CSU Cleveland Marshall College of Law students Joseph Nelson Jr. and Michael Watkins have taken similar paths during their time in law school. Nelson and Watkins are both enrolled in the CSU C|M|LAW dual degree program, seeking joint J.D./M.B.A degrees. Both are active members of CSU C|M|LAW’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA). The duo's paths will now parallel even further as Watkins is succeeding Nelson as Editor-in-Chief of the Global Business Law Review (GBLR).
Nelson, a fourth-year law/business student graduating this spring, served as GBLR Editor-in-Chief in 2019-20 and learned that communication is key to leading an organization. While a member of the GBLR, he published a note, “Targeted Advertisements on Social Media: An Age-Old Practice in a New Suit,” that analyzed the Facebook advertisement platform.
Watkins has been an associate on the Global Business Law Review for the past year, and wrote a note focused on renewable energy, “Ohio’s Multifaceted Attack on Wind Energy.” As Editor-in-Chief he intends to grow the number of members on the journal, increase alumni contact, increase the platforms for selected publications and raise the reputation and visibility of the journal.
Nelson cherishes the opportunity to serve as a mentor and intends to continue to be a mentor for current students such as Watkins as well as for future law students. He fondly recalls the guidance he received throughout his time in law school, much of which was provided through his membership in BLSA.
“Throughout law school, I learned that BLSA is much more than just an organization—it is like a family,” Nelson said. “Some of my closest friends are members of BLSA. We celebrate holidays together and we provide support whenever a member is in need.”
His interest in mentoring others is par for the course for Nelson, who has known from an early age that he wanted to pursue a career in which he would help people. However, it was not until he took an Introduction to Law course by happenstance during his junior year at the University of Mount Union that he saw the dramatic positive impact he could have on people’s lives through the law.
Nelson enrolled in the J.D./M.B.A dual degree program because he believes business education corresponding with legal practice offers a clear pathway to success. He has built upon the foundational learning in law and business by engaging in a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities. Nelson has served as a law clerk with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, a law clerk with the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio, and a Legal Extern to the Honorable Solomon Oliver with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. He has also worked as a law clerk at Fisher Phillips, LLP and a Research Assistant for Professor Heidi Gorovitz Robertson.
During his second and third years of law school, Nelson participated as an oral advocate in BLSA’s Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition. He believes the competition helped improve his public speaking, oral advocacy and writing skills. This year, he participated in a managerial capacity as Regional Director of the Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition.
“Each of these experiences provided me with valuable skills that will help me become a better attorney,” said Nelson.
Upon graduation, Nelson intends to secure a judicial clerkship with the U.S. District Court or the Eighth District Court of Appeals. Ultimately, he would like to join an area law firm and has an interest in real estate.
While Nelson did not consider law school until later in his undergraduate studies, Watkins’ interest in the law dates back to high school when he attended Shaw High School in East Cleveland, Ohio, and took part in the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA) 3Rs Program.
Watkins went on to enroll in the CMBA’s Louis Stokes Scholars Pipeline Program and chose to attend CSU C|M|LAW because of the relationships he built participating in the 3Rs and Louis Stokes Scholars Programs.
“The attorneys I met (participating in the CMBA programs) were passionate about their work, gave back to their communities, and stayed connected to Cleveland-Marshall,” Watkins said. I learned from those attorneys the importance of networking, building positive professional relationships and how to prepare for the rigorous studies of law school. I knew after meeting these people that I wanted to follow their path with my life.”
Watkins built relationships with several mentors participating in the CMBA programs and serves as a mentor himself. Between graduating from the University of Toledo and starting law school, he worked as a College Preparation Coach and a middle school English and Language Arts instructor. While in law school, he serves as a Prevention Specialist with the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, where he teaches 4-6th grade scholars social emotional wellness, drug and alcohol prevention, anti-bullying and gun safety.
“I greatly enjoy returning to my hometown of East Cleveland and connecting with youth who I share a similar background with,” Watkins explained. “I use the similarities in our upbringing to connect and grow with the youth in our classroom.”
Studying in the J.D./M.B.A. program has allowed Watkins to given strong educational base and he believe the dual degree will broaden employment possibilities in his field of choice – environmental law.