James Nortey, II
James Nortey, II graduated from Baylor with a BA in Philosophy in 2008. He then attended Harvard Law School, and after his graduation in 2011, received his MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas in 2015. Mr. Nortey is an Associate at Duggins Wren Mann & Romero, LLP. His practice includes commercial litigation, commercial transactions, administrative law, and energy matters. Mr. Nortey provides legal, business, and policy solutions to clients in regulatory proceedings before state agencies in Texas.
What is your best advice to current pre-law students about the LSAT, law school applications, and undergraduate work as a pre-law student?
I would recommend taking as many critical thinking and analytical writing courses as possible. Although speech communication courses are also important, 90% of what most law students (and lawyers) do is read and write. It is important to become comfortable reading dense texts and writing with accuracy, brevity, clarity, and simplicity. Additionally, by taking rigorous courses, law school applicants can distinguish themselves from the competition.
I’d also recommend taking a commercial LSAT prep course (more so for the discipline to prepare for the LSAT), applying to at least 7 law schools (two reach schools, three schools in your GPA/LSAT range, and 2 safety schools). The best way to prepare for the 3.5 hour LSAT is to practice with previous LSAT exams. The LSAT is just as much an endurance test as it is an aptitude test.
How would you advise recent graduates who are about to enter law school?
I would advise recent graduates to see law school as a 9-5 job, more so than extended college education. The first year of law school can be intense and I found it helpful to have a strong work-life balance. This is a nuanced point. On one hand, one has to be completely committed to putting in the necessary work to keep up with class discussions, to study cases before class, and to prepare for exams. On the other hand, it is important to find a few outlets for balance such as one or two (but no more) extracurricular activities.
When you were at Baylor, what activities, clubs or internships helped you in your application process to law school?
Applying for competitive scholarships, such as the Truman Scholarship, helped me lay the groundwork for my law school applications because I had to give considerable time and effort into explaining my passions and why I wanted to be a lawyer. I was fortunate to participate in several internships, including working with the Waco Police Department, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. I think being a participant in the Honors College and writing a Senior Honors Thesis helped me a great deal as well. I also was involved in the Model United Nations Club and as a Community Leader (RA).
What are three books that have significantly impacted your life and work?
The three books that have had the most impact on my life and work are the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (a historical collection of tried and tested axioms about the struggle for power), Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (a great literary novel about overcoming personal and social struggles which takes place in 19th century France), and my all-time favorite The Republic by Plato (a lengthy dialogue on how to create just people and societies).
How does your faith factor into your work as a lawyer? How would you encourage Christian pre-law students to enter the field of law and law school?
My faith factors into my work by driving my values. I am most encouraged by the values I learned through my Christian experience. Humility, Diligence, Excellence, Fellowship, Magnanimity, Service, and Courage aren’t just abstract moral concepts, but they are each a way of life. These Christian values help support my work as a lawyer by allowing me to put my faith in action through legal service. Whether it is by taking pro bono cases to help those without financial resources, or volunteering my time and energy as a community activist, I can my legal skills both inside and outside the office. I would encourage pre-law students to develop a values-based ethos that undergirds their legal training and helps them explore their respective callings as attorneys.
How did you get to where you are now? What is the key to succeeding as a lawyer and maintaining one’s Christian faith amidst the politics and competition?
Among other adages, Baylor taught me these two: (1) The Kingdom of God is built on relationships; and (2) Life is a stewardship for service. Almost all of my success has come from the assistance of others or in trying to assist others. By continuing to prioritize the needs of others, I found myself and my place in this world.