Justin Knapp- UNC School of Law

1. Please tell us about yourself
I am 25 years old. I went to UNC Chapel Hill for college, where I studied Political Science. After college, I worked as a paralegal for Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in the firm’s Charlotte office. During my time there, I assisted in the preparation of closing documents for major real estate lending transactions. I grew up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and have stayed in North Carolina since moving here for college.
2. What first made you want to go to law school?
I initially became interested in law school through a few of the classes I took at UNC Chapel Hill, one of which was a course about the death penalty and the arguments for and against. I wanted to work as a paralegal after graduation to explore what a career in the legal field would look like and make sure law school would be worth the time and financial investment for me personally. My time at Cadwalader deepened my desire to go to law school and it also sparked an interest in transactional legal work. I consider myself very lucky to have had this experience because most students do not have transactional legal experience going into law school, nor do they get significant transactional experience during law school, as law school is very litigation focused.
3. Why did you choose your law school?
I chose the UNC School of Law because of my desire to stay in the Southeast, specifically in North Carolina. I also felt a certain sense of comfort at UNC, and knew that comfort here would help me to limit stress and distractions and allow myself to focus my time on succeeding in law school. Because I lived in Charlotte for over a year, I was able to qualify for in-state tuition, which made UNC considerably more affordable compared to the other options I considered.
4. What is one thing you wish you knew about law school or the admissions process ahead of time?
One thing I wish I knew before law school is how much interest on loans will affect your loan balance by the time you graduate. It is important to succeed on the LSAT and max out your scholarship options, and weigh the cost of each school vs. the value of the degree. Prospective students should realize that your loans accrue interest during law school and your ultimate loan balance will likely be higher than you anticipate. Also, many prospective students do not know this, but you can negotiate with schools for a larger scholarship offer by sending them your offers from other, similarly or higher ranked law schools.
5. What student organizations or activities are you involved in?
During law school, I was involved in the Student Bar Association, specifically the Faculty Selection Committee, where I conducted student-led interviews for candidates for professor positions at UNC Law. I was also a member of the North Carolina Law Review, and I am a student representative for LexisNexis.
6. Discuss any exciting jobs or internships you’ve had while in law school.
I am very fortunate to have had many exciting internship experiences during my time at UNC Law. During the summer after my 1L year, I interned for a justice on the North Carolina Supreme court for a few weeks, followed by an in-house internship at Ingersoll Rand, a very large company that owns brands such as American Standard, Club Car, and ThermoKing. During the summer after my second year of law school, I interned at McGuireWoods in the firm’s Charlotte office. I took projects from a wide variety of practice groups and ultimately received an offer from the firm’s Healthcare group. I accepted the full-time offer and am super excited to join the firm in September. During the fall of my 3L year, I externed for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the New York office. My work at the SEC was very meaningful and I was able to work on several high-profile cases. My supervisor also provided me with ample opportunities to go to court, sit in on depositions, and observe meetings with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office. I consider myself super lucky to have been able to intern for a federal agency for class credit.
7. What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to work out at CrossFit and play basketball with my law school classmates. I also enjoy cooking and trying out new restaurants. I am also pretty close with several of my law school classmates and enjoy spending time with them outside of class, whether it be going to UNC basketball games or watching the Bachelor. If you are able to manage your time well in law school, you can definitely find time to spend on your hobbies, and find new hobbies.
8. What is your dream career?
I am still figuring out my dream career, but right now, I am very happy about going to McGuireWoods in the fall. I will be performing challenging and interesting work, in an area of the law that is constantly changing.  The practice group I am joining is very entrepreneurial and I am excited to have the ability to work closely with clients and pursue career development opportunities so early on in my legal career.