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2023-2024 SBA President Haley Pennington (’24) Recognizes Involvement as the Key to Success

Though Haley Pennington (’24) always had a desire to become a lawyer, she began her career as a professional concert dancer and marketing coordinator for a dancewear company. She now considers her unconventional background a major factor as to why she got into law school. “During the application process, a lot of people told me to suppress my dance career,” she remembers, “but I highlighted it, and a lot of people viewed it positively." She considers this an important lesson for aspiring and current law students.  "Law school is full of very different people with very different backgrounds. Embrace those differences; it definitely helped me.”

Pennington was particularly attracted to DePaul because “every time I called to ask questions, they were warm and welcoming, and the school provided a great environment for first generation law students like me.”  She also knew that getting involved would be the key to her ultimate success. “I was never going to be number one in the class, so I decided to set myself apart by getting involved with various organizations.”  

Early on, she recognized the importance of the Student Bar Association (SBA), especially after hearing the inspirational speech given by the then SBA president during her 1L orientation. For Pennington, becoming SBA president was "something I’ve worked towards since my first day of law school, and seeing it come to fruition has been very rewarding.” She also served on the Student Government Association and is now an editor for the DePaul Law Review, where she looks forward to mentoring the 2L staff. 

As the 2023-2024 SBA president, Pennington plans to better unify the student organizations, streamline communications and make it easier for everyone to be involved. She also will continue popular SBA events, such as 1L Week, SBA Week, Mental Health Week, Diversity Week and exercises classes. She also hopes to make bringing therapists, nutritionists and other resources to the law school a more regular occurrence.   

To Pennington, becoming a bigger part of the community helps combat how difficult law school can be. Being involved with organizations allows students to be around others who fully understand what they are going through, and they can become resources.  "Lean on each other and you’ll all be better off for it," says Pennington. She also credits her involvement for providing her with ample networking opportunities and improving her academic performance.  

After law school, Pennington aspires to pursue a career in government and public policy with a focus on criminal law and prison reform. To that end, she has worked for both federal and state prosecutors in order to obtain real world experience. She explains, “I value understanding the system before trying to change the system. I want to see it first-hand, and then figure out how to change it