Graduate Spotlight: Catie Byrd Kelley

A woman dress in law graduation regalia stands on a wood bridge
Catie Byrd Kelley

Catie Byrd Kelley is graduating from Mercer University‘s School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree.

What are your plans after graduation?

I have been hired by an international Constitutional and human rights litigation firm and will be working to represent the First Amendment rights of individuals and nonprofit organizations!

Who was your favorite professor and why?

I’ve had so many wonderful professors at Mercer Law, it is so difficult to choose! I would have to say my favorite was Judge Verda Colvin, who taught summary judgment practice. She had high expectations but clearly communicated and gave helpful feedback and advice. She taught us skills that prepared us to practice law and skills that have already helped me at my externship placement. She is also one of the most encouraging people. She would always tell us to be excellent in everything we do!

What is one of your favorite Mercer memories?

One of my favorite Mercer memories was competing at the Mockingbird Challenge National Mock Trial Competition at Faulkner Law School. It was such a great experience, and it was amazing to see my work pay off with my closing arguments. At the closing dinner, we heard from an attorney who works for the Equal Justice Initiative, which was incredible! As 1L students, we read Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy,” and the work he did to found the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to wrongfully incarcerated prisoners on death row and has championed the stand against systemic racism in the legal system. It was so inspiring to hear firsthand about the work this attorney was doing while at our mock trial competition.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite classes have been all of the Constitutional courses I have taken — Constitutional law, survey of the First Amendment, and religion clauses of the First Amendment. These courses taught me so much and helped me realize my passion for Constitutional litigation.

What makes Mercer special to you?

Mercer is special to me because of all the people. President William D. Underwood, Dr. Penny Elkins and Dean Dr. Doug Pearson all supported me and encouraged me while I was a Mercer undergraduate student first considering law school. Chris Clark, a Mercer Law alumnus, mentored me and introduced me to Dean Marilyn Sutton at Mercer Law. Dean Sutton gave me a tour of the law school, I met law Dean Cathy Cox, and I knew Mercer Law was where I was meant to be. During my 1L year, I met Judge Verda Colvin, who has graciously served as a role model, supervisor and professor. I would not have met the attorney at the constitutional rights firm where I will be working after graduation if not for Mercer Law. I am so grateful for all of the people in the Mercer community.

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