Student Spotlight: Samantha Chen ’24

What do you enjoy about being a NYU Law student?

The people, both students and staff, are my favorite aspect of NYU Law. I am surrounded by incredibly accomplished professionals who care deeply about their work and about the well-being of their students. But even more impressive are my fellow students. I am constantly meeting incredibly smart and passionate people who are also just good human beings. The students here share outlines without being asked and offer support to one another during stressful times. I am so thankful to be able to study law in such a nurturing environment. 

Samantha Chen ’24
Samantha Chen ’24

What first inspired you to pursue a career in law?

Up until sophomore year of undergrad, I thought I would be going to medical school. But the 2020 elections taught me the importance of political participation and I began to volunteer in local political campaigns and take courses in political science. My path fully shifted after taking a class called Women and the Law. It was my first time reading a casebook, thinking through legal issues, and learning about litigation strategy. I fell in love with the intellectual exercise and with the idea of being able to effectuate change. I remember, one day, sitting through an organic chemistry lecture with the casebook open in my lap, unable to put down the blazing dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby [Which raised the question of whether a company could refuse to comply with a contraceptive mandate for employee healthcare based on religious objections]. Looking back, that was the moment I knew it was time to change my career path—and I’m so glad I did.  

Valuable lessons/takeaways you’ve learned from being a student leader?

I am the first in my family to pursue law. My successes wouldn’t be possible without an incredible network of mentors. Helping other students in my roles is a constant reminder that I did not get here alone and that other students deserve the help and opportunities I was given. It always feels good to give back. I hope the next generation of first-generation students know that they can, and should, ask for help whenever possible. 

Favorite place to grab coffee or a treat before class?

The best part about living in New York City is the access to incredible food and drinks. My favorite coffee shop is Café Lyria on Crosby Street (two blocks from Hayden Hall). The shaken espresso over oat milk and Greek honey is truly the best way to caffeinate before class.