By Candace M. Ruocco
Candace M. Ruocco is a 3L at Saint Louis University School of Law.
After being elected to her second term as Whittier Law School’s Student Bar Association (SBA) president in April, Michelle Philo won another election in August.
At the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, she was elected vice chair-SBA.
Philo says she recognizes that SBA presidents occupy important, exclusive, and demanding positions.
“There are fewer than 200 SBA presidents in the nation,” she says. “It’s a very unique role and comes with incredibly diverse responsibilities.”
During her first term as SBA president at Whittier, Philo tackled everything from addressing unfairly weighted GPA policies to planning the first Orange County Law Olympics for the four, local law schools.
Philo’s familiarity with an SBA president’s duties, strategies, and challenges gives her insight into how she can best serve the Law Student Division as vice chair-SBA. She says her vision for the position is threefold.
“First, I hope to improve communications between SBA presidents themselves,” she says, “second to improve communications between SBA presidents and the ABA; and third to generally encourage SBAs to include their school’s ABA reps within their organizations.”
During her candidate speech in Toronto, Philo’s platform focused largely on helping SBAs avoid “reinventing the wheel.”
Now, she says her biggest goal is to “encourage SBAs to document their events and share that documentation with one another.” Philo says she plans to compile a database of SBA event flyers and detailed event planning information that all SBA presidents can share and leverage.
As both a paralegal and an evening law student, Philo also brings additional specialized insight to her new position.
“Evening students have a completely different dynamic, but still richly contribute to the law school experience,” she says. “I think my work experience helps me effectively and professionally communicate and connect with all types of students, which is an essential part of my national role.”
Philo also offered three helpful tips to SBA presidents and other student leaders.
“Recognize now that this will probably be the most challenging, diplomatic year of your life,” she says. “Second, respond to your e-mails immediately. Third, and most importantly, delegate, delegate, delegate.”