Justin Bevilacqua ’22
March 14, 2022
Hometown: All over, USA — I grew up in a Navy family
Branch/MOS: U.S. Navy, Intelligence Specialist
Rank: Chief Petty Officer (E-7)
What motivated you to apply to HLS?
In the early stages of shopping for a school, I attended a law school fair with about 80 schools represented in an attempt to get a feel for what it might be like for a veteran on campus. A cordial and general welcoming theme blanketed all. Still, one conversation with an admissions officer at a top school stuck out: if I sought to attend their school, I’d bolster their veteran presence by a third. This meant to me a veteran cohort potentially one class away from nonexistence, a registrar’s office ill-versed in liaising with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and professors potentially less than eager to accommodate a drilling reservist’s needs. Coming from a list of units, most larger than all but the grandest law schools, I knew I’d be most at home with a large class size and plenty of other veterans at my side.
What concerns were on your mind when you applied to HLS?
I worried most that I adequately translated my resume and experiences to something a civilian admissions officer would view as comparable or competitive to other applicants. While copy-pasted fitreps and evaluations are surely below par, now that I’ve seen behind the curtain just a bit, I know that the HLS admissions team’s earnest interest in veteran applicants — with a bonafide specific interest in enlisted applicants — over the years, and their active work with the AFA, has cultivated institutional knowledge that allows the team to readily view the value enlisted and officers alike bring to the table.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself now?
Go for it. Don’t wait longer than you need to. It’s easy to fall into a mindset that another cycle delay could be what you need to feel comfortable enough to hit the submit button. While there are certainly cases where that may be true, my advice is to embrace that feeling, channel it to create the best possible representation of yourself as a candidate, take a breath, and send it. Future you will be thankful.
What were you concerned about after being accepted to HLS?
Following my time on active duty, I spent the remaining of my undergrad years largely treating school as a part-time gig. With a good age (and sometimes, generational) gap between myself and other undergrads, I forwent the social scene on campus and spent my time elsewhere. Coming to HLS, I thought it might be more of the same.
How has being a student at HLS addressed those concerns?
Five semesters and a bit later, this makes me laugh. The friends I’ve made here rival the connections of even my closest deployment buddies. Sure, I may not always get carded at Cambridge Common but HLS is a fit for me and I have never once felt out of place or unwelcome.
How has your military experience helped you at HLS?
Viewing 1L — as well as every finals period — as something of a short deployment has served me well, if for nothing other than to orient myself into the right mindset for a healthy, sustainable push to the finish line. In the Navy we know this as simply following the Plan of the Day and counting our days. Here, I view it as much the same: set a routine that works for you, don’t skip PT, and don’t forget there’s a whole life out there for you that doesn’t revolve around King’s Bench proclamations from the 13th Century. Boston is an amazing city — don’t forget to enjoy it while you’re here.