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Benjamin Campos 2017

Prospective students, particularly non-traditional ones, often ask whether it is possible to strike a manageable work-life balance while in law school. Third-year student Ben Campos has made that possibility a reality over the past two years. In addition to his commitments as a part-time law student, Ben is also a husband, father, and full-time law enforcement officer in New Jersey. Ben took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his path to practice.

“The decision to go to law school was spurred by my work as a law enforcement officer,” Ben says. “I would see examples in which individuals couldn’t effectively obtain a lawyer, or they had one who was so overworked it was difficult to provide sufficient services.”

Ben explains that the relationship between his in-class and real-world experiences is a mutually beneficial one, especially with respect to the criminal, constitutional, and prisoners’ rights issues he encounters as a public servant. “I have seen what actually happens in the system,” Ben says, “not just what should happen based on legal theory. I have had the opportunity to see some of the benefits, and many of the shortfalls, in our legal system and with that, ways that good lawyers can help fill the gaps.”

In addition to the insight he is able to contribute to class discussions, Ben says that his law school education has already positively impacted his job performance. “My legal training has significantly increased the quality of my report writing, preparation of complaints, and ability to work with court staff,” Ben explains. “I can collaborate on a much higher level with court clerks and prosecutors, and my courtroom testimony has improved.”

Although Ben plans to practice in the area of criminal defense after graduation, he says labor law has also emerged as an area of interest. “As a union member,” Ben notes, “I have seen many examples of labor unions and individual workers in need of representation against employers."

Ben pursued this interest with a position in Pace’s burgeoning Neighborhood Justice Clinic. He describes his participation in administrative court trials as a highlight. “Besides the general excitement of representing clients in an actual court,” Ben says, “helping those truly in need—like those fighting for unemployment benefits—was something that was humbling and inspirational.”