Making My Way in Minnesota A New Lawyer on the Move

I began my studies at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in August 2017.
Having spent the summer in a prelaw program at Mitchell Hamline,
I had begun to develop relationships with my fellow students as
well as some of the faculty and staff. The school’s diversity and
inclusion practices put me at ease, and I felt totally welcome and ready
to be successful. These relationships have been my saving grace, helping
me to find a home in Minnesota where I had no previous friends or family.

Moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, from Huntsville, Alabama, to attend law
school was definitely the biggest and probably the best life decision I’ve
made thus far. However, this move has not come without some serious
adjustments. Probably the biggest adjustment I made was adapting to the
frigid winters. My first winter in St. Paul I experienced over 65 inches
of snow and January nights with average temperatures of 7 degrees. I
read somewhere that St. Paul is one of the warmest places in Minnesota.
Huntsville, Alabama, has such a different climate where in an average
winter we may see 2 inches of snow, which usually melts in a day or two.
January nightly temperatures hover around 30 to 40 degrees. My move
to Minnesota has caused me to make some serious wardrobe changes.

As an undergraduate student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa
(“Roll Tide!”),* school was just 156 miles from my home. I was able to drive
home on weekends for visits with parents and grandparents, look up a
friend or two, get a couple of home-cooked meals, and get some laundry
done. A tank of gas was usually all that was needed to take care of one of
these weekends. I’d take off after class on Friday and be home before dark.
I am now a little over 1,000 miles from home and travel takes a lot more
planning and a much bigger expense. Flying is the only practical way to
spend long weekends with my family and only if my workload permits.
I treasure these trips more than I thought possible. On a lighter note, it
has been a delight to live in a state and in close proximity to a city with
a professional football team. Nowhere in Alabama is there a professional
football team. In order to attend one of these games, I would have to travel
to Nashville, Tennessee, or Atlanta, Georgia. I quickly became a SKOL fan
in Minnesota.

Things were running smoothly and before I knew it the 3L period was upon
us. My parents had secured an event room in downtown Minneapolis for
my graduation dinner, and family and friends were making travel and hotel
accommodations to come celebrate with me. And then COVID-19 made its
presence known. In mid-March, in-person classes were cancelled and the
remainder of courses resumed remotely. Although some students returned home to their families, I remained in Minnesota to finish my studies. Graduation day was quickly approaching and it became clear that it would be devoid of the traditional pomp and circumstance we had all looked so forward to. Our ceremony was bittersweet as family and friends throughout the country tuned in to a Zoom broadcast on Facebook Live. I had also looked forward to attending other law school graduations throughout the Twin Cities to congratulate other students I had met throughout my journey in law school.

Thankfully, the coronavirus did not prevent me from networking in anticipation of my professional career as an attorney. I was fortunate to build meaningful relationships with attorneys throughout the Twin Cities. Beginning January 1, 2020, I was selected to Larson King’s Mentorship Program, which helps develop a law student from a diverse background successfully traverse obstacles in the workforce. The mentorship program created by Larson King helped me develop strong relationships with some of the attorneys at the firm as well as gain insight to the workings and caseloads of a top law firm. Work with these attorneys will help me transition from law school to a successful career as a trial attorney. Despite the impact of the coronavirus, which has frustrated the way we live our lives, we must push forward to maintain the business of conducting life in accordance with the law.

My generation of incoming lawyers will face unprecedented challenges as we join the workforce as administers of justice and equality in the era of coronavirus. The process of leaving my family and starting a career in a new state has been made easier by finding like-minded individuals who have uplifted me and assisted my transition into the workforce. I appreciate the connections I’ve made throughout my time in law school because they made a world of difference. They have made Minnesota feel more like home.

Reggie Snell
Reggie Snell is a 2020 graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law and former President of Black Law Students’ Association. He is from Huntsville, Alabama, where he graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He enjoys watching basketball, working out, and spending time with his family.
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