As they prepare to graduate, several members of the Class of 2024 reflect on the interests they brought to — and the experiences and lessons they will take from — their time at Harvard Law.

Julio Quiroz Colby

Building bridges and power for immigrant communities

Julio Quiroz Colby ’24 has been advocating for immigrant rights since he was an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin, where, fluent in Spanish, he helped with translation services for asylum seekers at an immigrant and refugee legal services organization.

“I’ve always been interested in the experience of immigrants,” explains Colby. His father is Brazilian, and his mother immigrated from Mexico as a young adult and often faced discrimination in this country, he says.

Next year, as a Skadden Fellow, Colby will be building out a new practice area for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) based in Nashville. At TIRRC, he will work with Legal Director Spring Miller ’07, who herself was a Skadden Fellow in Nashville (her fellowship was at the Southern Migrant Legal Services in Tennessee, where Colby did a summer internship after his first year of law school.) TIRRC is looking to start an immigrant workers practice and to apply community organizing strategies in addressing the needs of immigrant workers, Colby says, a focus that neatly fits his goals.

Read Julio’s full story

Phoebe Kotlikoff

Growing up in Ithaca, New York, Phoebe M. Kotlikoff ’24 had somehow never heard of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which isn’t far from her hometown, let alone the U.S. Naval Academy. So, she couldn’t have imagined that just a few years later she would help make history as one of the first women to serve on a U.S. Navy submarine.

“It was the best, most incredible opportunity for a 24-year-old,” says Kotlikoff, a qualified nuclear engineer who served as a submarine officer after graduating from the Naval Academy in 2013. As a submarine tactics instructor, she supervised tactical evaluation and training of 12 submarine crews; as a division officer, she served in numerous roles including as the Damage Control Assistant, where she was responsible for all systems and equipment that support human life on the submarine.

When she first reported to sea duty aboard the U.S.S. Ohio, Kotlikoff was one of three women on a crew of 150 service members. “I was the first female officer that a lot of these sailors had ever encountered during their careers in the Navy,” she says. “I loved being able to show that I was a capable and excellent submariner, that I was tactically and technically good, and that I was a good leader.”

Read Phoebe’s full story

Nicholas Gonzalez

No business like show business — except the law

Nicholas Gonzalez found his vocation for the law through his love for acting.

A child actor who booked his first professional job at age 12, he was instantly smitten when he took part in mock trial and moot court competitions in high school. The performative part of arguing a case felt not just familiar, but alluring.

“On the set, you must be able to take direction to deliver a line in a certain way, and you must do it on the spot,” he said. “Similarly, when you are in a mock court, you have to think on your feet and perform before an audience … When we started winning our moot court competitions, that is when I started thinking, ‘Am I going to do law or am I going to do acting?’”

Encouraged by mentors and teachers who urged him to apply to law school, Gonzalez decided to go for it. Now he will be graduating from Harvard Law School this month.

Read Nicholas’ full story

Salomé Van Bunnen

‘It’s important to sing, even when it rains’

There were just four weeks until Harvard Law School’s commencement ceremony, and Salomé Van Bunnen LL.M. ’24 was more than 7,000 miles away — in East Africa. But far from regretting missing a few of her final days in Cambridge, Salomé was in Tanzania celebrating putting into practice a semester of hard work with Harvard Law’s Dispute Systems Design Clinic.

“It has been such an amazing opportunity and experience to participate in the creation of a new module on negotiation skills for an amazing all-girls school,” she says. “I am so grateful to have been able to use my time at HLS to learn practical skills, work with a wonderful team, whilst helping on a concrete project that I hope will have a lasting impact.”

She says that participating in the clinic, among other experiences as a student in Harvard’s LL.M. — or Master of Laws — program, has had a life-changing effect on her. Although alternative dispute resolution is still a growing field in her home country of Belgium, she wants to contribute to the culture change.

Read Salomé’s full story

Brenna Phillips

‘I wanted to make a difference here’

On a cool spring afternoon in the Caspersen Student Center, Brenna Phillips ’24 reflected on her choice to attend Harvard Law School. The decision meant she would be walking in “the footsteps of giants,” said the California native who worried at the time about leaving her own mark.

“I didn’t want to come to Harvard just to get a degree and leave,” said Phillips. “I wanted to make a difference here and invest in the community.”

For the past three years Phillips has invested in Harvard’s community and others beyond the campus’ gates, taking part in myriad extracurricular activities, and a range of academic endeavors focused on helping all children gain access to education.

During her time at Harvard, Phillips has been a bartender at the student center pub; a set and graphic designer and a producer for Harvard Law School Parody; chief of staff of the Harvard Black Law Students Association; a 1L section president; a member of HLS Lambda; and an Affinity Group Council Leader. And that’s just outside of class.

Read Brenna’s full story

Hayley Isenberg

A champion of the court and the Court

As a former athlete at Harvard College and a gold medalist at the 2017 Maccabiah Games, Hayley Isenberg ’24 has long been a champion on the basketball court. And last fall, as a student at Harvard Law School, she dominated a different kind of court altogether when she and her teammates won the Ames Moot Court Competition — one of the most prestigious contests of appellate brief writing and advocacy in the nation.

Although basketball and the law may seem disparate, there is one important throughline for Isenberg, who graduates this month: the importance of teamwork. “I’m proud to have been part of my team’s collective effort and success,” she says. “I think so highly of my teammates. They’re all brilliant, kind, and inspiring people.”

No doubt they think the same of Isenberg, who served as one of the team’s two oralists, successfully arguing their case before a distinguished panel of judges that included United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Isenberg, who hails from Dallas, Texas, says she was inspired to go into law from an early age by her father, a criminal defense attorney and former state district judge. “I grew up with conversations at the dinner table being about different cases, trials, and other stories from the courthouse,” she says.

Read Hayley’s full story

Celebrating the Class of 2024!

View full coverage from the festivities of the 2024 Class Day and Commencement Ceremonies at Harvard Law School.

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