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Justin Reyes’ biggest challenge at law school was finding his passion.
“People come to law school to be lawyers—they want to work in a law firm, they want to be a district attorney or a federal prosecutor. I didn’t want any of that,” said Reyes ’18. “I kept asking myself, ‘Why am I here?’”
Reyes wasn’t always interested in the law. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Philosophy major and English minor, Justin planned to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree and a Ph.D. to eventually teach metaphysics. Things quickly changed after being convinced by his mother, an Albany Law School alumna, to look into applying to law school.
“I was encouraged by my mom to take the LSAT, so I did,” he said.
After hearing back from Albany Law School, Reyes felt he was already too deep in the process to not give it a chance. At first, he wasn’t sure he made the right decision. But then everything suddenly clicked.
“My second semester, I almost dropped out,” he said. “I went to a
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund meeting, pitched an idea on Rhino poaching, and that was kind of my saving grace.”
Reyes is currently interning at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington D.C., a nonprofit organization focused on wildlife and habitat conservation issues. He works in the international conservation department and assists in the litigation department. His work is focused on policies related to wildlife trafficking under the Endangered Species Act, which helps protect imperiled plants and animals from extinction.
“My professors have been great about trying to help me figure out how I can make my unconventional ambitions a reality. So for that I'm really grateful,” said Reyes, expressing how inclusive and incredible the community and faculty have been for him.
“I kept asking myself, ‘Why am I here?’ ... I went to a Student Legal Animal Defense Fund meeting, pitched an idea on Rhino poaching, and that was kind of my saving grace.” Reyes is currently interning at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington D.C., a nonprofit organization focused on wildlife and habitat conservation issues.
“The faculty don’t see you as a statistic—they are invested in you as a person,” he added.
Reyes is now president of the law school's Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter. Among his other extracurricular activities, he is a fellow at the
Government Law Center; holds an executive editor position with the
Albany Law Review; and plays for the
Albany Law School men’s rugby team and the lacrosse team at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He spent his first two years of law school interning at Cordo & Co. LLC, a small lobbying firm in Albany. He also spent his 2L year as a teaching assistant for first-year Criminal Law
courses and will continue this role for Property Law this upcoming semester.
As Reyes enters his third year at Albany Law, he plans to continue to use his mentors at the school as he progresses on his own
In terms of his future, Reyes hopes to continue working to save endangered species. A dream of his is to someday work for CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an agreement between countries regulating trade between animals and plants.