Family’s Life Lessons Bring Student to Law School
Inspired by his father and paternal grandfather who were policemen, Ron Beach, a second-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law, is pursuing his own career in law.
In 2019, with help from a Law School Public Interest Law Association grant, he worked as a summer intern at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in its Division of Enforcement in his hometown. He anticipates joining a law firm after graduation.
“I hope that my experience will allow me to learn models of success in the private sector and use them to help solve problems in the public sector on some level,” he said.
The Chicago native earned a bachelor’s in history from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Black Law Students Association and the Virginia Tax Review editorial board, and volunteers pro bono on behalf of PILA.
In our occasional series “Star Witness,” Beach talked about his family, a memorable chess championship and what he learned at the SEC.
Why law school?
Since my father and paternal grandfather were policemen who retired following decades of service for the Chicago Police Department, I was interested in the law for many years. As an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, I completed an internship at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Following my internship, I knew that I wanted to go to law school because I was intrigued by how the federal government and private companies addressed legal matters.
More than anything else, my father and grandfather taught me about how to respect views with which I may disagree. When I was an undergraduate student at Michigan, my father and grandfather died four years apart. But, before they passed away, they shared many stories about navigating through spaces in America as a police officer. While I do not know if they wanted me to go into a particular profession, they supported my efforts to pursue my dreams.
Tell us something about your life before law school.
Before law school, I lived and worked in the Midwest for my entire life. Aside from the five years that I spent at the University of Michigan as a student and recent graduate, I have always lived on the South Side of Chicago. I love Chicago, and especially my neighborhood — Calumet Heights.
While my maternal grandmother spent most of her life living on the South Side of Chicago, she was born on a plantation in Mississippi and attended school in Mississippi. I wanted to go to law school in the South because I was interested in learning about life in the South. Before I started law school, I read “Miracle in Mississippi: Laurence C. Jones of Piney Woods,” about a school that my grandmother attended. Now, the president of The Piney Woods School [Will L. Crossley Jr. ’01] is an African American man who graduated from UVA Law. I hoped that by going to UVA Law, I could put myself in an environment where I could create my own experiences concerning life in the South to supplement what I can read in a book.
What’s something your classmates don’t know about you?
In my first and only appearance as a member of the team that represented my high school, De La Salle Institute, at the Illinois High School Association Chess State Tournament, I earned the highest winning percentage out of everyone on my team.
Tell us about your internship at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and your interest in that field.
My internship at the Chicago Regional Office of the SEC involved two components. The first component concerned a matter involving fraudulent, unregistered securities offerings. It was a matter on which I worked throughout the entire summer. The second component involved separate writing assignments, observational opportunities and weekly training sessions. On a particularly memorable day of my internship, an African American federal judge, who is a former SEC attorney, allowed the interns to observe part of a trial and spoke with us in her chambers.
My interest in securities work was an outgrowth from my desire to intern at the SEC. Because my dad and grandfather were charged with serving and protecting the public as policemen, I was excited to intern at the SEC, where part of the mission is to protect investors. Ultimately, I developed an interest in securities work that I look forward to exploring in the future.
What’s next for you?
Next summer, I will be working for a law firm in Chicago. After graduation, I hope to work at a firm and volunteer to support inner-city communities.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.