor behind their success during law school and as a young professional.

This is certainly Sempebwa’s goal.

“While at Howard law, I hope to continue pioneering a legacy for all aspiring first-generation law students,” he said. “With the knowledge, skills and network I attained through this Boot camp, I believe I will successfully matriculate through law school. I look forward to using my knowledge to advocate for and actualize change for those who may not have the means from which to do so.”