Circumstances can often alter lives and sometimes, hard work and will can change the entire course of life.
Something similar happened to Shon Hopwood, a former federal inmate turned law professor. Hopwood was convicted for several armed robberies in 1997 and was sentenced to prison for 13 years.
While in prison, Hopwood initially earned a name for himself for his impressive basketball skills. However, he soon earned a bigger reputation by writing legal petitions for inmates which were so incisive that the US Supreme Court decided to hear the case.
Hopwood decided to take charge of his life and began studying law and quickly found out several errors and faults in the system. His magic moment arrived when he realized that he can form a better argument using the Fifth Amendment rather than the Sixth for the petition of Certiorari.
His petition was so compelling and impressive that the judge lessened his sentence from 13 to 11 years and allowed him to pursue an undergraduate degree in law. Soon, Hopwood was studying law, writing petitions for inmates and preparing for prestigious clerkships. In April 2015, he cleared the bar exam and was sworn in as a lawyer. He then joined Georgetown University as a teaching faculty and works with the students on cases in the appellate clinic.
The director of appellate litigation, Steven Goldblatt, commented,
He sees issues others don’t, strategies that others don’t. Many colleagues were struck by his academic writing.
William Treanor, the law school’s Dean, further added,
He understands the problems of incarceration in a way that somebody who just studies them as an academic is not able to get.
Hopwood’s case is a example of how people can change their lives. It also highlights the hollowness of our education system, which makes a student learn more about theory than practical.