Greyhound Grad Joseph Gergel is making an impact in law school. He was recently elected to the prestigious role of editor-in-chief for volume 37 of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy.
He started the position on Feb. 4, 2022, and will continue until a time period after his graduation, around May/June 2023.
The former student regent was born and raised in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a double major in political science and criminal justice and a minor in legal studies in May 2020.
Joseph discusses his Eastern Experience and law school journey.
How were you selected as editor-in-chief of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy?
Our Journal held an election for candidates of editor-in-chief on Feb. 4. After I gave my speech and answered questions (then my opponent doing the same), I was subsequently elected by my peers on the Journal. This Journal has about 65–70 members.
Notre Dame Law School has a total of five journals. The journal I am on—Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy—is the largest journal with about 65–70 members and is one of two print publication journals (Notre Dame Law Review is the other print journal). The other two journals are solely online publications.
What are your duties?
Once I was elected, I immediately began the process of appointing fellow Journal members to positions within our Journal for the upcoming 37th volume (2022–2023 volume).
Most generally, I have "editing" based duties and "logistics" based duties. For editing, I conduct final "executive edits" on legal scholarship we decide to publish (submitted by practitioners, judges, professors, etc.).
I coordinate and communicate with the authors and make sure all of our deadlines are being met. I also work with all of our members of the Journal to make sure our responsibilities are being followed through with.
Logistics-based duties include appointing positions for our upcoming volume; leading and checking in regularly with the members of our Journal; setting goals for each position based on my vision of the Journal (why I was elected); and working with the other journals at Notre Dame.
What does it mean to you to be named editor-in-chief?
I am so humbled to be elected by my peers to serve as editor-in-chief of this Journal, and I do not take the position lightly. I'm even more lucky to have a team of law students who are among the smartest people I know. I know our team will continue our Journal on its positive trajectory and publish great legal scholarship.
Tell us about your law school experience.
I could not imagine going to any other undergraduate institution other than ENMU. The same is true of Notre Dame Law School. Like ENMU, Notre Dame Law is a tight-knit community, professors here are among the humblest people I've known and my class sizes are generally small. Overall, my 2L class is only about 150 students.
This semester I will be finished with my second year of law school. The difficulty of law school is certainly no stereotype, and it is a huge adjustment from undergraduate work. However, I have honestly never learned so much. So far, my favorite classes have been Contract Law, Federal Courts, Evidence, and any class taught by Professor Gerard Bradley (Constitutional Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law II).
As of now, my general focus area is federal law, with an eye towards federal criminal prosecution.
What are your short- and long-term career goals?
My short-term career goals are to graduate from law school and go back to New Mexico to practice either in a private firm or attain a federal clerkship. This summer, I will be a summer associate with a private firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico: Modrall Sperling.
My longer-term career goals are to become a federal prosecutor (assistant United States attorney) either in the District of New Mexico or elsewhere in the Tenth Circuit (either New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming).
Why did you choose to attend ENMU?
For many reasons. First, I fully intended on going to New Mexico Tech to pursue engineering; however, at the last minute, I withdrew my acceptance.
Then, I immediately applied to the only other school I would want to attend: ENMU. My sister, Rachel, was attending ENMU [and graduated in 2019] so that was already a plus.
Second, I appreciated Eastern's small class sizes, close community and wonderful campus.
Third, my sister and I have always had great experiences at Eastern during our initial visits, so I knew Eastern was the place for me.
How did you choose your field of study?
I began with only criminal justice, aiming to pursue a career with the FBI. However, I began taking more political science-based classes and loved it. Naturally, that led me to be seriously interested in law school.
Discuss your experience at ENMU.
Overall, I am incredibly appreciative of the people I was able to get to know at ENMU—all of whom had an important impact on my professional life.
One thing I most enjoyed was leading our Student Government's Lobbying team and successfully receiving thousands of dollars from the State to install Emergency Blue-Light Camera systems around campus.
My favorite professors include Dr. Brust, Dr. Acheson-Brown, Dr. Greene, Dr. Waldo and Dr. Camarillo. Even though I was not an English major, I greatly enjoyed Dr. Donohue's World Literature class.
Which activities were you involved in at ENMU? Academic honors?
From 2019 to 2021, I was unbelievably fortunate to have been appointed to the ENMU Board of Regents—serving with Regents Terry Othick, Dan Patterson, Lance Pyle and Ed Tatum.
For organizations, I was in the Student Government Association (SGA) from spring 2017 to spring 2019.
I began SGA as attorney general, became the coordinator for the 2018 Eastern in Action, was the coordinator for our lobbying team, unsuccessfully ran for student body president against Kat Bigham, then served as a student senator until appointed as a Regent.
I am incredibly indebted to SGA for the mentorship, leadership and experiences I was given.
I was involved in the ENMU Pre-Law Club from spring 2017 to spring 2020.
Our pre-law club was a small group over the three years; however, I was joined by some of ENMU's most successful students: Taylor Brooks (went to law school in Idaho); Jennifer Martinez (graduating Marquette law school this semester); Luke Bussen (second-year law student at University of Oklahoma law school); and Hannah Stout (working with the federal government).
I was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity from 2017 to 2019. I resigned to give more dedication to school, student government and eventually the Board of Regents.
I worked a student job in the Office of the President from 2016 to 2018. I was fortunate to work with two wonderful individuals in that office: Deborah Bentley and Karen Van Ruiten.
I served as a peer mentor for the Chase Foundation from 2019 to 2020. I was a mentor to about 12 freshmen ENMU students.
I was a dean's list honoree and was a member of various honor societies.
How did ENMU prepare you for law school?
ENMU helped me prepare for law school in two big ways: in the classroom and outside the classroom.
First, in the classroom, I learned the importance of prioritizing academics above all else (otherwise, why am I at college?), learning how to take notes and read effectively and developing my passions for law.
Second, outside the classroom, Eastern provided me with numerous opportunities to be involved with organizations. In this way, I was able to grow my leadership skills, learn how to be part of a team, communicate effectively, balance responsibilities and serve my community and University.
Overall, my out-of-classroom involvements helped me prepare for life in general by teaching me things the classroom cannot directly teach you: leadership.
What advice would you give to a student interested in working in attending law school?
Most generally, you should love (or learn to love) reading and writing. In law school, you will not start reading the fun "landmark" Supreme Court cases. Instead, all I read my first year consisted of state court cases involving contracts, torts and property law. So, you should be willing and able to read tedious materials.
To get into law school, two things are of utmost importance: GPA and LSAT score. I would advise absolutely prioritizing academics as an undergraduate because the reality is that most students applying to law school will have impressive GPAs.
The LSAT is tricky. I would advise studying for the LSAT (via LSAT study books) at least one year before the application process. That way, you can learn the basics of the LSAT format, take as many practice tests as you can, learn from mistakes and, if needed, retake the LSAT (as I did).
The reality is that most students applying to law schools have high GPAs and good LSAT scores. When I was working on my application, I assumed this fact. So, it is even more important to "stand out" during the application process since high GPAs and high LSAT scores are the norm. I recommend "standing out" by holding leadership positions and being involved in organizations.
Tell us about your accomplishments and awards.
My greatest accomplishments are graduating from ENMU in 2020 and getting accepted to Notre Dame Law School in 2020.
Who is your role model?
I don't have a role model per se; however, I have many people who are or have been important to my life who I look up to. Of course, my parents, who have worked incredibly hard their whole life to give my sister and me a wonderful life.
At Eastern, someone I greatly looked up to was Chief Brad Mauldin, who I met my freshman year at ENMU in his criminal justice class. Chief was and is an important mentor to me not only during my time in Student Government but continuing through to my other leadership roles. I would not be the same student, leader or team member without Chief Mauldin's mentorship.
Are you involved with any organizations or causes?
Here at Notre Dame, I am mostly involved in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy and, during my first year, I was involved with the Notre Dame Law School's Federalist Society.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy hiking, painting, leathercrafting and walking around Eastern's campus and Notre Dame's campus.
Is there any additional information you would like to have included?
If there are any ENMU students interested in law school, I would be more than happy to connect on LinkedIn: Joseph Gergel.
Joseph with the Student Government Association lobbying team: Kat Bigham, Adilene Adame and Luke Bussen.