Finding her voice

This piece first appeared on the blog of the College of Law

After being bullied for a speech impediment growing up, the idea of law school really scared Hilary Adkins. She wasn’t sure she could stand up and speak up, as lawyers are often expected to do.

Along with a fear of public speaking, Adkins also felt like her identity was entirely based on being an athlete. But when an injury put an end to her water polo career during her sophomore year of college, she needed a fresh start. She decided to face her fears and apply for law school.

After visiting the S.J. Quinney College of Law, she knew attending law school at the beautiful University of Utah campus would be the new beginning she needed.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air, being here,” she said.

Since it was a time for new beginnings in Adkins’ life, she decided to dive into student involvement. She was quickly elected to be the Student Bar Association (SBA) 1L Representative and continued to be involved throughout her three years at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, culminating with her election to SBA president for her final year at law school.

“I’ve really found my voice,” Adkins said. “I’ve always enjoyed being involved, but I’ve never been the person in charge and actually running things, and it has totally changed me. I feel like I finally found my identity.”

After seeing how student involvement had changed her life, Adkins is a strong believer that all law students should get involved in some way.

“In law school, it’s easy to just be alone in your study room or at your desk,” she said. “When you get involved, you’re able to meet your classmates, get to know faculty members and network with alums.”

Adkins also said involvement is a great way to help solidify career plans.

“You’re able to figure out what areas of law interest you, and what you’re good at or what you need help with,” she said.

As SBA president, one of Adkins’ biggest goals has been to restore the sense of community the student body had before the pandemic. She hopes to continue acting as a resource to her fellow students by representing their wants and needs to the college’s administration.

“Being able to have a say within the law school has been so empowering because I never thought in a million years I would actually be able to influence change,” she said. “It’s been cool to see ideas that I have become reality.”

Adkins attributes her many positive law school experiences to being brave enough to try something new.

“Just get out of your comfort zone, honestly, because you never know where life’s going to take you,” she said.

After graduation this spring, Adkins will be working at the law firm Kirton McConkie in downtown Salt Lake City. She is hoping to get some litigation experience in that position. She then plans to take those litigation skills to help others, improve access to justice and enact social change.