Glynis Gilio on becoming a Constitutional Lawyer

Read all about a fierce woman ready to take on the Supreme Court!

When I first met Glynis Gilio during a two month study abroad in London, England, I knew there was something so special about her. She is incredibly driven, intelligent, and always bursting with energy and positivity- all qualities that I know will serve here well as a future Constitutional lawyer. To take you through her journey to becoming a lawyer, here is Glynis herself!


Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 4.02.45 PMGlynis! Tell the blog community a little bit about yourself!

I’m currently in my final year of law school at Michigan State University College of Law. My legal studies specialize in constitutional litigation, specifically First Amendment free speech and political speech issues. In addition to my classes, I am the Vice President of our student government, the Student Bar Association, a competitive member of the Trademark Moot Court team, a student-member of MSU Law’s Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute, and a performing member of MSU Law’s Musical Theatre Law Revue. In my free time, I love to paint, travel, spend time with my five-year-old shih tzu-pekingese mix Pepper, sing, dance, act, and obsess over all things Real Housewives. 

When did you first become interested in law and what interests you most about becoming a lawyer?

Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 5.50.33 PMMy path to the legal profession is very atypical. Prior to attending law school, I was a professional actress for almost a decade. I had the opportunity to travel all over the country for various acting engagements on film and onstage. I loved my work, but I was advised by many actors, who knew that I was an impressionable young girl, that being a full-time actor is hard work. It often results in long periods of unemployment, struggles to pay the bills. I knew of a very successful actress in Chicago who lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her fiancé and two other couples. Many of my mentors impressed upon me that if being an actress was the only thing that I knew I wanted to do, or could do, then I should pursue that. But if I knew that I could use my passions or talents elsewhere, I should pursue other avenues.

I began to examine what I loved doing the most. I loved reading, writing, working collaboratively, and telling great stories. A family friend suggested law school and expressed his belief that I would be a great lawyer. I initially laughed at the thought. I didn’t feel as though I was smart enough to take the LSAT, let alone get into a law school or pass the bar. But I felt a call in my heart to pursue this avenue, and I’m glad I followed that call. 

Why did you choose to specialize in constitutional law and what do you believe is the most important deciding factor in choosing a legal specialization?

I’ve studied constitutional theory and history for the vast majority of my life. The Constitution was the centerpiece of my undergraduate studies. I’ve always been taught to have a great amount of respect for the Constitution and its founding. Constitutional questions have always fascinated me the most. Constitutional legal questions also often have the greatest consequences hanging in the balance. Equal protection and substantive due process questions can have life changing effects upon so many people’s lives. Constitutional law is influential, consequential, and often very provocative. Who wouldn’t want to work in that space? 

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I believe, and perhaps this is because of my music and theatre background, that there is a rhythm to every area of the law. A rhythm to family law, a rhythm to environmental law, a rhythm to the IRS tax code, etc. You have to find which rhythm you can follow along with. Very often, it may not be just one area of the law. For instance, although I have a strong passion for constitutional law, I also love intellectual property law. I think it is also helpful to get practice experience in whatever specialization you’re interested in. I’ve been fortunate to work at various public interest law firms, so I have the practical experience in constitutional litigation to know that this is what I want to do. 

Have your internship experiences helped shape your perspective and interest in law and, if so, how?

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Law school is all about the theoretical, and internship experiences are about the practical. Internship experiences give you insight into the nuances of the practice of law that you would never receive in law school classes. Oftentimes I feel that working with attorneys can either turn people off to the practice of law or reaffirm their desire to be a part of that community. For me, it has certainly done that latter. During my time at Freedom Foundation, for example, I have had the opportunity to write an amicus brief for the Supreme Court. The fact that I get to know that the Supreme Court Justices are going to read my work. That is such an exciting prospect that I can’t help but feel motivated to continue working to refine my skills. The opportunities, and new perspectives, that internship experiences can provide are invaluable, and they have certainly helped me to get closer to becoming the attorney that I want to be. 

What is the most valuable professional advice someone has given to you and what is a piece of advice you would give to someone interested in studying law?

Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 5.50.48 PMI think the most valuable professional advice that I’ve been given is to be unapologetic in the pursuit of your career goals. Oftentimes, people who are just starting out can feel like it’s annoying or bothersome to send follow up emails or cold emails about job opportunities. I was encouraged to disregard those hesitations because the reward is often so much greater than the potential fear that someone reading an email may feel bothered or annoyed. This has been the best advice I could have received because I have reaped nothing but beneficial results from being bold. I secured my first internship during law school from a cold email to a fellow college alumni. I’ve even had prospective employers thank me for follow-up emails because my initial email got buried in their inbox. This approach really puts the “be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams” mentality into action.

My advice to anyone interested in studying law is do not go to law school unless you know that you want to be an attorney. I say many of my friends and classmates struggle during their first year of law school because they decided to go to law school in the hopes of becoming something other than an attorney. Many people decide to go to law school because they couldn’t think of anything else that they wanted to do after working for a few years. Law school rigorously trains you to become a lawyer. If you feel called to become a politician, teacher, cop, or anything else, law school is probably not the right path for you. This should come as no surprise, but law school is a very stressful experience. What motivated me to push through the stress is because I knew that at the end of all of it, and after hopefully passing the bar exam, I would become a lawyer. If you don’t want to be a lawyer, the stress will be doubled or tripled because you will be constantly questioning why you subjected yourself to that experience. So my advice is to think long and hard about whether you want to become a lawyer before applying to law school. 

When you become a practicing constitutional lawyer, what is one thing you are looking forward to?

I am looking forward to interacting with my clients. That is an experience that you rarely ever get during your law school experience. Especially in the constitutional law arena, the majority of the time clients have emotionally compelling stories. As a people-person I’m really looking forward to having one-on-one time with my client. Nobody ever wants to have to call their lawyer. Being a lawyer is about knowing how to help people during the worst situations in their lives. There has to be a level of sensitivity there. That is why it is so important to form strong, dependable relationships with your clients so that they know they can count on you to get them through their personally challenging time. 

What impact do you hope to make in the legal profession?

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One day I hope to give an oral argument at the podium of the Supreme Court. I want my career to support the efforts to protect individual liberties against government infringement, support a limited, transparent government, and safeguard the cherished tradition in our country of preserving liberty and justice for all. There are ever-growing threats to citizens’ individual liberties and so many legal questions that remain unsolved. These are the very questions that I want my work to address. 

What about the future excites you as a law student and future lawyer?

The practice of law changes so quickly. Over the past year, there have been so many changes from remote working to virtually giving oral arguments. This is something that the legal profession has had to rapidly acclimate to. The traditional brick-and-mortar law firms may be obsolete in the next decade. There are so many new possibilities in terms of where the practice of law could go, and I’m excited to ride that wave.

 

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