Keisha Mello-Hall '16 (JD)

Keisha Mello-Hall on campus at USD School of Law

USD's strong sense of community

"USD is the place to go to if they are looking for a great support system to help get them through law school. There is a strong sense of community here among the students and staff, which has made this experience more enjoyable."

Legal interests: Criminal law, specifically defense.
Bachelor's degree: BA in Political Science, San Diego State University, 2013.
Hometown: Manteca, Calif.
Dream job: Working in the Juvenile Delinquency branch of the San Diego Public Defender’s Office.

  1. Q: When did you decide to pursue a law degree?
    A: I was pretty young when I decided to pursue a law career. Growing up, I had multiple teachers tell me I should be a lawyer because I loved  reading, writing, and debating in class. I knew I wanted to pursue criminal law specifically after I studied criminology during undergrad.
  2. Q: Why did you choose USD School of Law?
    A: I wanted to be in San Diego because I liked that the legal community here was so tight-knit. The idea of job-hunting in San Diego seemed less daunting compared to other areas in California. When I visited USD, everyone seemed very welcoming and supportive, so I knew this kind of environment would lessen some of the stress of law school.
  3. Q: What surprised you the most about law school?
    A: The environment that drew me in was what surprised me the most. I had heard horror stories about how competitive and isolating law schools could be. However, the staff at USD is incredibly supportive. I was expecting the professors to be more like Kingsfield from the Paper Chase. I was also surprised by how much the students help each other. From my own personal experience, I mostly see students compete with themselves, instead of each other.
  4. Q: How hard is law school? Is it more or less work than you thought?
    A: The beginning of law school was hard, because I had to adjust to classes that were teaching me to think analytically. I was used to always having clear right answers and wrong ones, so letting go of that was difficult at first. After adjusting to that though, the effort that I had to put in was exactly what I thought it would be.
  5. Q: What is some of your previous professional experience? How did that experience help you decide to go to law school?
    A: I did not have any professional experience before coming to law school. However, it was my non-professional experience that helped me decide to go to law school. My first job was at Hollywood Video when I was in high school. It never felt like a job to me, because I love movies. I realized that whatever career path I took, it needed to feed my genuine interest and curiosity. Pursuing a career in criminal law was an easy decision for me, because learning about the criminal field does not feel like work to me.
  6. Q: What advice would you give to a prospective student? What things might you have done differently?
    A: I would tell them to remember that their classes should be their first (and truly only) priority during that first year. I wish I wouldn’t have worried about my resume and internship prospects during 1L. This only added unnecessary stress, because there isn’t much students can do until after 1L.
  7. Q: What activities do you participate in at USD School of Law?
    A: I am currently interning at the Public Defender’s Office, and I interned at the District Attorney’s Office last semester. Last summer, I started researching for Professor Ramirez, which is great because I get to learn more about criminal law and procedure. I also compete in mock trial tournaments for our National Trial Team.
  8. Q: What is the best thing that has happened to you here at law school?
    A: The best thing that has happened to me would probably be when I was placed with the Common Misdemeanor Unit in the Public Defender’s Office last summer. I had only finished one year of law school, but I was in court and on the record every day. I got my first glimpse of what life would be like as an attorney, and I could not have asked for a better first internship. 
  9. Q: How was the admissions process to USD School of Law? Was it more or less involved than you anticipated?
    A: The admissions process was actually simple because many USD alums reached out to me, and answered my questions about the school. Coming from such a large public school, I was not expecting how personable the whole process would be. As for the application itself, it was not any more or less involved than I was expecting.