Rusty Duncan (3rd Quarter, 2007)

3rd Quarter, 2007
Law School Scholarship Winner
Rusty Duncan

“I am from Greenville, SC and a current second year student at Campbell University School of Law in Buies Creek, NC. I obtained an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina. Before starting law school I obtained a Paralegal degree at Greenville Technical College and worked as a paralegal for a short time.

I hope to use my law degree to help others. I have a great interest in family law and employment law and have found from my school and work experiences that people really need the help of an attorney when family and employment law issues arise. I feel I can use the my personal experience as well as my professional expertise to bring an unique point of view to any legal situation and in turn help people deal with their legal problems as well as the personal issues that arise from taking or defending legal action.”

A Portion of Rusty’s Winning Essay:

Rusty Duncan

Since I was a young boy I have been fascinated with the law; and I have always wanted to be a lawyer. I remember watching law shows on television as a youngster and thinking “This is what I want to do.” I was glued to Court TV during the O.J. Simpson trial, taking in everything I could about it. Being a lawyer and being in the courtroom looked like fun to me. However, as I grew older, I realized that I wanted to be a lawyer for a different reason, to help people.

When I was in middle school my parents separated, leading to a lengthy and unpleasant separation and divorce. This was a very trying and painful time for me, my three younger siblings, and my mother (with whom we stayed). This experience was very traumatic for my entire family. I had to grow up and mature very quickly as I had to take on many responsibilities at home, including helping raise my three younger siblings. Being a good role model to them helped me develop good leadership qualities.

During this time I felt that we (me, my mom, and my siblings) were all on our own. I felt that no one cared about us outside of a very few close family members and friends. Our lawyer was there to help us obtain, from my father, the financial support necessary to survive. Since that time I have wanted to become a family lawyer and help people who are in situations similar to mine. I feel that as a family lawyer I would bring a compassion and understanding to clients who are in similar situations. As a result of my experiences, I will be able to connect with the families who come to me for assistance and be able to help them through their trying situations.

The tough family situation affected my academics during my first year of college. I had to step up and take a large amount of responsibility at home when my parents divorced. It was very hard on me to leave and go to school. I felt guilty for leaving my family and responsibilities. Even though my mother insisted I go to school and make a better life for myself, I still was worried and stressed about things at home my whole first year and my grades showed it. I failed two classes that year and that hurt my grade point average a good bit. The bad grades also cost me my hard earned scholarship and forced me to take out student loans and work 20-30 hours a week to finance my education and get by, another stressor.

After that first year, I decided that I could not waste the opportunity to get an education and became determined to improve my grades. Over my final three years at USC my grades rose steadily each semester. Going through those tough times made me a strong, motivated, and mature person. After that experience I am determined to make the best life I can for myself.

I feel that my background has prepared me to handle anything, even the rigors of law school. I have tried to prepare myself as best I can for a career in law. I received a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina in May of 2005. During my four years at USC I worked in two different law firms as a runner. I worked for Leath, Bouch, & Crawford my first two years and I worked for The Law Offices of Mark W. Hardee my last two years. I was responsible for general office duties, preparing court chronologies, running errands (which included several courts on a regular basis), and some document production. Those four years gave me valuable insight into how a law firm runs and what the roles, responsibilities, life and workload of a lawyer are like.

I am currently obtaining a paralegal Associates degree from Greenville Technical College (an ABA approved program). I am learning valuable things such as how to do legal research, legal terminology, and gaining a better understanding of how the law works. This will no doubt help me in law school and in a law career.

I feel that I will succeed in law school because of my determination to do well in everything. My life experiences, my strong will, my passion for the law, my good study habits and my privilege of being able to work with and learn about the law all make me a strong candidate to be a successful law student. I am also a good listener and am able to solve problems quickly. All of these traits, in addition to making a strong law school student, are essential to being a good leader, which a lawyer has to be.

One major weakness that I am constantly working on is shyness. I feel that being shy will be a detriment to me in law school and especially as a lawyer. Another glaring weakness that I possess is that I have a hard time trusting other people, which developed as a result of my experiences growing up. These two weaknesses make me wary of working in groups, which is a big detriment in law school where study groups are often essential to success. Neither of these attributes will serve me well in law school or as a lawyer. I am trying hard to overcome these shortcomings by making efforts to meet new people.

One way I am doing this is delivering meals to the less fortunate through Meals on Wheels of Greenville, SC twice a week. I also help with the United Way of Greenville, SC periodically on various projects; this also gives me a chance to work on my weaknesses. By volunteering, in addition to helping me overcome my fears, I am able to give back to the community, which is something I believe very strongly in. It is still very difficult for me to trust people until I get to know them and that may never change; all I can do is work on it and try my best to get past my trepidation. It is a slow process but I feel that I am making progress to overcome my weaknesses. The Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law is very attractive to me. They offer exactly what I want in a law school.

Having grown up in a Southern Baptist church, the main draw for me is the Baptist affiliation of Campbell. Campbell is not too far from home (Greenville, SC), where I still have close family ties. The school is also located near the Research Triangle Park, which offers easy access to an urban area while still enjoying the quiet rural atmosphere of a small town. Campbell offers on campus housing for law students, something that I am very interested in. The class sizes are small, which can only make the educational experience better.

I visited Campbell last year for an interview and was very impressed with the campus, the area, and especially Kivett Hall and Wiggins Hall. I also was very impressed with the two courtrooms on campus. I very much like the fact that students are required to participate in an appellate argument and a mock trial; these offer a chance to learn what cannot be learned through classroom instruction alone. Campbell has many more required courses than most other law schools; this ensures that students are well rounded in the law upon graduation. I want to be a family lawyer and the juvenile justice mediation project offered by Campbell would be a very valuable experience for me.

Campbell also offers a law office management course, which should be offered at every law school in the country. The Summer Performance-Based Admission Program shows that Campbell is committed to giving applicants a fair chance at gaining admission. Campbell also has a strong career services program to help students and graduates find jobs throughout the country.

The law is my passion and I feel I would be an excellent lawyer. My life experiences have made me tough, determined, strong, and mature; excellent qualities in a lawyer. I have a solid background in the law with my education and work experiences. I want to be a lawyer to help people and be able to one day provide my wife and kids with a better life than I had growing up. I hope to start my journey to a successful law career at Campbell.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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