When Furhawn Shah (J.D. ’19) graduated from the College of Law in May, he became the first person in his family to earn an undergraduate degree and a law degree. It’s an accomplishment he attributes to his mother, a single parent, who worked several jobs so he wouldn’t have to worry about balancing school with work. Growing up in Dunwoody, Georgia, he says that his mother’s dedication to keeping him focused on his education was the biggest influence in his life.
“The reason I push through the rough days or the hard days, is because I know the sacrifices that my mother has made,” said Shah.
His appreciation and respect for her drove him to earn an undergraduate degree in political science from GSU and pursue a law degree. While Shah was researching law schools, he says he was sold on Georgia State University after sitting in on Professor Nirej Sekhon’s criminal law class. He’d always had an interest in litigation, but was afraid of public speaking. He felt that the advocacy program would strengthen his skills and help him build confidence in front of a jury. After taking the Evidence and White-Collar Crime courses, he knew he had chosen the right school.
“Learning the intricacies of the Federal Rules of Evidence was by far the most exciting thing I have had to do for a class,” said Shah. “Instead of writing papers or reading case-law we learned how to actually apply rules to real life scenarios. Additionally, White-Collar Crime was taught by the partner I worked for, Don Samuel. That class was full of obscure rules that rule the criminal law world and were taught in an entertaining way.”
He also got a taste of being a litigator when he joined Moot Court during his second year of law school– his peers elected him president the following year. He attributes his desire to work in appellate advocacy to competing in Moot Court competitions. During his tenure on Moot Court, he had 13 wins and two losses. He won Best Brief at his Intrastate Competition and placed second overall. He also earned second-best brief at the national Thomas Tang Competition, where he came in first in the regional competition, and second nationally.
“The proudest moment of my GSU Law experience was when my partner Monica Laredo Ruiz and I received a commendation from [former Georgia] Governor Nathan Deal for our performance,” said Shah.
When he graduated in May, he and his mother saw their dream of him becoming a lawyer realized. Shah now works for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, where he had previously interned. After passing the bar he will serve as an assistant district attorney. He says that he wants to focus on domestic violence crimes because “everyone deserves to have their voices heard and have adequate representation.”
Photo caption: Shah, at right, with his Moot Court teammates.
Written by Cat Gavrilidis