Leading Questions: Brandie Burris, 2L
A former policy director of educational nonprofits, Burris was recently elected by her peers as editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Law Review
Why did you go to Law School?
Immediately before law school, I worked as a grassroots lobbyist on education policy and had been working in education policy for several years. After my third legislative session at the state Capitol, I realized that while I deeply believed in the work I was doing, I needed to make a change. I wanted to find a new, more dynamic, career that would challenge me in new ways. A career as a litigator intrigued me. I figured, as a litigator, your cases will change, and the problems that you're solving even within a single case also change as you move through the stages of litigation. I also wanted to go to law school because, through my career, I have prioritized finding positions that allow me to support my community and tackle problems that will drive positive change for Black Americans.
Why Minnesota Law?
I grew up in Virginia and met my husband in New Orleans, but he was from the Midwest, born in St. Paul. He had always wanted to move back up to the Midwest. At first, I kind of joked with him, “What part about dating a Southerner makes you think a move to the Midwest is going to happen?” But, it did! I guess you could say, I married into the Midwest and the Twin Cities, and I found that I loved it here. I built friendships here, and I built a home here, and I've now persuaded my sister and my parents who lived in Virginia to move here, so the Twin Cities have become home to me. When I was deciding where to go to law school, the U was the dream, and I was glad that I got accepted!
In what area of law would you like to practice?
I want to be a trial lawyer, a litigator. Right now, I am very interested in consumer finance law and antitrust law. I’m currently working at a law firm that supports plaintiffs, including complex class actions in consumer and worker protection. Both of my parents worked in finance, but I never saw myself working in finance or financial law—ever! And here I am really loving it. It appeals to the nerdy part of me, but consumer protection is also a really powerful way to do good in the community, whether you're working on the plaintiffs’ side and you're trying to help people get redress and recovery, or on the defense side trying to help companies create policies that align with regulations and do right by the communities they serve. With the right values, I think there are powerful ways to help communities on either side, so that makes me really excited about that area of law.
What do you do to de-stress?
I have really been into baking bread, which I, like a lot of people, picked up over the quarantine. My family and I enjoy doing the New York Times crossword puzzle together. I love cooking and trying out new recipes. I also love watching new movies and going out on walks with my dog and daughter.
What does being a lawyer-leader mean to you?
I think being a lawyer-leader is figuring out what you're passionate about and then finding your place in that area of passion. I also think that we all hold a responsibility to do our part in making the legal profession supportive of new diverse voices.
What advice would you give others contemplating petitioning for a law journal?
I say, do it! I think, too often, students, especially students who are first-generation law students like I am, talk ourselves out of really amazing opportunities. I almost talked myself out of the petition process, and I wouldn't be in the position that I am now had I done that. Don’t count yourself out. It's really easy to feel like an imposter and to question whether you belong, but you absolutely do, and you might be happily surprised by what happens.