Feature Stories 2019: Dionte Salvi, JD candidate '19: Student Bar Association President

Dionte Salvi, JD '19
photo credit: David Kaiser, JD candidate '19
Feature Stories 2019: Dionte Salvi, JD candidate '19: Student Bar Association President
Dionte Salvi, JD candidate '19: Student Bar Association President

As SBA president, Dionte was committed to providing the best experience possible for his classmates.

Motivated by community

I decided to study law because looking around at my neighbors, family members, and friends, I observed firsthand the obstacles that are faced in the African-American community. I hail from the not always nice city of Philadelphia, and as I grew up I saw numerous people I was close with on the wrong end of the the judicial system—most of them without anyone to advise them.

I wanted to be a person whom they could rely on, a person who made sure they were well-informed about matters of legal consequence. I determined that becoming a lawyer would be the best way to help my community.

I chose UMass Law because it represented something I hadn't experienced before, and I've never regretted that decision. UMass Law is snuggly nestled within an area of the country that is congested with law schools, yet it stands out on a pedestal of its own, and I'm glad to be joining its proud alumni.

Rewarding experience: Student Bar Association

My most rewarding experience at UMass Law has been serving as the Student Bar Association (SBA) President. This position has given me the opportunity to take the needs and desires of my colleagues and give them physical form and momentum.

With the essential help of my executive board and the SBA at large, I was able to ensure that law students are able to have an enjoyable experience. I spearheaded the organization and planning of welcome back club fairs and bar reviews, and I traveled to different cities on behalf of UMass Law and spoke about my experiences in law school. I continued the tradition of holding and hosting a Barristers' Ball that provides students, professors, and staff a night to have a good time before finals.

We were able to raise money for the victims of emergency situations and gave children stuffed animals to give them a glimmer of happiness during their times of need. We provided students with quality snacks when they needed them most. I also sent out a lot of emails; no student went uninformed.

Jessup International Moot Court Team 2019
Jessup International Moot Court Team 2019

Representing a start-up

I had a great experience in the Community Development Clinic. Though my preference is to work in litigation, the clinic exposed me to the importance of the role of transactional attorneys and showed me how much they do to help clients in need.

I had the privilege of co-representing a start-up service company with my colleague David Kaiser. Together, we were able to keep our client informed on matters of copyright registration and eventually put together a preliminary application. To be able to experience our client's success and satisfaction was a phenomenal experience and made me truly see the difference that attorneys can make in the lives of their clients.

Bonding through shared experiences

My experiences at UMass Law have impacted me greatly on both a professional and personal level. The lawyer profession is one that consumes your life and becomes part of the fiber of your being. I was unaware of the level of commitment required and was initially overwhelmed and stressed like any other law student. However, I live by a mantra that was taught to me by a former mentor: "strong people are forged in the fires of adversity."

With that resonating in the back of my mind, I powered through the initial stress of never having time for yourself and regretting every moment not spent studying. It also helped that I had people close to me, such as Krystal Gonzalez, who were from similar backgrounds and were experiencing similar stresses. I am eternally grateful to my friends for remaining in my corner.

Overall, my experiences here have sharpened my mind and developed me into a more proficient professional, as well as a person who is confident in their ability to keep moving forward.

Next steps

My post-graduation plans are simple: find something and do it because I love it, and give back to those who helped me along the way. I am very interested in being in a position where I can speak, so I'm currently looking into litigation or media law positions. My experiences with transactional law will hopefully also be useful in any business law or contract law position I may pursue. Ultimately, I aim to open my own practice.