The Journey: Damion Robbs
When Damion Robbs accepts his degree at Commencement, the moment will be the culmination of a nearly two-decade long journey.
“Law was always the goal,” he said. “When I graduated, I applied to law school and then wait-listed. So, I got a job and started working, money started to come in. I was moving up in my career and I decided to just continue to work. I was sitting on it (law school).”
But his wife, his best friend, even the vice president of the company Robbs was employed at, pushed him out of his comfort zone.
They all started prodding him and asking questions he didn’t have answers for.
“My VP came in my office and asked me, ‘when are you going to law school?’” he said. “He knew this was something I always wanted to do.”
His wife pushed, maybe you should follow your dream.
“My best friend — and best man at my wedding – was an attorney,” said Robbs. “He forced me to do it.”
Tired of hearing what he knew he should do, Robbs said he stopped making excuses, and after 13 years of being out of school, he applied to law school at the Charleston School of Law.
“It’s never the right time, but you just got to do it,” he said. “In the Fall of 2019 I was here. The rest is history.”
But there is more to the story. Robbs emphasized the importance of the student community that led to his success. From Day One, he dug in and took advantage of the resources at his fingertips.
“The open-door policy has been phenomenal for me,” he said. “I made myself go and introduce myself to the professors. Everyone was so receptive and helpful.”
Robbs, a Gaffney, South Carolina native, arrived at Charleston Law with a world of business knowledge. His professional resume included work in sales/marketing, business development, governmental affairs, public affairs, and consultancy. But he was short on legal experience.
Charleston Law professor Katie McElveen (’07) recognized Robbs strengths and weaknesses and she went to work on honing him to be a skilled legal writer.
“Professor McElveen was my rock,” said Robbs. “She knew I’d been out of school for 13 years and I had been focused primarily on the business world. She literally took the time out of her day and schedule to ensure that I became a better legal writer. No matter how long it took me to get it, no matter how many drafts or redrafts, she’s been there.”
Robbs took his gifts beyond the classroom, piling up pro bono hours serving the community, gaining experience as an extern at local law firms and pouring into student organizations on campus.
“Everything that I got involved in — from student organizations, externships, even the pro bono work — it all had an emphasis on the community, and impacted the lives of people in our community,” he said.
Robbs’ resume now reads like a laundry list of service: Black Law Students Association (president), Women in Law (member), Student Bar Association (SBA), Latino Society, Phi Delta Phi (PDP), Trial Advocacy Board (TAB), and externships at Charleston County School District, Southeastern Freight, and the Mediation Center of Charleston.
His heart to help others in need is the very definition of “pro bono populi” (serving the greater good), the mission of Charleston School of Law.
It’s an life skills education he learned watching his mother when he was a boy. “She would take busloads and busloads of students from our hometown to colleges so they could see what was possible,” said Robbs. “If you’ve never seen it, how could you dream to be it? Watching the lives that she touched and the people that have flourished because she took the time after realizing a need in our community, it was infectious.”
While Robbs anxiously waits for the Commencement ceremony, he continues to squeeze every ounce of joy of the experience. He has hung his graduation regalia on the closest door in his bedroom.
“Every morning I peek at it,” he confessed. “It reminds me of the times my great-grandmother would be watching Matlock or Perry Mason and she would tell this little kid with big dreams, ‘you can be a lawyer if you want to.’ To see it brings out a lot of emotion because you know that you didn’t just do it alone. There are a lot of people – a lot of people — that have a hand in this.”
The Charleston School of Law will host its Spring 2022 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14 at the McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel. Doors to the auditorium will open at 12:30 p.m. with the ceremony starting at 2:00 p.m. The Citadel is located on 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston. A reception to follow the commencement ceremony on Summerall Field.
CHARLESTON SCHOOL OF LAW QUICK FACTS
The Charleston School of Law is an ABA-accredited law school nationally recognized for its student-centric culture. Our faculty and staff are committed to preparing you for success both in the classroom and in the legal profession.
- The Princeton Review ranks Charleston School of Law professors second in the country for faculty accessibility (2021)
- Charleston School of Law faculty ranked among the top of The Princeton Review’s list of Best Professors in the nation (2016-2018)
- Experiential Learning: Charleston School of Law students have access to about more than 150 externship sites, creating opportunities for experiential learning in the legal field.
- Community Service: Charleston School of Law students have performed more than 241,000 community service hours (2004-current).
- Students have won the National Tax Moot Court Championship for seven consecutive years (2012-2018)
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The following was originally published by the South Carolina chapter for the Association of Corporate Counsel.