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The University of Washington School of Law

The University of Washington School of Law

Bank Robber To The Bar

 
If you are a sucker for second chance stories, buckle up. In 1997 and 1998, Shon Hopwood was hard at work. His work was robbing five banks in Nebraska.
Hopwood served 12 years in prison—and just graduated from the University of Washington School of Law. Being a fly on the wall during his closed-door character and fitness assessment by the Washington State Bar Association would have been priceless. It is not often a convicted felon is in that place in life.
Not only did Hopwood get the support form the Bar, he got unanimous support to sit for the exam. Obviously others with questionable pasts have attempted to sit for bar exams, but not many have gone on to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court. And many think Hopwood will do just that if the bar goes well. Hopwood is currently clerking for a District of Columbia federal appeals court judge. And it is going well. Friends of Hopwood think he will apply, and the judge he is clerking for (Judge Janice Rodgers Brown) has sent at least five of her former clerks for clerkships with the Supreme Court since 2005.
In 2002, Hopwood drafted a petition for the Fellers v. United States case that led to a 9-0 victory for a fellow inmate. He studied and practiced law as much as he could while serving his sentence. Additionally, two years out of prison, he was recruited by a professor from Washington to attend. Hopwood was named the Gates public service scholar while at Washington. And now his support is coming from all angles. Washington Dean Kellye Testy testified in front of the bar committee for Hopwood. As did a professor and a Seattle federal public defender.
Hopwood truly is a second-chance story. Sometimes the most difficult experiences in our lives are the ones that push us into relevance and meaning.
Source: The National Law Journal

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