Amazing Students

Justin Edge

“My passion is to help others,” said Justin Edge, a law student at the University of Georgia. “I hope to create an initiative where minorities in South Georgia would have exposure to the legal profession. Growing up, I did not dream of being an attorney because there weren’t any attorneys that looked like me. I plan to pay it forward.” (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Justin Edge, a third-year UGA law student has held a prestigious summer legal internship at Chick-fil-A and introduced Charlayne Hunter-Gault at UGA’s Holmes-Hunter Lecture at UGA. Edge is committed to helping others and aims to improve minority representation in the legal profession.

Hometown: Americus

High school: Americus Sumter High School

Expected graduation: Spring 2021

Degree objective: Juris Doctor

Other degrees:
B.A., political science, concentration in American government from Morehouse College, 2016, Phi Beta Kappa

Current employment:
Currently, I am a part-time litigation clerk for Attorney Ross Massey and Alexander Shunnarah Injury Lawyers P.C. located in Athens. I handle pre-litigation matters, discovery, negotiate settlements, communicate with clients, conduct legal research and attend inspections.

Family ties to UGA:
I am the third person in my family to attend UGA. My younger cousin, Thomas Edge, graduated this past summer. My cousin, Claudia Wooten, is a senior at UGA.

Justin Edge introduces Justice Robert Benham at the 2020 Holmes-Hunter Lecture. Named in honor of Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes, the first African American students to attend the University of Georgia, the lecture was held in February. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

I chose to attend UGA because
… the School of Law is the best return-on-investment institution in the country. UGA Law provides students with a robust professional network, a strong foundation to secure premier jobs, and allows students to graduate without the burden of an unreasonable level of debt.

How is law school different than the undergraduate experience?
Law school is almost universally harder and more demanding than undergrad. The workload is heftier and there is a high dosage of stress. For instance, you will be assigned an enormous number of pages to read on a nightly basis. At times, you will be called upon to explain the information while in class. It is a frightening experience. Professors use the Socratic method to engage in an in-depth dialogue about the material. They often say that the rigors of law school are designed to prepare us for the rigors of our legal career.

Another difference is the grading system. Grades are often based on one exam. With the exception of legal research and writing courses, many law school classes don’t have graded homework, and they have few, if any, quizzes. Because there is a tight grading curve, exam day is stressful.

Justin Edge, far right, was the law school student speaker at the 2020 Holmes-Hunter Lecture, held in February. He is pictured with (from left) Alton Standifer, President Jere W. Morehead, Marilyn Holmes, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Justice Robert Benham and his wife, Nell, and Law School Dean Peter (Bo) Rutledge. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Top university highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

  • Selected as a 2020-2021 Pupil for Lumpkin Inn of Court, learning and networking opportunity for select participants in the moot court and mock trial programs.
  • Moot Court member, will be arguing in the 2021 National Moot Competition; argued in the 2020 Spong Invitational Team, quarterfinalist for Talmadge Competition; and placed in the top 32 in the Russell Competition.
  • Prosecution Clinic (2020-2021), three semester program, with two semesters interning in the Rockdale County DA’s Office.
  • 2019 Chick-fil-A summer legal intern, one of two interns selected nationwide
  • Selected as a 2020 summer associate, Smith Gambrell and Russell LLP (canceled because of COVID-19)
  • Accepted a full-time offer from Smith Gambrell and Russell LLP for post-graduate employment.
  • Selected as a 2018- 2019 Robert Benham Scholar. In 2020, I had the distinct honor of introducing the Honorable Justice Robert F. Benham as the guest speaker for the 35th Holmes-Hunter Lecture at UGA. I also had the privilege of introducing and presenting Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
  • 2018-2021 UGA Law Dean’s Ambassador.

In summer 2020, Justin Edge completed a 10-week summer legal internship with Chick-fil-A corporate. (Submitted photo)

What I learned at the Chick-fil-A internship…
In summer 2019, I completed a 10-week summer legal internship with Chick-fil-A corporate. In that capacity, I worked with in-house lawyers where I learned the complexities involved in the food and beverage industry, learned best practices to minimize legal risks in maintaining a company, and learned how to manage and develop outside counsel. The legal internship was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In particular, as a summer legal intern, I

  • drafted research proposals and memorandums; redrafted consent agreements into plain language;
  • researched compliance laws, 50-state retirement survey, 50-state survey of rest break requirements;
  • attended meetings pertaining to legal and business issues arising from all areas of Chick-fil-A (i.e., real estate deals and negotiations, and litigation disputes); and
  • assisted with helping operators comply with state mandated regulations and procedures in the workplace.

Lastly, Chick-fil-A taught me the importance of customer service and work culture. I’ve been blessed to experience many work environments in my life, but I had never experienced anything like Chick-fil-A. The hospitality culture was a first-rate experience and it had an immeasurable influence on the people around me.

Other interesting work experience:
As a teenager, I worked at a funeral home in Americus. I credit a lot of my success to this one experience. The nature of the funeral home business requires the highest levels of maturity, work ethic, discretion and dependability. Today, I use some of those same lessons each and every day. Barnum Funeral Home is the oldest black-owned funeral home in Americus.

In 2017, I served as a campaign staffer and office manager for mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms.  After a successful campaign run, Mayor Bottoms became the 60th mayor of Atlanta.

My favorite place to study is …
… the annex at the Law Library. It’s cozy and quiet.

My favorite professor is
… Andrea Dennis. In spring 2020, I took a family law course with her and I fell in love with her teaching style. I am currently taking an evidence class with her.

My favorite things to do on campus are …
… anything involved with my law school classmates Victoria Hicks and Anre’ Washington. Whenever we’re together, there is always fun and laughter.

What do I do when I have free time?
I like to chat with my parents, Michael and Linda Edge, and sister, Jasmine N. Edge. We are extremely close. On average, we talk for 90 minutes each phone call.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with
… my late grandfather, Judson Edge Sr. He died when I was younger, but his legacy lives on in my community. I would love to spend an evening with him and soak up as much wisdom as possible.

If I knew I could not fail, I would …
… run for political office. Preferably, I would run for Congress.

If money was not a consideration, I would
… love to operate a farm. Over the past two years, I have become infatuated with agriculture.

After graduation, I plan to …
… practice law at Smith Gambrell Russell in Atlanta.

Advice I would give my younger self:
Embrace failure and understand that there is a lesson behind everything — good or bad.

Justin Edge hugs Charlayne Hunter-Gault, one of the first two African American students to attend the University of Georgia in 1961. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
My passion is to help others. I was raised on faith, family and community. Therefore, I believe in giving a helping hand to my neighbor. In that vein, I hope to create an initiative where minorities in South Georgia would have exposure to the legal profession. Growing up, I did not dream of being an attorney because there weren’t any attorneys that looked like me. I plan to pay it forward.

I #CommitTo: Equality