Morgan Welling '23 found his path through the Albany Law School’s Pro Bono Scholars Program.
Focused on criminal law at the start of law school, he soon recognized that business law meshed with his background in math and finance. That led him to pivot and obtain an internship focused on real estate transactions, business law research, and breaches of contract.
But that interest in criminal law was still in the back of his mind. It came from a desire to people in a situation like his. As undergrad, Welling was expelled and faced a felony charge. He regrouped, moved forward, finished his degree and enrolled at Albany Law School.
Facing these diverging paths of business versus criminal law, Welling enrolled in the Pro Bono Scholars program.
The program allows students to take the bar exam in February during their final semester of study and then devote the next 12 weeks to providing pro bono legal assistance full-time through an approved field placement or clinic, typically within areas to assist people who otherwise could not access the legal system.
Welling was placed at the Schenectady County Public Defender’s Office and met real clients, heard their stories, and started making a difference.
“It has been an eye-opening experience to work directly with clients,” he said. “I came into law school with an open mind, though I did know what areas I was interested in, and this experience has shown me what I am truly passionate about.”
It all led to a job offer from the Office. Welling had found his path.
Beyond the employment clarity, the Pro Bono Scholars program has been a great way to take the concepts learned in class and put them into practice right away, Welling said. And knowing he passed the New York Bar Exam while walking the stage at Commencement isn’t a bad perk either.
“As soon as I started taking classes here, I was excited for the opportunity to get out there and take what I have learned and apply it,” he said. “This program has been a great way to do that while having the support of faculty at the law school.”
Related: Welling wrote about his experience prior to law school in a nationwide writing event during his 1L year.