Graduating Student Spotlight: Makela Hayford

Makela Hayford holding sign

With commencement just around the corner on Saturday, May 14, CWRU School of Law is featuring a few of our outstanding graduating students. 

What is your favorite memory of CWRU School of Law?

I will always remember my very first federal trial with the First Amendment Clinic! The weeks before the trial, we used my professor's office as our situation room and if I wasn't in class, I was there with my classmates running through documents, preparing questions, and strategizing. I loved the sense of purpose and the pure focus that we brought to that office every day in service of our client. At the end of the trial, we received the trial transcript and I was able to see everything I said on the record—objections, examinations, and the closing statement. It was the first time the reality of my law degree really sank in.

Why did you choose CWRU School of Law?

You can learn legal doctrine anywhere, but I chose CWRU because of the community I found in Cleveland as an undergraduate student (at Case Western Reserve University). Law school is notoriously challenging and isolating, but I was fortunate to have a supportive community of mentors and friends to help get me through.

What advice would you give to incoming first-year law students?

Try to build a support system as soon as possible. It will be much more helpful than random study tips.  

Favorite course?

I have too many favorites, and my professors made all the difference: Evidence, Contracts, Social Justice Law Reporter, First Amendment Clinic, Civil Rights, Mass Media Law & Policy, Critical Race Theory, First Amendment Law, Civil Procedure with Bryan Adamson, Race Law & Society, and LLEAP.  

I also enjoyed serving as a Teaching Assistant for Criminal Law, Evidence, and LLEAP 3.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I will be working as a litigation associate at Hahn Loeser & Parks in downtown Cleveland. Eventually I'd love to teach and mentor students as a law professor.

Organizations & Achievements

  • Student Bar Association co-president with Nadia Haile 
  • Past president of the Black Law Students Association 
  • fRFA Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Technology
  • Member of Case Western Reserve's Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Team and have received the "Best Advocate" award in the 2021 and 2022 regional competitions