Stephanie Hartman '14 had her eye on law from a young age. While growing up in Las Vegas, she liked to the idea of going into an analytical field that would enable her to make a difference in the lives of others.
"I always knew I wanted to study political science. Power structures in government were of great interest to me and I wanted to understand the internal workings of government relations from an international perspective," says Hartman.
After earning her B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University, Stephanie worked in banking for a few years, and then decided it was time to head east for a legal adventure. Her experiences prior to law school gave her an appreciation for the Christian environment at Regent Law, although adjusting to a Christian education did come with its challenges.
"Initially, I was thrown off by teachers and students praying in class because it is not what I am used to," she says. However, she quickly came to realize the impact of Regent’s emphasis on spiritual vitality. "The incorporation of prayer in the classroom has changed my life," she says.
In addition to studying full-time, Hartman is a student intern at the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia (Norfolk), Vice President of the Virginia Bar Association Law School Council (VBA), Vice President of Community Relations for the Hispanic Law Students Association, a part-time graduate assistant, and a member of both the International Law Society (ILS) and Phi Alpha Delta (PAD). She finds encouragement in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. "In the scheme of things, this life is temporary. God made us, He loves us, and He wants us to have a relationship in him. To worry and be bogged down is a waste," she says.
Although her commitments can be "overwhelming" at times, Hartman says that after her experience in the workforce as a full-time employee she "wouldn’t have it any other way." In the midst of all the challenges of law school, Hartman says it is paramount to remind ourselves of the ultimate goal, a relationship with Christ that begins in this world and extends into the next. According to Hartman, this is what renews and inspires her to press forward.
“My pursuit of a law degree began when God closed a lot of doors that I expected to be open,” says Joel Ready '15, a new student in the Two-Year J.D. Program at Regent Law.
Ready, who received his Master of Divinity from Liberty University, thought he would work for a church while earning his Ph.D. in Theology.
“Job interviews in which I was told that they would offer me the position fell through. One Ph.D. program lost my transcript twice.”
As doors closed, Ready realized that God was rerouting him. Ready discussed the situation with his father, who asked Ready if he had ever considered law school. Ready decided to take the LSAT and says that things set in motion after that.
“I wanted to complete law school in less than three years,” says Ready. “When I mentioned shorter law programs to someone, the person laughed and said those don’t exist. Then, I heard about Regent’s Two-Year J.D. Program.”
So far, Ready says it’s interesting to see how logic works into the law. In particular, he liked Professor James Duane’s evidence class because he made a difficult subject matter understandable.
In the future, Ready wants to do media work for churches, helping initiate a return to solid Christian doctrine through videos that can be integrated into church services. His small business, Ready Media, which specializes in photography and video production, is a platform for that dream. Ready says a law degree will equip him with the knowledge and skills to defend his business.
Old Dominion University
Sean Mitchell '16 worked in the criminal justice system for nearly 20 years before starting law school.
He was a senior U.S. probation officer for the United States Probation Office and a criminal defense investigator with the Office of the Federal Public Defender. Currently, he is a legal assistant at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and an investigator at Zoby, Broccoletti, & Normile, P.C.
Reflecting on his personal and professional experiences, Mitchell says, “I have a deep recognition that everyone is capable of sin and does sin. Having that perspective makes it a lot easier for me to work with people who have committed awful crimes.”
“I visit jails a lot,” Mitchell adds. “There is something humbling about going to visit a client and knowing that after the meeting, you get to leave and he doesn’t.”
Since he first began working in criminal justice in 1996, Mitchell had considered law school but decided a J.D. wasn’t a necessity because he was doing very well without one. Several years ago, however, that changed.
“I had the opportunity to speak in front of the Virginia State Bar on the use of social media in criminal defense investigations,” Mitchell explains. “At the event, I met a lawyer who pulled me aside and said, ‘What are you doing? Go to law school.’”
Mitchell says that at Regent, his extensive professional experience has been supplemented by a lot more than legal knowledge.
“Regent has made me spiritually strong where I was spiritually weak. I really appreciate the constant reminders of God’s love and authority. Professors and students will stop whatever they are doing and pray for me. I don’t know if that’s something you get anywhere else but Regent.”
There are many reasons why Amy Konopik ‘14, who transferred to Regent Law after a year of law school in California, values the education she receives here.
“I wanted a legal education founded on Biblical principles,” Amy explains. “At my former school, there was usually only one perspective of the law, which was extremely liberal both politically and socially. I often felt alone in my conservative ideology and that my opinions and beliefs were not respected in the classroom.”
Amy says she was also attracted to Regent Law’s reputation and competitive bar pass rate.
“If I was going to spend several years and lots of money to attend school, I wanted to learn law from a well-respected school that teaches with a balanced perspective.”
Amy says that in her time at Regent Law she has learned that it’s not difficult to be a Christian lawyer.
“At my previous school, it seemed an impossible task! But when I took Christian Foundations of Law at Regent, I understood how to reconcile being a Christian and being an advocate of the law. I let those ideas percolate through what I had already learned in my first year of school.”
While transferring can be a difficult period of transition, Amy says she made the right choice because she not only received a grounded legal education but is a part of a community she enjoys.
“When my daughter was born 15 weeks premature, many of my professors reached out to me and still ask about how we are doing. The students here have a heart to serve. They’re not studying just to make big bucks someday—they really want to make a difference.”
Zachary Whiting ‘14 started his first year of law school at a university in Iowa because it was close to his family. Over the course of the year, Zachary realized he wasn’t satisfied with the legal education he was receiving.
During his 1L year, Zachary got engaged and thought about transferring. He says the Lord reminded him of Regent Law, to which he had applied before, and encouraged him to reapply. About two days before his wedding, Zachary heard back: Regent Law accepted him as a transfer student.
“My wife and I got married on July 28, 2012. We went on our honeymoon, and we didn’t know where we were going to live. We found an apartment while we were on our honeymoon. Then, we came back, packed our stuff, and moved to Virginia.”
“It was a huge leap of faith,” Zachary adds, “but God impressed on my heart that everything would be okay and that He would provide.”
Since starting his 2L year at Regent Law, Zachary says transferring was the right choice. He feels more intellectually challenged and says he has found his niche working as a law clerk for the American Center for Law and Justice.
“I am passionate about First Amendment cases,” he says. “Situations in which someone faces discrimination because of his or her beliefs bring out the advocate in me. I feel like I have rediscovered the passion and drive that drew me to law initially. Regent helped rejuvenate me.”
University of California, San Diego
Cortland Bobczynski’s '14 strict schedule, creative study techniques and fun-loving personality help her excel under the pressures of law school.
"I wish I knew how to organize my life a little better before I started law school," says Cortland, who finds that mastering the balance between school and life is challenging. "It is hard to stay on top of my studies, as well as do basic tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning or catching up socially. It would have been nice to be mentally prepared for that."
But Cortland has adapted well and finds ways to make studying not only productive and efficient, but fun and effective. An early riser, Cortland studies in the morning, in between classes and in the afternoon. She studies best in a study room in the library with classical music blasting through her headphones. With that schedule, Cortland can enjoy nights off.
Cortland has found that being herself is the best technique to succeeding in law school and enjoying her time at Regent. "Being a law student doesn’t necessitate being serious all the time,” she says. “Law school can be fun if you make it that way."
After law school, Cortland would like to work on First Amendment issues like Christian freedom of expression and religious liberty. She recently enjoyed summer internship researching public policy issues with Citizen Link, a Focus on the Family affiliate.
Cortland desires to speak for the voiceless, and uses Jesus as an example.
"Becoming a lawyer means being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves," she says. "Jesus is the best advocate of all. He advocates on our behalf because He knows we cannot do it ourselves. I desire to be an advocate for others in the same way."
Looking back on his 1L and 2L years at Regent Law, Ryan Reyes ‘14—who is now a 3L—says he values the tight-knit community he has found and the practical experience he has gained as a Regent Law student.
“My classmates are so helpful,” he says. “They’ll give you their notes. They’ll give you their outlines. That’s the big difference between Regent and other law schools: the people you attend law school with.”
Ryan is involved in the Child Advocacy Practicum, which is designed to develop students’ policy research, writing, and oral skills, as well as allow them to help at-risk children. The group is working to implement a local Fathering Court. In 2012, he studied abroad in Strasbourg, France, where he learned about human rights and international law.
“It was interesting to learn about what Congress and the president can do during a time of war. At the time, I had just completed an Air Force JAG internship in Florida, so the topic was very pertinent,” he says.
Following graduation, Reyes plans to serve as an Air Force JAG officer.