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Meet 2024 Diversity Fellow Copenhagen Elliott

Meet 2024 Diversity Fellow Copenhagen Elliott

Copenhagen Elliott, a 1L at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, joins the firm this summer as one of our 2024 diversity fellows.

Copenhagen is a member of Northwestern’s Sports Law Society moot court team and the former 1L section representative of the Student Bar Association. In 2023, he summered with Kirkland & Ellis through the SEO Law Fellowship, a national program that places high-performing, underrepresented law students at top firms before the beginning of their first year. Before attending law school, Copenhagen spent several years working as a financial analyst in the tech sector. He earned an M.B.A. from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and a double B.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.

When did you become interested in pursuing law?

While I was completing my M.B.A., I realized that I didn’t enjoy what I was studying, even though I was good at it. In other words, it wasn’t fulfilling a passion. What is a passion for me, however, is advocacy. I spent a lot of time in undergrad advocating for people and causes. Ultimately, I decided law school would be a better place to focus on that.

I’m a first-generation college graduate, so it was already a feat that I’d gone to business school—let alone law school. The journey wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did it.

You have a background in finance and accounting. How do you think this experience enhances your lawyering abilities?

An analytical background is incredibly useful for legal work. You have to examine scenarios from many different perspectives and structure a large volume of data. And, when you’re working with clients, you need to know what the numbers on their balance sheet really mean, how they reflect a broader financial situation.

I’m grateful for the rigor of my education, too. My college accounting department was notoriously tough, and of course an M.B.A. is no walk in the park. I’ve heard a lot of other people in law school say they wished they majored in something else, but I think my prior degrees prepared for me for the intensity of this career path.

What drew you to this firm?

I’m from Houston, so it was a natural fit to begin with. Plus, I want to be a litigator—specifically a trial lawyer—so I’m keen to expose myself to trial work as soon as I can. I know that’s something you don’t get as a junior lawyer at big firms. At a boutique firm, though, there is plenty of opportunity for hands-on experience.

I was also impressed by the firm’s lawyers when I researched their backgrounds. Some of them come from prestigious government agencies, some from big firms. They’ve all done really cool work.

What do you hope to get out of your time at the firm?

I’d like to soak up as much possible. I think there’s a lot I can learn in three weeks. I hope to make long-lasting connections I can rely on, too. When it comes time to take the bar and figure out my next steps, I know these folks will be great to have as a resource.

What does diversity in the legal profession mean to you? Why do you think programs like the diversity fellowship are important to implement?

Law firms serve so many kinds of people and communities. The more diverse your firm is, the more perspectives, backgrounds, and personalities you can pool to effectively meet your clients’ needs. Everyone’s brain is wired differently, and we all have different life experiences. Rather than dividing us, that diversity of thought makes us better. Each person on a legal team can come up with their own unique solution, which the team can then synthesize into an optimal end product.

Hicks Johnson offers three-week-long summer fellowships to 1Ls who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity. Fellows work closely with our legal team on substantive matters, gaining firsthand insight into life at a boutique litigation firm.