Byron Foote ’18 is the son of a Boston police officer, and he grew up aspiring to either enter the police academy or attend law school. In the end, he chose both, going to law school part time while serving on the force.
Two years after completing his undergraduate studies in political science, Foote took the LSAT and applied to New England Law at the same time that he submitted his application to the Boston Police Academy. When he was accepted into both programs, he postponed his enrollment at New England Law for a year while he completed his police training. After he was inducted as an officer, Foote began night classes at New England Law while patrolling the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan during the day.
Foote embraced the challenge of navigating the nuances of the law while simultaneously enforcing it and said his time at New England Law provided unique insights and powerful learning experiences for an officer on the job. “At night, I’d take courses in criminal procedure and evidence law. Then in the morning, I’d put on my uniform and see the concepts I just learned in action on the streets,” said Foote. “It was the definition of ‘hands-on learning.’ When I’d go to court to testify or present evidence, I knew what all the lawyers in the room were doing.”
Although Foote was balancing a demanding job and late nights of coursework and studying, he found himself energized by the collaborative student atmosphere at New England Law. Many of his classmates also juggled careers as well as families, and they were happy to partner on projects and share their knowledge. “Everyone worked hard and supported each other, so I never hesitated to ask a classmate—or a professor—a question.”
His desire to see—and participate in—the legal process led him to complete a clinic with Professor Caryn Mitchell-Munevar. “I worked as a student attorney on a divorce case, which required me to conduct extensive research and pore over every detail of the case,” he said. “It was a sensitive case that required me to rely on the instincts I cultivated as an officer as well as the knowledge gleaned from my legal education.” His hard work in and out of the classroom didn’t go unnoticed: Foote won the school’s Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program scholarly achievement award, awarded to students of color who maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher for three semesters.
Foote credits New England Law with providing critical insight into the legal landscape of policing. “My courses and professors gave me a greater respect for the Constitution and a deep appreciation of the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor,” he said. In an era marked by distrust between police officers and minority communities, Foote sees his legal background as an essential advantage for bridging the gap. “When I encounter people as an officer, I’m extremely conscious of their rights and make sure I clearly articulate my legal powers.”
Foote intends to eventually practice as an attorney, perhaps in criminal law. But whether as officer or attorney, he remains dedicated to a compassionate vision of service. “My mission has always been to help people. And New England Law enabled me to be a better officer and a trusted resource to the city I serve.”
To learn more about New England Law alumni, visit the Meet Our Students and Alumni page.