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Meet the newly elected ABA Law Student Division officers

Thomas Kim and Meredith Parnell
Thomas Kim (left) and Meredith Parnell

You, the voter, have spoken – spring council elections are over, and the results are in!

The ABA’s Law Student Division would like to introduce Thomas E. Kim as the 2017-2018 Division Chair and Meredith Parnell as the 2017-2018 Law Student At-Large on the ABA Board of Governors.

Thomas is a rising 3L at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and currently serves at the Secretary-Treasurer of the ABA Law Student Division. Additionally, he is the chair of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and a legal aide at the Homeless Legal Assistance Project. He is a full-merit scholar who has held numerous leadership positions throughout his collegiate career. He is a passionate immigration rights activist and will head to his hometown of Portland, Ore. to work as a summer associate with Davis Wright Tremaine this summer.

Meredith is also a rising 3L at Harvard Law School, where she has served as Harvard Law’s ABA representative and liaison to the Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR) during her 1L year. As an ABA rep, she recruited over 350 new students to join the ABA, which earned her the most points in the Rep Rewards Program. While involved in CPR, she moderated nationally broadcast webinars on professionalism issues and participated in the CPR’s Diversity Committee. She has more than a decade of experience working with public interest non-profit organizations at the executive level. This summer, she will work with Crowell & Moring in Washington D.C. as a summer associate.

Here’s what Thomas and Meredith have planned for the rest of 2017 and 2018.

Q: What are your goals for the year as you take office?

Thomas KimThomas: My goal for the year is rather simple – it is to advocate for issues that actually matter to law students of America. In achieving that goal, I will continue and expand the DREAM initiative established by my predecessor, Kareem Aref. “D” is for diversity. We will seek increased accessibility to law schools for underrepresented communities in this least diverse profession of law. “R” is for real-world training and skills. We will work hard so that all law students can be ready to practice law immediately upon graduation. “E” is for educational cost. An affordable legal education is necessary. “A” is for accountability. With a revamped method of streamlined communication directly to my board, our division will become more accountable and relevant than ever, to all law students. “M” is for mental health. My team will work hard for all law students across this nation.

Meredith ParnellMeredith: I join Law Student Division Chair-Elect Thomas Kim and share in the primary goal of advocating for issues that matter to all law students and strengthening the connection between law students and the Board of Governors. The Student At-Large position on the Board of Governors is fundamentally about communication and advocacy. I want to make sure that the Board of Governors is aware of and invested in the Law Student Division’s activities and vice versa. I want to help organize the Law Student Division membership and leaders to support measures that affect law students within the ABA. I want to find ways to communicate about the ABA’s important governance issues to law student members more generally, and as a strategy for building student leadership in the ABA.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most as you take office?

Thomas: I’m very excited that our Law Student Division will soon become a hub for substantive policy drafting and advocacy work. And I’m even more excited that I will have a dream team to achieve that – Meredith brings a decade of superb advocacy experience leading public interest organizations. My team will bring about policy changes that tangibly benefit and protect law students of America.

Meredith: As I take office, I am very much looking forward to driving the Board of Governors’ campaign to expand law student membership and deepen students’ level of leadership and engagement with the ABA. It’s important to constantly evaluate how the ABA’s two-tier free and premium student membership structure is working. I’ll look for ways to deepen students’ involvement with the Law Student Division and with ABA entities. I want to work with ABA leaders to continue to sweeten the ABA Premium Student Membership package. Every law student should know about the ABA’s work and have an opportunity to get involved.

Q: What can your peers expect from you in this position?

Thomas: All law students of America can expect me to be accessible and accountable. The State of the Division reports will be created to be pushed to all members on a quarterly basis. Law students and law schools across the nation will learn what exactly my team and I are working on today for our division. Also, for the first time, students will have a streamlined method of getting their legislation ideas, concerns, and comments to us. In addition to my experience and leadership skills, my constituents can also look forward to my enthusiasm and determination.

Meredith: I again join Chair-Elect Thomas Kim’s commitment to accessibility and accountability. I believe that it is important to put in the upfront time, listening and working with other law students and ABA leaders, to fully understand the nuances of an issue before slipping the switch to zealous advocacy. I believe in addressing long-term structural issues as much as possible. As a board member of several public interest organizations, I have experience developing and advocating for initiatives, hitting deadlines, being held accountable for tasks that I take on, and holding others accountable.

Both officers will serve a term from current through 2018.  Stay tuned for what’s to come this year!

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ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.