Feb. 06, 2024 – The University of Houston Law Center 2L Aprill Harmon’s journey into law was inspired by her background in social work. Harmon, a licensed clinical social worker for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, found her passion for advocacy during the pandemic, prompting her decision to pursue law school.
She chose the University of Houston Law Center for its reputation and part-time degree program, allowing her to balance work and school commitments.
While attending UHLC, Harmon participated in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Scholars Program, working on family cases as a Summer Associate at Myres and Associates, PLLC.
Harmon reflects on her law school journey, emphasizing the University of Houston Law Center's supportive environment and the opportunities for skill development and practical experience.
What made you decide to be a lawyer?
Well, it was something that I've always thought about doing since I have a background in social work. During the pandemic, when there was a lot of chaos going on, there were times when I had to advocate for either myself or my co-workers. It made me respect that desire to go to law school.
What made you choose UHLC?
I chose the University of Houston Law Center because of its reputation. I also chose it because I knew that I was going to be working full-time while I went to law school, and I was aware that they had a highly ranked part-time program. Also, given the diversity and opportunities that Houston offers, I thought it was the best fit for me.
How do you feel now that you have started your journey?
The first year was rough, especially that first semester, but I got through that. I was questioning, ‘Did I blow my life up?’ But after making it through their first semester and getting a lot of positive feedback, it reassured me that I made the right decision.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of law school?
The most rewarding part was just meeting so many great people from so many different places who share a common vision. I've just had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, including judges, attorneys, alumni, and even students. So that's been the most rewarding to me. It's been a very well-rounded experience.
What do you like the most about the University of Houston Law Center?
I like that there's a lot of opportunity to not only learn but also practice your skills. I love that the staff here looks out for students. There have been times when I've been reached out to by advisors just because they knew that I had something going on personally in my family life. They keep up with students; they know what's going on. So, it makes you feel like they care about your success.
What would you tell an Incoming/Prospective student? Advice?
I would say that if you want to be in a place where you're going to meet a variety of people from different backgrounds in a city where you have a variety of opportunities, this is a great place to go. Also, learn some time management skills; that's going to be very important. Take advantage of any type of legal writing workshop or anything that the school offers to help you with your legal writing skills because you're going to need them.
In what ways did working as a licensed clinical social worker in the V.A. system help you in your legal education?
It’s been helpful to me in terms of interviewing, counseling, and building rapport with clients, as well as having some real-world experience dealing with issues that clients are experiencing. Even when we're discussing cases in class, a lot of times I can draw from my professional experience to help with having a broader understanding and being able to provide additional insight from a practical perspective. It's laid a good foundation to add law to, and I see it as a building block for my legal career.
What is one key takeaway you learned while working on family cases at Myres and Associates, PLLC as part of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Scholars Program?
I learned that regardless of a person's socioeconomic background, people are people. Some may have more resources than others, but at the end of the day, people want the same things. They want to make sure their kids are okay, or they want to make sure they get their fair share of property. People also experience crises in the same way; they get sad, upset, or angry. I think that's been the biggest takeaway for me. It helped me because sometimes I was intimidated by clients that had high net worth, but I was still able to build a good rapport with them because of my experience working with so many different people in crisis day in and day out as a social worker. So, the biggest takeaway was that I had to be confident in my skills and work with people because, ultimately, that's what I'll be doing.
How was your transition going back to school after working?
I think I look at law school as a job, and that was something I had to adjust to. After that first semester, I had to sacrifice some extra things that I was doing to really make time to study and focus on class and school. That's the biggest transition for me—how I had to adjust to treat law school like it was another job for me and apply those same time management skills that I would not necessarily learn in graduate school but at work to get everything that I have to do done.
Are you a part-time program student and how does it fit into your lifestyle?
Currently, I am in the part-time program, and it fits my lifestyle because I work full-time. It allows me to be able to get my law degree while I'm working. I know that if you go full-time in law school, you can't work full-time, so that wasn't an option for me. It's helped me adjust my work schedule around my school schedule, which is important. That allows me to be able to focus on school and studying and then also take advantage of some of the practical opportunities, like clinics and internships. Being in a part-time program has allowed me to balance work and school. I would not have been able to do it if I were in the full-time program.
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