Zoe Ben-Oren’s interest in a career that would involve writing led her to consider law school. A native of Atlanta, Ben-Oren spent a year living in Israel and then majored in history at the University of Florida. “I really love writing, but I had no interest in being an author or a teacher,” she said. “I found the dynamic nature of law careers incredibly appealing—there are so many different opportunities and jobs available to you once you have a law degree.”
Ben-Oren applied to 15 law schools and ultimately chose Vanderbilt after attending an Admitted Students Day. “I was struck by how genuinely kind and happy students here were,” she said. “Vanderbilt offered a community I wanted to be part of.”
As a law student, Ben-Oren quickly discovered an interest in and affinity for litigation. During her 1L summer, she interned for Judge Leigh Martin May of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, for whom she plans to work as a law clerk after graduation. “Working for a judge gave me an opportunity to see how important a persuasive brief can be,” she said.
During summer 2017, Ben-Oren honed her writing skills while working at two litigation firms, Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, a boutique firm in Atlanta. “My classes at Vanderbilt really prepared me for the work I did last summer,” she said. “I was able to experience a ‘war room’ and all that working on a trial entails. I wrote jury instructions, helped an associate prepare for an oral argument, and researched and drafted motions. I really got a chance to observe what it means to be a litigator. I cannot imagine having confidently done that work without having taken Evidence or Criminal Procedure, which both provided me with important, practical knowledge.”
Ben-Oren and her partner, Nell Henson ’18, won Vanderbilt’s 2017 Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court Competition, which involved two criminal procedure questions. Ben-Oren was able to apply the skills she gained working on the Moot Court case when she was asked to draft a motion to suppress evidence as a summer associate. “I really enjoyed applying those skills to a new problem,” she said.
As a 3L, Ben-Oren was Senior Notes Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. She also served on the Moot Court Board, Honor Council and was a member of the Jewish Law Students Association. “When I was a 1L, the 2Ls and 3Ls in each organization were really helpful in offering advice and guidance and resources,” she said. “It was really rewarding to step into that role.”