Q&A with Kluger Kaplan’s H.T. Smith Legal Studies Scholarship Recipient, Briana Harris

By September 13, 2021

Earlier this year, Kluger Kaplan, in partnership with Miami legal legend H.T. Smith, launched the scholarship for minority students in Florida, with the goal of creating more opportunities for underserved students and encouraging the legal community to take proactive steps to promote diversity and inclusion. 

A second-year student at Florida International University College of Law, Briana Harris discusses what receiving Kluger Kaplan’s inaugural scholarship means to her and how it will help her career goals:

What was your initial reaction when you learned you had been selected as the inaugural scholarship recipient?

It took a while for it to sink in; I had to pause and make sure that I heard the news correctly! It is such an honor to receive this scholarship and it reaffirmed that I am on the right path and that my hard work is paying off. When I was notified, and finally processed the news, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders because the scholarship would help me significantly with the cost of law school and eliminated the stress of finding an internship for the summer. I am so grateful to have been granted this opportunity.

Can you tell us more about your background and what made you decide to pursue a career in law?

I graduated from Vanderbilt University with my Bachelor’s in Medicine, Health, and Society with the sole intention of going to medical school. Growing up, I always told people that I wanted to be a doctor. However, during the med school application process, as I wrote my personal statement, I began to realize that patient care wasn’t the path for me, nor was it my passion. After talking with a mentor, I learned that there are so many ways, other than becoming a physician, to impact and change the healthcare system and the issues of public health. One of those ways is through the law and legal system. I came to this realization at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which further fueled my decision to apply to law school and a Master of Public Health program.

How are you hoping to intertwine your degree in Medicine, Health, and Society with your legal practice?

I know that the legal system has a strong influence on public health in many ways, including policies that affect access and quality of care. I am hoping that in my career, I will make changes to the healthcare system and create equitable access to healthcare for all people, especially minority and vulnerable populations. I am still in the early stages of both my legal and public health education, but I hope that as I get deeper in my studies, I will have a clearer image of how my interests will merge and complement each other in my career.

Is there a class you’re looking forward to in the fall semester, or any classes you particularly enjoyed this year at FIU Law, and why? 

This semester I am really looking forward to being a teaching assistant for the Legal Skills and Values course, which is also the course that I enjoyed the most this past year. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed learning how to conduct legal research and how different legal writing is from any other writing I did in the past. Since I didn’t know anything about legal research and writing, it was a bit of an adjustment at first, but I enjoyed the process of finding authorities to support my position and piecing together my argument. I am excited to guide and assist the current first-year law students in the LSV courses and give them tips from what I learned last year.

Outside of law school, do you have any favorite activities or hobbies? 

Since law school and the pandemic are both so mentally draining, my current favorite activity is watching anything on Netflix or Disney+ to unwind and escape the madness. I also enjoy crocheting and have made a few blankets, baby hats, and keychains. One of my goals is to eventually crochet myself a cardigan!