In our Student Spotlight series, we hear from UCLA Law students about what brought them to law school, what they love about being on campus, and where they hope their UCLA Law education will take them. This month, we spoke to Terry Allen '23, the new editor-in-chief of the UCLA Law Review. The San Francisco native and father of two is already an experienced student, having earned both a master's degree and PhD before enrolling in law school. His love of the classroom is evident not just in his résumé but in his enthusiasm and joy when the topic gets mentioned. Allen is a recipient of the Erika J. Glazer Scholarship, which supports first-year law students who are dedicated to achieving equity for Los Angeles’ Black communities, and is pursuing a specialization in Critical Race Studies.
What was your path to at UCLA Law?
I've been in school for a very long time. I did my PhD at UCLA in Education. It was a beautiful experience. Prior to UCLA, I did my master's at Columbia and received my BA in rhetoric from Berkeley. I love school, I love learning, I love being in the classroom, hence all my degrees!
Part of my journey is to become a law professor. During my senior year of high school, I received a scholarship that would pay for my BA, my Masters, and my PhD. So, at the age of 17, I knew that those degrees were all part of my trajectory.
Congratulations on becoming Editor in Chief of the UCLA Law Review. What’s that like?
Part of our mission this year is to continue our tradition of publishing forward-thinking critical scholarship that aligns with uplifting women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, those persons who have been historically marginalized, emerging scholars, system-impacted folks, just to name a few. Two months in, it’s been a collaborative and fun experience. It's fun to work with your peers who share the same core values as you do. There’s power within that and the work feels lighter.
I also recognize that there is so much responsibility in our hands, being in control of folks’ futures in the legal profession, marginalized folks who don't get the opportunity to publish at a top journal like ours. For us to be able to hand-select critical scholarships from folks who may not look like your typical professor is a blessing. It’s going to be a lot of work. But that doesn’t scare me—I have two kids alongside the many other roles I hold at UCLA!
What was it like to hear that you were Editor in Chief?
I was excited. My first response was, “I'm ready. Let's do this and let's get this show on the road!”
What’s your favorite thing about UCLA Law?
My peers. I've been in school for a very long time, been around many different types of students. I think my peers here are just so amazing and so supportive. They're all doing amazing things. Us 2Ls, we shared this remote 1L experience. Now, in year two, we still have so much catching up to do. I'm still meeting people for the first time! Like, “Oh, I remember you on Zoom. Can we do a lunch?” So, the energy and the love of our peers, we have a unique culture and it’s very supportive. And the faculty members. When you need support, they say, “What do you need? How can I support you?” Folks are so willing to help you climb the ladder.
You’re specializing in Critical Race Studies. How has that experience been?
Choosing UCLA was intentional, because I knew that I wanted to study under the best faculty, the experts pushing for race-consciousness and pushing Critical Race Theory forward. Classes with CRS members intentionally embed conversations about race, and about gender and intersectionality and power. And for me affirms my decision to study here, as well as my commitment to having a CRS approach to everything I do, and towards my future as a law professor.
I’ve found great mentorship in CRS. I was a research assistant with Devon Carbado, who is now my advisor for my independent research project for a paper on policing Black students in white spaces. It was actually recently accepted for publication in UCLA Law Review. I took Property from Latoya Baldwin Clark. Her class was just so distinct. We learned the law and engaged in critical discussions about race and power in every class. She has also provided lots of mentorship to help me just prepare for legal academia and legal writing. Sherod Thaxton has played a big role in my personal development and academic journey towards learning how the law, such as criminal procedure, intersects with my interest in school policing. I’ve made it a mission to take every class taught by Cheryl Harris. And Jasleen Kohli, the executive director of CRS, she supported me before I even got into law school! They have all been instrumental in helping me transition from the PhD program to the JD program. I can’t forget Laura Gómez. She was instrumental in helping me build my network of academic and financial resources. There’s so many other faculty. I feel very supported.
Any words of wisdom for someone who's maybe considering law school and comes from a family where everyone hasn't gone to college?
I speak to students on a weekly basis. My colleagues are always surprised at how I have so much time to do mentoring, but a big part of my identity is doing for others what folks have done for me. Answering my emails and my calls, helping others apply to graduate and professional schools or navigate institutions and careers. So, my advice is: reach out. Reach out to those who you would like to learn from or who reached a milestone that is on your bucket list. Reach out for support and advice. I always take those calls and I don't think I will ever not take those calls. It’s a service to my own identity.
It's been a journey to say the least. And the journey is far from over!