Karol Corbin Walker, Shareholder and Litigation Attorney at LeClairRyan, has achieved a number of “firsts” in her career as an attorney. She was the first African American woman to obtain partner status at a major New Jersey law firm; the first African American president of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NASBA) in 2003-2004, and the first African American appointed Chair of NJSBA’s prestigious Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee.
As she puts it, she likes “stepping into uncharted waters and finding a way to make things happen so the doors can be opened for others.”
Had it not been for the Legal Education Opportunities (LEO) program, it is unlikely any of that would have taken place. While she did well in college, earning good grades and graduating with honors, she struggled with standardized testing and her LSAT score was not quite up to par. Seton Hall Law, however, recognized her potential and enrolled her in the LEO program. Established in 1977, LEO provides students who do not meet established law school standards, but who are motivated to succeed, with the opportunity to study law.
“Seton Hall University School of Law and the LEO program provided me with the ability to garner an excellent legal foundation,” says Corbin Walker. “This framework enabled me to make significant contributions to the legal and bar association community in New Jersey. I will always be grateful to those in the LEO program who took a chance, and saw in me a potential not recognized by the traditional law school matrix.”
As a litigation attorney, Corbin Walker maintains an active trial calendar and has argued numerous cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Appellate Division, and has mediated many cases for the United States District Court. In 2003, she was recognized by NJBIZ as one of New Jersey’s top 25 “Women of Influence.” She has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” by Law & Politics and New Jersey Monthly since 2005, and listed in the Best Lawyers of America since 2006.
This year, her firm at the urging of Shareholder James A. Kosch, a 1981 graduate of Seton Hall Law, made a $25,000 pledge to the Seton Hall Law Rising campaign to establish the LeClairRyan LEO Scholarship.
"Karol went through the program and look at all that she has accomplished,” said Kosch. “We believe that the LEO program is an important program and one that we want to take part in so others can succeed.” For Corbin Walker there never was any question about succeeding. Her parents placed a major emphasis on education and doing well in school. Not only was it a message spoken at home, but one modeled by her mother, Jeanette Corbin, who graduated in 1980 with her daughter from what is now New Jersey City University. An assistant teacher in Jersey City, where Corbin Walker grew up, her mother was determined to receive her bachelor’s degree in education.
Grateful for the opportunity she was given to attend law school, Corbin Walker devotes a significant portion of her time to helping others and assisting the law school. She and her husband, Paul Walker, participate in just about every major alumni event; she regularly mentors students and young lawyers, and remains actively involved with the LEO program.
“Had it not been for Seton Hall Law choosing me as LEO student, I would not have had the opportunity to pursue my passion,” she says. “For that I will always be grateful. I’m proud to be lawyer both because it’s a noble profession and one where you have many opportunities to do good for so many people.”
The law school, as part of the Seton Hall Law Rising campaign, is seeking to establish an endowment for the LEO program to ensure scholarship support for future generations of students. To learn more about the program or to make a contribution, please contact Andrea DeChellis, Development Officer, at 973.642.8092 or email@example.com.