Devin J. Schoonmaker, a rising third-year law student at the University of North Carolina Law School, recently joined the Forrest Firm’s summer associate program. Schoonmaker earned his undergraduate degree in history at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was on the dean’s list six semesters. Schoonmaker brings to the firm his stellar academic record and a variety of extracurricular pursuits that unite his passions for history, the law, and helping people.
Schoonmaker recently spoke to the Forrest Firm blog about his background and goals for the future.
Q: What attracted you to the summer associate program at the Forrest Firm?
Devin Schoonmaker: “I met James Forrest through a mutual friend and was immediately attracted to his business model. He takes an intrepid, forward-thinking approach to the law. It takes a lot of guts to try things differently in this field. The vast majority of attorneys operate in a much more conventional world of mid-sized to large firms, and it takes a very entrepreneurial spirit to go out on your own. I really admire that about James and am excited to be a part of that.”
Q. What influenced your decision to become a lawyer?
Devin Schoonmaker: “Going to law school was always in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until I really got deep into my history major at UNC that I decided law school would be the right fit for me. I discovered a real passion for research and analysis and quickly realized that those skills translate well to practicing law. As a staff writer for the First Amendment Law Review at UNC, I’ve found that I really love immersing myself in constitutional law and am most effective when I’m acting on that passion for learning.”
Q. How did you choose UNC and the Triangle as your destination?
Devin Schoonmaker: “I have traveled to many places around the world, but my heart is in North Carolina. I grew up here and went to college in Chapel Hill—and loved it so much I stayed for law school. The Triangle has a lot to offer from both a professional standpoint and on a personal level. It’s a thriving, diverse community, where I look forward to living, working, and giving back. I could also see myself landing in Charlotte—it has many of the same positive factors in its favor, and that would be a new adventure for me as well.”
Q. What are your long-term career interests in the law?
Devin Schoonmaker: “Business law is definitely the direction I’d like to pursue. I believe in helping businesses operate within the law to protect their liability and prevent litigation. I believe that we should use our skills to protect people and businesses and help them understand the legal ramifications of their strategic decisions.
My experience working in the UNC Law Pro Bono program has certainly influenced my approach to law. I take great pride in the fact that, as attorneys, we have it written into our DNA that we take a certain amount of our time to give back to the people that have created the system in which we can perform our work and earn a good living.”
I look forward to learning from James and being affected by his innovative spirit, not only in terms of his entrepreneurism, but in the way he fosters a great sense of community in Durham and the Triangle, with his clients and others in his network of influence.”