Neven Abdo

Neven Abdo

The LEO Corner: Neven Abdo

Neven Abdo, a 3L student, embarked on her law school journey driven by a passion for advocacy and addressing societal inequalities. With a background in Cell Biology and Neuroscience, she merged her interests in science, health, and law. Neven's internships at MetLife and Sidley Austin honed her skills, and post-graduation, she will join Sidley Austin's patent litigation practice in New York, focusing on intellectual property in healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Why did you decide to attend law school?

My journey to law school stemmed from a desire to advocate for others and address societal issues and injustices within my community.

In undergrad, I majored in Cell Biology and Neuroscience. Although my background in Neuroscience may initially appear far distinct from the study of Jurisprudence, this background has helped me develop skills that I currently use in the study of law. Furthermore, the study of science has instilled in me a passion for problem-solving and finding innovative solutions to everyday problems. While studying Neuroscience, I grew interested in the intersection between the legal system and health. As a result, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in health systems and policy. I was introduced to the underlying inequalities that persist in healthcare despite significant advancements in medical technology. I saw this as a call to action to improve the health and well-being of my community.

As a result, I became a Rutgers Health Ambassador, ran for my town’s school board, interned at the United Nations, and volunteered in Kenya. Seeing how much of a role the law played in all these environments, I decided to attend law school to continue my journey toward advocacy. I am happy to say that my coursework in healthcare and intellectual property law has helped me merge and expand my passions for science, health, and the law.

What have you enjoyed the most about law school?

 I have enjoyed making lifelong friends and mentors. My law school friends and I have been through highs and lows together. We have supported one another through stressful times and celebrated our successes with each other. My network of law school friends who understand what I am going through and support me through it all, have been essential to my success.

I have enjoyed learning from my mentors, who have made time for me, supported me, and celebrated with me. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from amazing individuals who give freely of themselves to help others and want to see their mentees succeed and grow.

I have also found enjoyment in the personal and academic growth that came with the challenges I faced while in law school. I learned to wrestle with complex legal principles and hone my critical thinking skills. I have come to appreciate the complexity, depth, and nuances of the law. The demanding workload has helped me develop a robust work ethic and resilience. Competing in moot court and representing under-served clients in clinic has given me a taste of real-world legal scenarios and affirmed my passion for advocacy. Overall, I have found joy in embracing and overcoming the challenges of law school, using each hurdle as a stepping stone toward a fulfilling legal career.

What challenges have you overcome in law school and how did you overcome them?

Being a first-generation law student has made it difficult to navigate through law school and make decisions regarding different career paths within the field. However, I sought out mentors that helped make those decisions easier. My student mentor gave me advice about which courses to take and how to succeed in those courses. My faculty mentor helped guide me through my academics and make important career decisions. When I experienced imposter syndrome during my second semester of 1L, my mentors helped me overcome it.

Do you have mentors? How have your mentors played a role in your law school career?

I am fortunate enough to have several mentors. In law school, I have a faculty mentor and a student mentor. Outside of law school, I have multiple mentors that advise and guide me through the other areas of my life. My law school mentors have played a vital role in my law school journey. My faculty mentor has advised me on everything from where to apply for jobs to how to overcome imposter syndrome.

What internships did you have your 1L summer and 2L summer?

During 1L summer, I interned at MetLife, and during my 2L summer, I interned at Sidley Austin.

What did you learn from those summer internships?

I learned the importance of being responsive, proactive, supportive, and hardworking. The ability to respond promptly ensures effective communication in the workplace and allows for the timely resolution of issues that arise. Partners and colleagues appreciate quick responses to their emails and requests. Being proactive, showing initiative, and anticipating the needs of your colleagues and clients is important for addressing potential legal issues before they escalate. Collaborating harmoniously with colleagues is essential for pooling diverse skills, knowledge, and experience to solve legal issues. Teamwork enhances the quality of legal services that a firm provides because it facilitates the exchange of ideas, strategies, and resources. Lastly, hard work beats talent any day.

What are your plans post-graduation? What area of law will you be practicing?

I will be working at Sidley Austin in the New York office. I committed to Sidley’s patent litigation practice group. I am interested in intellectual property law, specifically the use of intellectual property in healthcare and pharmaceuticals. IP Law incentivizes individuals and companies worldwide to be innovative and produce products for the benefit of the public. It ensures that inventors are compensated for their efforts and that their work is protected against theft and fraud. This area of law makes the world a better place overall, and without it, our society would not be as advanced as it is today. I have seen the importance of IP Law in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Moreover, the effect of intellectual property can be seen in developing countries, especially when it involves accessing life-saving drugs.

How did you get your post-graduation position?

I applied for most career opportunities that were emailed to us through the school’s Office of Career Services. I also applied directly through firm websites. I applied to in-house and judicial internship opportunities as well. I researched the organizations I applied to and modified my cover letter to include information I learned about the organizations. Prior to interviews, I reviewed my resume and cover letter. I also researched the organization and my interviewers on LinkedIn and firm websites. All this leg work is essential to success.

I ultimately accepted an offer that I received through the Latino Justice Program. Latino Justice is an organization that uses and challenges laws with the purpose of creating a more equitable society. The organization fights for racial justice and aims to increase representation of minority groups in the legal field.

What advice would you give students on how to be successful in law school?

  • - Develop a strong work ethic.

  • - Believe in yourself: this is the best way to foster confidence in yourself as a student and future lawyer.

  • - Learn to set boundaries when it is necessary to prioritize studying and preparing for your courses.

  • - Establish a robust support system. Family, friends, and mentors are just as important to your success as your attentiveness to your studies.

  • - Pursue personal interests and hobbies, which will help you maintain balance and mental well-being.

  • - For those with spiritual or religious inclinations, continue those practices in law school because they will give you strength during challenging times.