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Roadmap: Championing student interests

Kareem Carryl always knew he was interested in law. The child of Caribbean immigrants, Kareem grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and after graduating from high school he participated in the highly selective J.P. Morgan Smart Start Program, which is a four year full-tuition scholarship and internship program.

While attending Columbia University, Kareem worked full time at J.P. Morgan during his summers and part time during the school year while balancing his responsibilities as a member of the Columbia College Student Council, including his role as Senior Class President. After graduating from Columbia in 2015 with a degree in economics and before enrolling at HLS, Kareem worked in the Asset and Wealth Management division at J.P. Morgan.

The best thing that [the Board of Student Advisers] can do as an organization is to be a part of the community that we are serving. And I think by having an amazing collective of people involved in so many activities, so many student groups, so many career paths, ranging from public interest to working in a law firm, making sure that we sort of run that sort of spectrum, I think it’s something that’s really important to our mission.

Kareem Carryl ’22

1L

When Kareem enrolled at Harvard Law in the fall of 2019, the Board of Student Advisers (BSA) quickly became his community. Founded in 1910, the BSA is a student organization charged with providing several essential services to the Harvard Law School community: serving as teaching assistants in the First Year Legal Research and Writing Program; as peer advisers to members of the first-year class and transfer students; and as administrators of the Ames Moot Court competition. The BSA’s members have included such legal luminaries as retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ’61, Judge Reena Raggi ’76 for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and U.S. Representative Anthony Brown ’92 (D-MD). Like the Harvard Law Review and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the BSA is a highly selective organization that consists of 42 second- and third-year students.

“I attribute my happiness and survival during my 1L year in large part to the BSA that I was assigned as soon as I came in,” he says. “Her name was Alexis Alvarez. She graduated class of ’21. She just helped me navigate the space and understand what it means to be a student here, from ‘where’s this classroom’ to how to study and think about legal research and writing. Her guidance and mentorship and her constantly checking in with me gave me that feeling of a support system. And she also opened me up to the richness of this community by shepherding me through it a little bit.”

His experience working with Alvarez and the BSA also transformed how he would spend his subsequent years as a law student.

“I knew pretty early on that I wanted to recreate that experience for another student that’s coming in and is feeling a little nervous or anxious,” he says. “The first year of law school is a pretty stressful time. If, as a BSA, I can make that person’s life a little bit easier, I want to do that.”

During his 1L year, he was also a member of the Black Law Students Association, the Harvard Business Law Review, the Prison Legal Assistance Project and he served as co-treasurer of the 1L Section Committee.

Summer

He spent his 1L summer working as a law clerk in the Office of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, in Washington, D.C. During his time there, he worked with the Senator’s Committee on the Judiciary team on issues related to the impacts of COVID-19, police use of force, racial justice, and price gouging.

2L

During his 2L, he was also a member of the Voting Rights Litigation and Advocacy Clinic, where, in connection with the clinic, Kareem worked with When We All Vote, a national, nonpartisan voting rights organization created by Former First Lady Michelle Obama ’88.

He was a teaching fellow for Lecturer in Law Jacob Bronsther, in connection with the Board of Student Advisors and the First-Year Legal Research and Writing Program, and he served as a research assistant for Bronsther and Lecturer in Law Guha Krishnamurthi.

For his 2L and 3L years, he served as a Civil Procedure Teaching Fellow for Professor William Rubenstein.

He continued his involvement with the Black Law Students Association, and the Harvard Business Law Review.

During his 2L year, Kareem was elected to serve as BSA president for his 3L year. Archives suggest he is the first Black man elected president of the organization, and as such, he highlights the importance of ensuring that all voices from across the school’s diverse student body are represented.

“I think that it’s imperative that we look like the student body,” he says. “The best thing that we can do as an organization is to be a part of the community that we are serving. And I think by having an amazing collective of people involved in so many activities, so many student groups, so many career paths, ranging from public interest to working in a law firm, making sure that we sort of run that sort of spectrum, I think it’s something that’s really important to our mission.”

“Because,” he adds, “representation matters.”

Summer

Kareem spent his 2L summer working as a summer associate at Covington & Burling.

3L

As BSA president, Kareem served as the primary liaison between the board and the law school on all BSA-related matters. He worked for the HLS community across a wide range of issues and was a voice for the student community. He was involved in the search for the new dean of students. He was also lauded for seamlessly leading the board through its return to campus after nearly two years of online instruction, and his peers credited his advocacy for special student resources and additional training for BSA members in matters of diversity, inclusion, and mental health and wellness to help meet the additional challenges students faced.

Kareem also served as the principal teaching assistant to Climenko Fellow Daniel Francis in the First-Year Legal Research and Writing Program. Francis said Kareem was “a strikingly generous mentor” to 1Ls, spending countless hours counseling and advising students on issues from career planning to self-care.

At graduation, Kareem was recognized as the 2022 recipient of the Frank Righeimer Jr. Prize for his leadership as BSA president and for his academic mentorship, guiding 1L students through the First-Year Legal Research and Writing Program.

Post HLS

After graduation, Kareem joined Covington & Burling as a Litigation and Investigations Associate. Among the matters he works on, he intends to focus on the firm’s Institutional Culture and Social Responsibility practice area.

Outside of the office, Kareem plans to enter into community work in New York City.