Jarrett Burks: 2016 Best and Brightest

Jarrett Burks

Jarrett Burks

Northwestern University, Pritzker School of Law

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate School:

  • B.A. Yale University
  • M.A. (Education) Wilmington University

Undergraduate Major and Minor: Sociology

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During Law School:

  • Managing Editor, journal of criminal law and criminology
  • President, Black Law Students Association, 2014-15
  • Teaching Assistant, Professor John Thornton, Common Law Reasoning, 2014-15
  • Co-Founder & Vice President, Street Law at Northwestern University School of Law

Where have you interned during law school?

  • 1L summer: Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young (Philadelphia)
  • 2L summer: Cravath, Swaine & Moore (New York)
  • Spring 2015: Extern in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for Judge Andrea R. Wood

What practice area will you be specializing in after graduation? I will be working in the corporate department, which includes three groups: M&A, Securities, and Banking.

Why did you choose to attend law school? My mom is a lawyer, and I always wanted to follow in her footsteps. After I graduated college, however, I taught as a 6th grade English through Teach For America in Wilmington, Delaware for three years.

After my few years in the classroom, I decided to heed the advice I’d been giving to my students, which was to always have an insatiable appetite for acquiring knowledge, and further pursued my own education by going to law school.

What was your favorite law school class?

International Team Project (ITP) Brazil: A course that’s unique to Northwestern, ITP is a student-led course in which students select legal issues in a foreign country, research them throughout the semester, and then visit the country during spring break to interview knowledgeable stakeholders on the topic. The course provides a great opportunity for student collaboration and a non-traditional learning environment.

Which attorney do you most admire? My mom, Linda Rinaldi. I have always been a huge admirer of the way she probes issues and critically analyzes situations. I have tried to emulate her approach to problem solving throughout law school and will certainly continue to do so as I begin my legal career.

What have you enjoyed most about law school? The most enjoyable aspect of law school has been the friendships and relationships I have developed with classmates, professors/administrators, and alumni. The Northwestern Law network is full of extremely talented, passionate, and inspiring people, who have been instrumental in helping me navigate law school and beyond.

What word best describes your professional brand? Enthusiastic. In my opinion, success is attainable when you infuse passion and enthusiasm into everything you do.

If you were debt free, how would you spend your first paycheck after landing your first law job? As a kid, I promised my mom that I would buy her a beach house in the Caribbean. If I were debt free, it would be a good chance to start making good on that promise (It’s still going to happen, Mom!).

“I knew I wanted to go to law school when…I knew I wanted to go to law school when I realized how much I enjoy challenging myself intellectually.

“If I didn’t go to law school, I would be…still teaching; I loved the work I was doing.

Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of continuing to work with youth throughout law school. During the Fall of 1L, two of my classmates and I chartered a Northwestern Law chapter of Streetlaw – a nonprofit organization that creates classroom and community programs that teach people law, democracy, and human rights. Our chapter sends teams of volunteering law students to Chicagoland high schools to teach basic legal concepts on a monthly basis. This year we have teams of 4-5 law students working in 14 different classrooms around the city.

Fun fact about yourself: For my soccer fans, I went to El Clasico in Madrid in 2013.

Favorite book: Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner

Favorite movie: Enemy of the State starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman

What are your hobbies? Being a sports junky (both playing and watching sports) and binge watching dramatic television series (I most recently watched Narcos on Netflix).

What made Jarrett such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2016?

“Jarrett represents the absolute best of Northwestern Law.  As president of the Black Law Students Association during the 2014-2015 school year, Jarrett ably navigated his members through an emotionally and professionally trying time in the aftermath of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner decisions, all while bringing the greater law school community together in a moving show of solidarity in the face of injustice.  Jarrett is an active participant in the law school, and in addition to serving on a journal board and working to recruit prospective students, Jarrett informally counsels and mentors his junior classmates.  Jarrett’s contributions to the law school are tremendous and while we are sad that his impending graduation means that he will leave us soon, we are confident that he will continue to serve both the legal profession and the greater community well and that our loss is society’s gain.”

Shannon P. Bartlett, J.D., M.A. 
Director |Diversity Education & Outreach
Northwestern University, Pritzker School of Law