A Conversation with Nicky A. Boothe, Esq., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs – Florida A&M University College of Law
(The second in a series of profiles of FAMU Law Faculty, Leadership, and Program Directors)
Interviewer: How would you describe campus life at FAMU Law and what can students expect in the classroom?
Assoc. Dean: Campus life at FAMU Law is a vibrant, energetic law school community. It has a lot of diverse opportunities for students to be involved in different organizations. There are a lot of interactions between faculty and students, which is not always common in a law school community. And, in class, students can expect to learn, to be enlightened, and most definitely, be challenged … Be challenged in their views and be challenged in the way they think. The goal is to teach them as you hear in all law schools – to think like a lawyer.
Interviewer: To think like a lawyer? Yes. And who better to be able to let people know what it’s like to think like a lawyer than a lawyer? You were a lawyer for a while before coming to FAMU Law. What has been your greatest challenge in the field of law, and as a woman lawyer?
Assoc. Dean: I graduated from law school in ‘94 and I practiced Insurance Defense for a decade. Then, I came to academia, and I had the opportunity, the benefit, and the blessing to practice law in a legal community. The greatest challenge hasn’t really changed: the greatest challenge is actually navigating through the space of the legal community as a woman and a black woman. It comes with its own challenges, navigating through the world in that way. But when you are talking about a predominately white male dominated profession, it comes with other challenges. People tend to take grace for weakness and silence for spinelessness, and I am a very thoughtful and observant person. So, I don’t always speak first. But those challenges can be overcome, and I would like to think that I have overcome many of them really through preparation and through competencies that can’t be ignored. So, although they are challenges, they are not obstacles and they are not firm challenges to be overcome but there is an awareness of these challenges.
Interviewer: What is something people don’t know about you that you would like to share?
Assoc. Dean: I’m an extroverted person, which only few of my colleagues may know. When I’m doing work, I’m all about work. I also relish moments to be still and mindful. It’s actually one of the things I try to teach my law students, to be mindful of their thoughts and what they’re doing to help make them more effective lawyers.
Interviewer: What has been the highlight of your career?
Assoc. Dean: Well, the highlight of my entire legal career is actually coming here because this is the only place that I have ever taught. It was not in the plans to be a professor, but the transitions to academia, to have the opportunity to impact the lives of students –the next generation lawyers –has been the highlight of my career.
Interviewer: Can you tell me what the College of Law brand represents to you and how you see it evolving into something new?
Assoc. Dean: I came to the College of Law two years after it was re-established. So, I’ve seen my FAMUly here, I would like to call it, go through a lot of ups and downs. We have faced a lot of hurdles and I’m happy to say that we have overcome them. And, yes there are going to be more hurdles in the future. But the College of Law brand represents to me more than what FAMU Law represents. Excellence with caring is how I see the brand evolving.
Interviewer: What advice would you give to today’s law school grad?
Assoc. Dean: Well, the moment students come to law school I tell them they are lawyers! I start treating them like lawyers and tell them to be serious about their legal careers from the day they enter those doors. If they are blessed to be a member of a graduating class from the FAMU College of Law, I tell them to know with confidence that they have the skills and they have the abilities to go out and make absolutely radical change in the community and in the world.
Interviewer: What would you like your legacy to be and what are you currently doing to make that happen?
Assoc. Dean: The legacy I would want to leave is to impact, influence and inspire the next generation of lawyers – particularly those that are minority, whether they are gender minorities or racial minorities.
Interviewer: Is there anything else you would like to share that you might not have already?
Assoc. Dean: To be a member of FAMU Law is really a unique and beautiful thing to have the opportunity to do. It’s not always roses and peaches but it’s a tremendous opportunity to invest in ourselves and in our communities. And, so I would welcome anyone who is thinking about law school to really consider FAMU College of Law. Anyone, who is thinking about helping a law school, should consider the FAMU Law College of Law. Anyone who is thinking about doing something in this community, should think about the FAMU College of Law.