‘Admissible’ S4 E3: Law School Love Story

Crystal Shin and Jordan McKay
February 14, 2024

UVA Law faculty members Crystal Shin ’10 and Jordan McKay ’10 met as first-year law students in 2007. A friendship formed in Property class eventually blossomed into romance, but an ACC basketball rivalry soon threatened to derail their relationship. Tune in to learn how they overcame a first date that felt more like a direct examination, months of long distance, and opposing careers in prosecution and defense.


NATALIE BLAZER: So your engagement anniversary is coming up.

JORDAN MCKAY: Well, yeah, because I guess the Super Bowl got pushed back now, they added an extra week. So it's February 5.

NATALIE BLAZER: That's today.

JORDAN MCKAY: That is today.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Oh my god.


I'll be honest, I didn't remember the date of the proposal.

NATALIE BLAZER: Oh my god. Wow.

JORDAN MCKAY: I should have played that off like, yeah, I know. So you can edit that, and we'll just edit it to be going like, I know.


NATALIE BLAZER: This is Admissible. I'm Natalie Blazer, Dean of Admissions at UVA Law. I am so excited to bring you today's episode. I've been wanting to do this type of interview for a long time. Anyone who's a careful listener of the show will have picked up on the fact that today's topic has always been in the background of some of our shows, and that topic is love.

So today in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm bringing love from the background of the show to the foreground to the spotlight. You'll notice we're even breaking out of our usual Friday release schedule to bring you this episode on Valentine's Day. Now, whether you're a fan of this holiday or really can't stand it, neither here nor there, because February 14 is really just my excuse to bring you a great love story. And who doesn't love that?

So that's exactly what today's show is, a real bona fide law school love story. Having said all that, I am thrilled and really honored to introduce my guests today, two distinguished UVA Law professors, who not only are married to each other and teaching here at the law school, but in fact, they met here at UVA Law as law students. It does not get more lovable than that, and I cannot wait to share their story.

My first guest, Crystal Shin is a professor and the Director of the Holistic Youth Defense Clinic and teaches courses on juvenile justice and public service lawyering. She joined the law school in 2017 and served as the first full-time faculty director of the program in law and public service from 2017 to 2020.

Crystal was previously a clinical assistant professor at William & Mary Law School, where she directed the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic. Under her supervision, law students provided free legal representation to children with disabilities and their families.

Before joining William & Mary, she was a legal aid attorney. In that role, she provided legal representation to children and families in the areas of special education, school discipline, juvenile justice, and immigration. During that time, she supervised law students in the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Prior to law school, Crystal taught fourth grade in Henderson, North Carolina through the Teach for America program. Her students served as her inspiration and motivation to attend law school. She received her BA and JD from the University of Virginia, where she was the 2010 recipient of the Margaret G Hyde Award. Crystal's legal aid work began through the Powell Fellowship, a post-graduate fellowship offered by UVA Law to help recipients provide legal services to indigent and underserved clients.

Joining Crystal is her husband and law school classmate, Jordan McKay. Jordan teaches trial advocacy at the law school as an adjunct professor. He is also currently an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Virginia. He has also served as a state prosecutor.

Prior to his transition to public service, Jordan was an associate at MichieHamlett in the firm's commercial litigation group. Jordan also clerked for Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. of the DC Superior Court in Washington D.C, where he was exposed to various areas of family and civil law. Jordan graduated cum laude with a BA in history from Amherst College and received his law degree from the University of Virginia.

While in law school, Jordan was an Executive Editor of The Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law-- me too, and a member of the Black Law Student Association's national champion mock trial team. Wow, Crystal and Jordan, both UVA Law class of 2010, which means we overlapped by one year at the law school, very exciting. I am honored to have you on the show today. Welcome, my first married couple joining me in the studio. This is very exciting.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Thank you for having us.

JORDAN MCKAY: Thank you.

NATALIE BLAZER: So I'm going to start with an icebreaker. What is your favorite restaurant in Charlottesville?

CRYSTAL SHIN: Oh, there's so many. I feel like our new favorite restaurant is Botanical Fare, the vegan place downtown.


JORDAN MCKAY: Which is surprising because I'm not a vegan.

CRYSTAL SHIN: But he loves the food there. Our favorite fancy restaurants are probably Zocalo and Conmole.


NATALIE BLAZER: And Zocalo has like nostalgia factor, at least for law school for me. I don't about guys, but yeah. It has just been around forever.

JORDAN MCKAY: But I never ate there as a student.

CRYSTAL SHIN: I wasn't fancy enough to eat there as a law student.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, we'd go to the bar.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, now that I say that, I think the only time I went there as a student was like a firm recruiting event. I couldn't afford to eat there either.

OK, so as mentioned in your bios, Crystal, you came to law school after teaching for a few years. Jordan, you came straight through from undergrad. I want to just start with a little bit about your law school application journey. What do you remember about the process? Pretty much all of our listeners are going through this. So what was that process like, and how did you ultimately end up at UVA?

CRYSTAL SHIN: I was always interested in law school as an undergraduate student here, but I am a first generation college student and professional student. So I didn't any lawyers and didn't receive any recommendations from folks about law school. But I was doing Teach for America in North Carolina and super busy, lesson planning, grading, just prepping things for my students. And I just didn't have the time to really research law schools.

And because I had gone to UVA as an undergrad, that was a no brainer. And my reasoning behind that was I know where the grocery store is, I know friends there, so I've built in roommates. And so that was really the reason why I applied.

I only applied to UVA and one other school and was deciding between the two. And my father, who didn't go to college, who was a blue collar worker, when he learned that I was considering the lower ranked school because I had received a very generous scholarship, he told me like, no, you're going to UVA because you're not going to get a job if you go to this much lower ranked school.

And it turned out he was absolutely right because we graduated during the recession, and it was hard for recent grads to find jobs, for 3Ls to find jobs. And so that's how I ended up at UVA Law.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, great advice from dad. How about you, Jordan?

JORDAN MCKAY: I knew that I wanted to go to law school and be a lawyer back in high school. The school that I went to, they would have these elective courses. And I did one called-- I think it was called the rule of law or introduction to law. And it was taught by a former assistant Commonwealth attorney in Martinsville, Virginia, who ended up becoming a criminal defense attorney. And from that point, I knew I want to go to law school.

And I was also-- I was a history major in college and I just saw the law's impact in major historical events. So I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. And so with respect to the law school application process, at Amherst we had-- I don't know if it was a career center or what it was called, but they had a list of law schools that were highly ranked for this area of law or that area of law.

And I was interested in constitutional law but then had no idea what that really meant. And I saw that UVA was top in that list. But I went to a high school, small private high school in Martinsville, Virginia, and I had a lot of former classmates who went to UVA for undergrad. And I just thought that that was too close to home. But my mother kept saying like, oh, no, you need to apply to UVA. You need to apply to UVA. And it was because they had a good family friend who went to UVA.

CRYSTAL SHIN: He's one of the first Black graduates of the law school.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, Robert Williams. And he was a good friend of theirs, and my mom was like, no, you need to apply. You need to apply. And so I finally just applied so--

CRYSTAL SHIN: To appease your mom.

JORDAN MCKAY: --so she would stop bothering me about it. And then, yeah, a couple months later, I got just a small envelope from UVA. And I thought, oh, it's a rejection letter because usually, the acceptance letters came in bigger envelopes.

Yeah, so I almost threw it away. I almost just recycled it right away, but I was like, it's not going to kill me. Let me just read it. And so I opened it up and yeah, I got in. And there was a little return card I needed to send in if I was going to accept it. And so yeah.

NATALIE BLAZER: I love the role that the parents played in this, right? OK, so 2007, you both get to Charlottesville. You're both 1Ls. My standing is you're not in the same small section.


NATALIE BLAZER: Right. OK, so just set the stage. How and when did you first meet or see each other? How did one 1L year take shape?

CRYSTAL SHIN: We were in the same civ pro class because we were in sister sections. So each semester, our two sections were in one class together. So I remember Jordan in our civ pro class, he was dressed almost daily in khakis, a button down shirt, he carried a briefcase, whereas the rest of us, we just rolled out of bed and barely had time to put on sweats. But he came looking like a little business person.

And I remember that he was a gunner and he would volunteer. He would volunteer to answer questions when I was just praying and hoping I wouldn't get cold called. And so I noticed Jordan right away. I thought he was cute but didn't have that many opportunities to talk to him in fall of 1L year.

JORDAN MCKAY: I'll correct some of the statements that were made. I didn't have a briefcase.

CRYSTAL SHIN: You did have a brown briefcase.

JORDAN MCKAY: It wasn't a briefcase. It was just like a tote bag.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Like a leather tote bag for your laptop.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, for my laptop.

CRYSTAL SHIN: It's a briefcase.

NATALIE BLAZER: This is one of those episodes where I really wish listeners could just see your faces while the other person is telling the story. It's amazing.

JORDAN MCKAY: And I also was not a gunner. I did not volunteer.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Yes, you did.

JORDAN MCKAY: No, no. And we can talk to Professor Nelson.

CRYSTAL SHIN: We should ask Professor Nelson. I trust his memory better than both of ours. He will 100% confirm my side of the story.

NATALIE BLAZER: So what were like-- were there any meaningful interactions like OK, I remember the first time we talked to each other, or we were at a party, or anything like that?

JORDAN MCKAY: I remember the first time we really had a substantial conversation with each other was actually, in my memory, second semester, 1L year in property because we were in property class together. And somehow we got in a conversation about North Carolina and about basketball. And you started talking about how you taught at North Carolina and how a lot of people there were NC State fans.

CRYSTAL SHIN: It was hard living in North Carolina because I'm the biggest UVA sports fan. So it was hard living in North Carolina surrounded by red because all the state fans and blue, all the UNC fans.


NATALIE BLAZER: And did you have a team?

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, I'm a--

CRYSTAL SHIN: This is a source of contention in our marriage now. Don't say it.

JORDAN MCKAY: I cheer for a team that is located in North Carolina.


JORDAN MCKAY: That is in Durham, North Carolina.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, you should have just kept that team to yourself.

JORDAN MCKAY: I guess we'll get to this point later on, but I think it was our third date and you just stopped and looked at me and was like, you know what, I don't know if we can continue to date with you being a Duke fan.

CRYSTAL SHIN: That's a true story. And we did stop dating.

JORDAN MCKAY: And you were so serious, the look on your face.


JORDAN MCKAY: And it gets worse because I'm also a Cowboys fan and she--

CRYSTAL SHIN: I'm a Washington fan.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, DC, right?


NATALIE BLAZER: Wow, and you overcame a huge obstacle like that. I cannot wait to get to that part, Crystal. OK, so you're in school. You had the basketball conversation, the North Carolina conversation, were you involved in any of the same student orgs?

CRYSTAL SHIN: Not really. I was really involved in PILA. I was one of the auction directors for two out of my three years in law school. I spent a lot of time helping with fundraising for PILA because at that point, that was the primary source of funding for summer fellowships.

I was involved in a lot of pro bono work, clinics. And so we really did not participate in the same activities. What were you involved in law school?

JORDAN MCKAY: I was involved in primarily BALSA.

CRYSTAL SHIN: So I guess during 3L year we hung out because we had mutual friends. And at that point, I had a full-on crush on Jordan, but he just didn't ask me out. And so my best friend from law school, we were in the same section and we just became BFFs first day of orientation, Jessica Childress and I talked about this endlessly.

And I told her, you know what, I'm just going to move on. And she convinced me to wait until Super Bowl Sunday. She said, just give him until Super Bowl Sunday to see if he'll ask you out. And she didn't have any intel. She just had a sense that he liked me too, that we would be good-- we would be a good couple. And so she encouraged me to wait until Super Bowl Sunday.

And that deadline came and went and he did not ask me out. And so at this point I had--

NATALIE BLAZER: Were the Cowboys playing that year?

CRYSTAL SHIN: No. Oh, please. No way.

JORDAN MCKAY: It was the Colts and the Saints.

NATALIE BLAZER: So I have a lot to say about this. I want to hear now Jordan's side of like--

CRYSTAL SHIN: What took so long?

NATALIE BLAZER: Crystal had been developing this crush. Had you also been developing a crush? And where did you stand like that Super Bowl Sunday had it not-- tell me your side.

CRYSTAL SHIN: You were definitely not interested our first and second year. You just thought of me as a friend.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, it was 3L year because we were in civil rights litigation together. I sat on one end of the class, you sat on the other end of the class. And there were times where I think I saw you looking at me across the classroom.

CRYSTAL SHIN: No, that did not happen. I was focused on the class content.

JORDAN MCKAY: And were we on Gchat together? We talked to each other during the class?

CRYSTAL SHIN: Is that still a thing on Gmail? Yes, we would talk on Gchat.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, and again, Crystal was a huge UVA fan. And so she would set up these tailgating parties before football games. And so I went to--

CRYSTAL SHIN: UVA football games.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, so I went to a couple of those, and she knew all the players, she knew all the rules. And I was like, oh, this is-- I was interested. Then I did the J-term. I don't know if UVA-- do they still have--

CRYSTAL SHIN: I think they still have J-term in Paris.


NATALIE BLAZER: Yes, they do.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, so that's a good plug for students who are interested in UVA.

NATALIE BLAZER: So you did that?

JORDAN MCKAY: I did that. So I was in Paris and again, I would talk to Crystal.


JORDAN MCKAY: And I remember I would go to a McDonald's because they had free Wi-Fi. And I would get on and I would talk to Crystal.

CRYSTAL SHIN: He would wait to see if I was going to log on to Gchat. You said that you waited.

JORDAN MCKAY: I would look to see if you were on Gchat.

NATALIE BLAZER: He's in Paris and all he's thinking about is Gchatting you.


CRYSTAL SHIN: And he brought me a present from Paris. So I was like, oh, it's definitely going to happen. He's going to ask me out and then he didn't.

JORDAN MCKAY: I was just shy and nervous.

NATALIE BLAZER: He was nervous. So then Super Bowl Sunday comes and goes. So then Jordan, tell us when and how did you actually get the nerve to ask her on the first date?

JORDAN MCKAY: Well, I think I just remember saying, look, if you don't do it, you're going to end up regretting it and saying what if. And so I was like, let me just ask her. And I just remember I was taking a long time to leave her apartment, and I was slowly stalling to get up the nerve to ask her. And then I finally went, I was like, well, I kind of, like you and would you like to go on a date?

And I remember she had a-- you had a slight smile there. So I thought like, OK, she's going to say yes.

CRYSTAL SHIN: But in my mind I was thinking, I like you. What are things I like? I like strawberry ice cream. I like watching baseball.

NATALIE BLAZER: He's not going to show up and be like, I love you. Let's go on our first date. He has to hedge.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, and our first date, it was April 2, and it was at the Shebeen.


CRYSTAL SHIN: An oldie but goodie that's no longer here.

NATALIE BLAZER: Such a great date spot.

JORDAN MCKAY: And I picked the Shebeen because I knew if the date was horrible and it went wrong, it wouldn't ruin that restaurant for me because the food was so good that I would still want to come back. So I was like, the Shebeen, that's the spot.

NATALIE BLAZER: Strategic, I like it.

CRYSTAL SHIN: And it was the most awkward date ever. Basically, before the date I think Jordan had prepared 100 questions to ask on the date and just ask them in succession, 1, 2, 3, 4 just down the road just asking me question after question. And no sooner would I answer a question, he would throw the next question at me.

And sometimes I would answer the question and say, well, what about you? And he just looked like a deer in the headlights because he didn't even remember the question because he had already prepped to ask the next question. So I just felt like I was talking the entire date and Jordan was just interrogating me, asking me question after question.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yes, it was not a good direct examination.

NATALIE BLAZER: But you wanted to be prepared. I will say I would prefer that over somebody who's just talking about themself the whole time and not asking any questions. I would say that's way more common. So he wanted to get to you, he needed a little structure. We're all lawyers, be prepared.

But so something made you agree to a second date. So what happened?

CRYSTAL SHIN: My best friends Jessica and Adam said, just give Jordan five dates. Just go out with him five times. And if you think it's not going to work out, that's fine. We won't hound you about it anymore.

NATALIE BLAZER: Five dates is a lot.


JORDAN MCKAY: So the second date we went to a baseball game. And I remember my plan was we'll go to the baseball game and then we would get something to eat afterwards. But I think you had already had dinner or lunch or whatever the time the game was. You had already ate, and so you weren't interested in eating afterwards. And I was like, oh, that is not a good sign.

CRYSTAL SHIN: And I did a second check mark. Two of five done.

NATALIE BLAZER: OK, so the second one was a baseball game.


NATALIE BLAZER: No food. And then what happened after that?

JORDAN MCKAY: Duke played UVA.

CRYSTAL SHIN: We made a bet.

JORDAN MCKAY: And we made a bet that if UVA won, I think I had to paint my face--

CRYSTAL SHIN: Blue and orange.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, blue and orange and come to class the next day with a blue and orange face. Now, I accepted that bet because there's no way Duke's losing this game. And so my bet was that Crystal had to wear-- I had an old Grant Hill jersey, that she had to wear that Duke Grant Hill jersey leaving the stadium, leaving JPJ and also at school the next day.


JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah. And so we're sitting in two different spots in the stadium, but I can see her. And I still remember this play. It was Jon Scheyer, who's now the coach at Duke, does this step back 3 and knocks it down. And the score is 63 to 36.

And I could see Crystal's face and I'm like, this isn't good because at this point, I like her. I like her. At this point I like her and I'm like, oh, this is not going to go well. So I leave my seat to go to get to her to say, hey, you don't have to--

NATALIE BLAZER: You don't have to do this thing.

JORDAN MCKAY: You don't have to do this. I'm calling it off. But I can't get to her in time, and the buzzer hits, the game's over. And I see her reach down in her bag and pull out the jersey and put it on, which again is awesome because she doesn't know that I'm there. So she honored the agreement even though-- she could have easily have just walked out and been like, no, I'm unilaterally rescinding this.

CRYSTAL SHIN: What did my face look like?

JORDAN MCKAY: You looked mad. And I tried to tell you after the fact, after you put the jersey on and you started to walk up the stairs. I was like, hey, you don't-- you did not talk to me. You barely looked at me.

CRYSTAL SHIN: I was like, what kind of monster would make someone do this?

JORDAN MCKAY: But then when you did that, when you honored, I was like, man, I like this girl even more.

NATALIE BLAZER: She's a woman of her word.


CRYSTAL SHIN: But ultimately, because of his devotion to Duke, we decided to call it quits. I decided to call it quits.

JORDAN MCKAY: It wasn't that, was it?

CRYSTAL SHIN: It was that.

NATALIE BLAZER: So you didn't do the five days.

JORDAN MCKAY: We didn't do five days.

CRYSTAL SHIN: We didn't make it to five. We made it to three.

NATALIE BLAZER: And so then what happened?

CRYSTAL SHIN: We spent a very awkward summer studying for the bar.

NATALIE BLAZER: Now, were you guys taking the same state?

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, we're both doing Virginia bar.

CRYSTAL SHIN: So we spent the summer in the same circle, and so we were in the same room every day for the bar lesson. And then we took the bar exam and went our separate ways. I stayed in Charlottesville for a legal aid job. You moved to DC.


CRYSTAL SHIN: He had already moved on. He was going to sign up for It's Just Lunch, that dating site for professionals.

NATALIE BLAZER: No listeners will have ever heard of that, but I know It's Just Lunch.

JORDAN MCKAY: But yeah, this is all before Tinder or any of other dating sites.

NATALIE BLAZER: Oh yeah, this is very early days.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Very early.

NATALIE BLAZER: We didn't even have Instagram. We barely had Facebook at that point, right?

CRYSTAL SHIN: Right? Oh my gosh.

JORDAN MCKAY: What happened?

CRYSTAL SHIN: So we reconnected over Labor Day weekend that same year.

NATALIE BLAZER: How did that happen?

CRYSTAL SHIN: I was driving up from North Carolina. I had been a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding, and I had a long drive from North Carolina back to Virginia. And so I was just calling multiple friends to catch up. And then I called Jordan because I think, oh, I haven't talked to him in a while. I should catch up with him.

And so we had a great conversation. And then I think we even talked the next day. And I think the next day we decided, should we try this again?

And I remember when we started dating that second time, we had a conversation about let's be serious about this relationship. And I said something like, if a year from now, if we're still dating but one of us is unsure about whether we want to get married, let's just end it and let's not waste anyone's time. And you agreed.

NATALIE BLAZER: All the ultimatums and the deadlines. But yeah, so you agreed to that.


NATALIE BLAZER: OK. So then when was the wedding? Where did you get married?

CRYSTAL SHIN: It was September 2, 2012. We got married at UVA. So we had our ceremony at the chapel and then the reception at Alumni Hall. And so it was very UVA and Charlottesville-centric. We had all local wines and beers. We had a local caterer. It was just wonderful to see all of our UVA friends and professors and friends from undergrad.

NATALIE BLAZER: I love that. Wow, oh my gosh. So we have a lot to cover and not a lot of time left. So your careers, as I mentioned in your bios, have taken you-- obviously, you're both now back at the law school teaching, so you're both here in Charlottesville and connected to the law school where you first met, which I love.

But you're also, I would say, on different sides of Crystal, you're doing youth defense. Jordan, you are--

JORDAN MCKAY: A prosecutor.

NATALIE BLAZER: A prosecutor. And obviously, you overcame being a Duke fan and UVA fan, so I feel like there's nothing you can't overcome after that. But does that ever come into play? Obviously, you are good about your differences, but I'm just curious how that works. You're two lawyers living in the same house doing very different types of work.

JORDAN MCKAY: I think it was harder in a sense when I was the state prosecutor because you were going up against my colleagues in a lot of matters, and we were appearing in front of similar judges. We never--

CRYSTAL SHIN: We never were on the same docket, obviously, because of the conflict of interest. So Jordan never prosecuted youth.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, and you dealt with the same officers, right? And so yeah--

NATALIE BLAZER: Again, I wish people could see their faces.


CRYSTAL SHIN: But I think it was helpful having Jordan's perspective just because he knew the players very well. And so times where I want to go hard on every single thing, Jordan would give me a different perspective. Well, consider this from the prosecutor's perspective. Consider this from the police officer's perspective.

JORDAN MCKAY: And you'd do the same to me. Hearing some of Crystal's client's stories and backgrounds, it always helped to anchor me because especially when you're a state prosecutor, you don't get a lot of information on the offender. You only see them on their worst day.


JORDAN MCKAY: And so I think Crystal helped balance me on that end.

NATALIE BLAZER: It's like this is a real person.

CRYSTAL SHIN: And we talk a lot about sentences.

NATALIE BLAZER: This is their upbringing, yeah.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Right. We talk a lot about sentences. I like to remind Jordan and all prosecutors that time away from your family when you are jailed or imprisoned impacts not just that person but their family. They can lose a job. They can miss a car payment. They can miss rent payment.

And in the minds of prosecutors, they might think, oh, it's only a week or two, but it can have such ripple effects on not only the person, the individual, but their families. And so I just think it's very important for prosecutors and judges to remember all the consequences, direct and collateral, that go along with detaining people and imprisoning people.

JORDAN MCKAY: And I always try to balance justice with mercy and thinking about those collateral consequences that come with any sort of prosecution.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, it's making me think more prosecutors and defense attorneys should be married.

CRYSTAL SHIN: One of my clinic students had mentioned that to me like, maybe the best way to grow progressive prosecutors is to have them marry defense attorneys.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, so you're both now teaching. What do you love about teaching at the law school?

CRYSTAL SHIN: I love that I can still practice law and still get a chance to teach and help train future defenders. It's just a perfect mix for me. There was a time where I didn't get to practice law and I was just teaching. In the clinical world we call it podium teaching.

And while I enjoy that as well, I love being a lawyer. I love practicing law, so it's a perfect mix right now for me to be a clinical professor.


JORDAN MCKAY: Crystal is the professor in the family. With the trial ad, I enjoy telling the war stories to the students and teaching them how to be good trial advocates in the courtroom.

CRYSTAL SHIN: You teach based on your experience.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, I teach based on that experience. So yeah, I enjoy letting them see the practical applications of what they've learned and evidence or torts and showing like, this is how it's really applied in a courtroom setting.

CRYSTAL SHIN: I love watching my students grow throughout the course of the semester. Some students have more experience when they take my clinic, some students have less, some students are nervous, some students are fairly confident. But every single student who takes a clinic, not just mine, experiences so much growth over the course of the semester.

And I love to see them grow more confident, to see them grow more outraged at the injustices in our legal system. I love to see their advocacy. And that's just so rewarding to get to see them grow as attorneys and advocates.

NATALIE BLAZER: So given that you both, you're seeing students firsthand, you were law students, you are practicing lawyers, for folks out there applying to law school, whether it's something to do with the application process or the selection process or just what it's like to be a law student, do you have one piece of advice for anybody who still has this all ahead of them?

CRYSTAL SHIN: I would say for applicants, I think my piece of advice would be just to be authentic in your applications, to double check your work. Make sure there are no typos or any grammar mistakes and to cast your net widely. Consider various schools and various geographic locations.

I think for future public interest lawyers, your law school debt can be one of the main obstacles for you to enter public service work immediately, and so apply to various schools. And if you are deciding between peer schools, you might want to consider the school that gives you the bigger financial package because law school debt can be, just like I said, the biggest obstacle for public interest lawyers.

NATALIE BLAZER: I do want to plug the Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program. They just raised the salary requirements basically. So if you do go to UVA or to another school that has a comparable loan forgiveness program, you will get help paying back your loans. But I agree with you 100%. If you're coming out with $300,000 of debt and hoping to go into a legal aid position, that's going to be a factor, right?


NATALIE BLAZER: Anything to add to that, Jordan?

JORDAN MCKAY: I totally agree with everything Crystal just said. I think one advice I would give, and this is almost just for applicants and even for students, is don't self-select yourself out of opportunities. So there are a lot of times where even when I'm talking to law students they're like, oh, I'm not going to-- I'm not going to apply for this clerkship because I don't think I'll get it. I was like, you don't know. You don't know what that judge is looking for, so apply for it and you never know what's going to happen.

CRYSTAL SHIN: I would also say get to know your professors. I got to know many of my professors as a law student and they became mentors to me. And even now they are still great mentors to me. I think sometimes students may be shy about getting to know your professors, but we're here because we want to invest in you. We want to be helpful to you. We want to have a relationship with our students.

NATALIE BLAZER: Well, and this is why I love having faculty on because anyone listening can tell that you two would be very approachable, very accessible, definitely people who are invested in the students and want the best for them. Before we go, I just want to say that you two welcomed recently a new addition to your family. Congratulations.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Thank you. Yes, we have a baby girl, and she is wonderful and a lot. So we are navigating being two working parents and raising a tiny human.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, and I think we decided she's UVA Law class of 2048.

CRYSTAL SHIN: That's right.

NATALIE BLAZER: Conservatively.

CRYSTAL SHIN: If she goes straight through.

NATALIE BLAZER: Yeah, that's right. Well, especially having said that, you two are full-time working professionals, law professors, prosecutors, parents. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to be here. This was just awesome.

CRYSTAL SHIN: Thank you, Natalie.

JORDAN MCKAY: Yeah, thank you for the invitation.

NATALIE BLAZER: This has been Admissible with me Dean Natalie Blazer at the University of Virginia School of Law. My guests today were Crystal Shin and Jordan McKay from the class of 2010 at UVA Law. For more information about our law school, please visit law.virginia.edu.

The next episode of Admissible will be out soon. In the meantime, you can follow the show on Instagram, @admissiblepodcast. Thanks so much for listening and please remember to rate the show wherever you listen to podcasts.


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