You know her from “The Apprentice,” “Big Brother,” Trump’s White House, and more; and now she’s in the middle of law school just like you! Brand-new Law Student Podcast host DeMario Thornton chats with Omarosa about her unusual path to law school, her reality tv experiences, the confidence she feels as a non-traditional student with plenty of life experience to draw from, and what she hopes to do with her law degree.
Omarosa Newman is a reality tv star, a communications professional, and a 1L at Southern University Law Center.
Intro: Welcome to the official ABA Law Student Podcast, where we talk about issues that affect law students and recent grads. From finals and graduation to the bar exam and finding a job, this show is your trusted resource for the next big step. You’re listening to the Legal Talk Network.
DeMario Thornton: Hey, guys. And welcome to the ABA’s Law Student Podcast on Legal Talk Network. I am the one and only Megan Steenburgh. I’m kidding. I’m kidding. So, the wonderful Megan has graciously allowed me to be your new host of this podcast. And who am I? I am DeMario Thornton. So, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a 3L. That means that I am at the end of my law school journey in May. That’s it, I’m done. Thank goodness. I attend the Great Southern University of Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m from Birmingham, Alabama, so I’m a Southern boy. Let’s see what else about me.
I’m the editor in chief of Southern University’s Law Review. We are going to have a wonderful year. We’re going to have some great conversations with people I agree with, people I don’t agree with. But the common theme throughout this entire year will be people who have journeyed through law school and they just want to share some gems, some tips, some tricks for the next generation of law students. So, I want you to join me throughout this year. We’re going to have an amazing time. And today, I have a special guest, a very special guest. So, you’ve heard of Madonna, you’ve heard of Cher, Beyoncé́, Adele, Bono, all the people with one name, you know them by one name. It is the one and only Omarosa. How are you, Omarosa?
Omarosa Newman: Hi.
DeMario Thornton: Welcome to the show.
Omarosa Newman: That’s quite an introduction.
DeMario Thornton: I was trying to think of I was like, everyone knows you just by one name, Omarosa. How does it feel to just be known by one name?
Omarosa Newman: You forgot one line. You forgot to say, “and my classmate”.
DeMario Thornton: Listen. Okay. So, I was going to get into that. So, let me just say this first thing. So, when I had to get my first guest for this new iteration of the ABA’s Law Student Podcast, I was like, Omarosa. And first of all, let me just say, like, Omarosa is probably one of the nicest, well known people that I’ve ever met. So, let me start by saying that you are so nice. I remember when I first found out you were coming to Southern University Law Center. Well, when I found out — I didn’t even find out beforehand. I saw you at the election. I’m like, wait, Omarosa goes to my school. I’m like, wait, I was so surprised at how normal you were and how engaged you were in the — we were doing an election at the time of student elections, and I was just, like, surprised that you were playing the game. You know what I mean? I just thought you would be too cool for school to even play those games or whatever, but you were running for a position, and I was just like, oh, wow. That’s, like, really cool. Before I end my read, I just want to say super sweet, super nice person.
Omarosa Newman: I have to tell them the story of how you asked me to be on this podcast.
DeMario Thornton: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Omarosa Newman: So, we just had an event at the law center called Diamonds & Denim, and I have a plate full of food. Of course, I’m volunteering, because that’s what I do. I’m volunteering to register guests. And I’m like, snacking a little bit. He walks up. He’s like, “Hey, you want to be on my podcast?” I’m like, “sure”. It was just such a fun, organic moment, and then he started telling me about it, and fast forward, here I am. First of all, DeMario, it’s so wonderful to be a guest on your (00:04:34) episode of your podcast. I’m honored to be a part of this, and I can’t wait to have just a really fun conversation, because every time I get to spend time with you, whether it’s here or at Barrister Ball, which we’ll have to tell them all about.
DeMario Thornton: Yes.
Omarosa Newman: You have just been so wonderful and engaging and very helpful, so I appreciate that.
DeMario Thornton: Thank you so much. My mom would be so proud. Okay.
DeMario Thornton: So, I’m going to start, I guess, from the beginning. So, we all know you from TV, just “TV”. What throughout your life’s trajectory brought you to law school?
Omarosa Newman: I wanted to go to law school right out of undergrad. I graduated from Central State University, where I was a student athlete, and I was a beauty queen. I was Miss Central State.
DeMario Thornton: Yes. Yes, you were.
Omarosa Newman: Which is not big deal for people that don’t know.
DeMario Thornton: And you know, I don’t want to go out. I want to go out on a tangent. But, I can remember because I was HBCU king myself and I remember when this was, like, 2009, we went to meet Mister and Miss Central State, and they were like, Omarosa was at our school and immediately. I’m not even kidding. Immediately, I was like, I’m team Omarosa. This is like, in 2009. I was like — because it’s a small community of people.
Omarosa Newman: Listen, the highlight of my Central State, of course, playing volleyball, which is my passion. I’m an athlete and a competitor just by nature. But becoming Miss Central State was the pinnacle of my HBCU journey. Being an HBCU queen or king like yourself, it just doesn’t get any better in terms of representing your school and promoting what you love.
DeMario Thornton: Yes.
Omarosa Newman: So, yes. I went to Central State, and at Central State, I wanted to go to law school, but I have dyslexia. I have a learning disability. I have a combination of reading disability in addition to dyslexia. And so, I just didn’t have the confidence. Everybody told me how hard law school was going to be for someone like me, how many challenges, how much reading and so I decided to go another path. I applied for a Master’s Program at Howard. I did study for the LSAT, and it was incredibly hard for me even then. But I started taking the LSAT. I was also applying to all these other opportunities, and I got a full ride for my Masters and Doctorate at Howard University. And so, I decided to continue down in communications, because you know, if nothing else, your girl can talk.
DeMario Thornton: She can’t speak.
Omarosa Newman: I start to make a career out of communications. Yes. But in the back of my mind, I wanted to go to law school. And at the time, there were tools for people with learning disabilities, but not the tools that they have now DeMario. And so, I thought like a lawyer. I carried myself like a lawyer. I studied law and policy when I got to my graduate education. So, my specialty is in Telecommunication Law and Policy. So, I did a lot of policy work, but I just never made the leap to go to law school.
DeMario Thornton: And this is the first time I’m hearing about this. This is crazy because I have a learning disability. I’m ADHD, and I literally was like, oh, yeah, I can’t go to law school just because I thought, like, you just can’t — it would be too much of a hill to climb to even try to go through that. But that’s weird, because I never knew that about you. So, do you believe that your life’s trajectory would have been different if you had went straight to law school right from Central?
Omarosa Newman: I’m so glad I didn’t. In hindsight, now that I’m here, I’m a better law student. I believe I’ll be a better lawyer because of the experiences that I had prior to coming to law school. Straight out of undergraduate, I don’t think I have the maturity or the outlook on life to be a strong advocate. But because of the things that I’ve been through in addition to I think I shared with you privately. My brother was murdered, going through his trial, going through that legal situation and all the other incredible legal situations I’ve had to go through in and out of the courtroom. It truly prepared me to take law very seriously, to not have an ego driven law career. My work is driven by my passion. And so, I’m glad that I didn’t go to law school straight out of Central State, because I would not be able to comprehend the information that I’m taking in now, nor could I put it in context to how to best advocate and be a voice for those who have no voice and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
DeMario Thornton: Yeah. I always try to tell people – well, people don’t realize that I am actually a non-traditional student. I’m 34 years old, and I was out of school for ten years. Being a non-traditional student is literally like having a superpower because –
Omarosa Newman: It is.
DeMario Thornton: — you have a different vantagepoint than the people going straight through. Now, while there are very smart 23-year-old going straight through, there are certain blind spots that they have that I believe non-traditional students, like, really get to see.
Omarosa Newman: I’m also able to advocate for myself more. If someone would have called on me a year after I was out of undergrad in a law classroom, I would have been nervous. Now, when they call on me, I’m like, “me, me, me”. I’m ready. Nothing intimidates me or scares me. And in that way, instead of having the nervousness that you would traditionally have, I can actually take in the information and have a very robust conversation and engagement with my professor and my classmates because I don’t have the nerves, and I’m not intimidated by the situations that I think traditionally you would be, if you’re really young coming straight into law school.
DeMario Thornton: So, I was telling you the other day, I was like, so most law students, we have this what do you call it, imposter syndrome. Do you ever feel like that on your first day of law school? Did you feel like, oh, but then again, you’re like, Omarosa, you probably don’t feel that, not even in the lead, right?
Omarosa Newman: No. I’m right here where I belong. I have to testify a little bit. God is the author and finisher of my faith. He has written my life story, every chapter of it. He has had his hands in it. And it truly is no accident that I’m here at this time in my life and preparing to go on and try to be the most effective advocate that I can be. And so, now, I’m right where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be, and where I’m supposed to be, and I trust God in his very intimate infinite power and wisdom that I’ll be equipped to do the work.
DeMario Thornton: Okay. So, I, before I came to law school, I was a flight attendant, and my thing that I used to do when I have downtime is I would read books about celebrities. Now, I have a very picky palette. Now, my palette is only for non-fiction celebrity books. That’s all I read. So, I actually did read your book when it first came out, “Unhinged”. And I was reading in your book that you were very meticulous with your journaling skills about, you know, I was at this place at this time, at this place at this time, which a regular person like me, I wouldn’t even think to know what time I ate last. Has your meticulous journaling helped you in law school?
Omarosa Newman: Oh, yeah. It really has. Law school requires that you retain a significant amount of information in a very short amount of time. But I’ve learned not to just take notes about the law or a particular case. I also write a lot about how I feel in that moment and my reaction to the case. I also notate what I think I would have done if I were, in fact, representing the defendant or representing the plaintiff in a particular case. And sometimes I put myself in the seat of the judge and try to take their point of view. That has changed my outlook on how I engage with particularly historic cases. And it has helped me to learn material so much faster because I’m always thinking from everyone’s point of view, this is what I would have done, this is how I would have looked at it. And it helps me when I try to even kind of merge all of the analysis together. So, yeah. My journaling is one of my secret weapons.
DeMario Thornton: Oh, it definitely is. Yeah, it is. What has been, I guess, your hardest part about being in law school?
Omarosa Newman: Well, the hardest thing for me is, first of all, I started law school in the middle of a pandemic. I do not recommend it. And I was in the middle of two major legal battles with probably the most powerful man in the world. Donald Trump was suing me, and he also stick the justice department on me. So, I’m starting law school with those two legal cases going on at the same time. I mean, you can’t make this up. There were times that I would leave class and then I’d have to go to a deposition, right? Or I would be in class and a headline would break about one of my cases.
So, talk about trying to focus while in law school. And then one of my cases resolved, I was in the middle of a class and my phones were going off, and I read the headline before I even talk to my attorney because I didn’t want to take the call because I was in class. So, yeah. That has been the biggest challenge. Second was, of course, doing it in the middle of a pandemic. And we came on campus and we went back home and we never came back to campus for the rest of the semester. You know, you were there, you lived it.
DeMario Thornton: Great. That is great. Indeed.
Omarosa Newman: I learned so much better in person and in the classroom and being in an academic environment. I do not learn well with my puppy at my feet barking, my husband trying to figure out when dinner is going to be ready, and my kid coming in looking for his laundry. It’s just not a good balance when you’re in the gym trying to take law classes.
DeMario Thornton: Has it been — would you say, like, law school is just like another job for you because you’ve had a lot of high-powered jobs?
Omarosa Newman: No. There is nothing like law school.
DeMario Thornton: Okay. Let the people know, Omarosa. Let them know. But first of all, let me just shamelessly plug this in here. She has been on national television, she has worked in the White House, and she said that law school is like nothing else. So, all the haters out there who know that I’m in law school, you’ll hear what Omarosa is telling you. We are going through a lot in law school.
Omarosa Newman: Yes. Actually, I work full time and I’m in school. I’m in the evening program. So, when I go to work in the morning, when I clock in at 9:00 a.m., although I don’t clock in, you know, I’m a vice president. But when I go to work in the morning, it’s a relief to not have 200 pages of reading to do. I just get to do my job and I have a start and a finish, and I’m done. With law school, there is no finish. There’s always another chapter that has to be read. There are always cases that need to be brief. And then, as you mentioned at the beginning of the show, I am very active in student government here on campus. I’m volunteering. I still go to courts and advocate.
DeMario Thornton: I’m sorry. I have to interrupt you, Omarosa. Seriously, she’s not like coming to school with tons of paparazzi and just like waving goodbye. No, she is really like a student. She’s talking to people. She is involved. She’s a part of committees on SBA. No, this is serious, like, she is a real person at school, sitting in classes and actually a part of the experience. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Omarosa Newman: Yeah. I wanted to immerse myself. I felt if I was going to do law school, that I needed to do to the fullest extent possible, and that meant completely submersing myself in the experience and I wanted to have an authentic law school experience. Kind of like the girl graduated from Central State that should have went to law school, but went another path. I also am an advocate. Victims right advocate for the Hubbard House, which is a domestic violence program. And so, I’m actually in the court advocating four victims of domestic violence.
Now, I can’t advocate standing there, I can whisper things to them, but of course, because I’m not barred yet, I can’t actually fight their cases for them. But as an advocate, I’ve had a chance to stand in the courtroom, interact with all of the officials, and in a lot of cases, really help people improve their lives, improve their situations. And so, the magnitude of my studies hits me every single time I walk in the courtroom. Sometimes I feel like, oh, my gosh, I’m not equipped. I don’t know that case or I don’t know that particular law or I don’t know that maneuver to help my client. And so, I know that I have a significant amount of work to do and I’m not rushing it because there’s so much to learn.
DeMario Thornton: I’m rushing. I’m trying to be finished. I’m trying to be done. I’m sick of law school. Okay.
Omarosa Newman: I’m going to be a 7L by the time this is –
DeMario Thornton: What’s been your hardest course, you think? What’s the hardest course?
Omarosa Newman: I thought contracts was going to be hard, but as you know, I’m CALI Contracts.
DeMario Thornton: Absolutely, yes. Listen, for those out there that do not know what Caliying means, CALI means you got the highest grade in your section or your cohort. And Omarosa and myself, my first year CALI Contracts. And contracts are actually pretty difficult for people when they first come in because it’s not something that you’ve — not normal people, but you’ve probably dealt with a lot of contracts.
Omarosa Newman: Yeah. But even if you’ve had a lot of contracts, as you know, it was my first semester of law school. First year, first semester, first class and I was intimidated. It’s a lot to get to know, a lot to learn. And so, I mean, my proudest moment of law school thus far was finding out that I CALI Contracts.
DeMario Thornton: It’s like winning a Grammy or something. People just tell you, have you seen the CALI’s? Have you seen, yeah. It’s really like –
Omarosa Newman: And that’s how I found out. I found out by somebody else who walked up to me and said, “Congratulations! You CALI Contracts”. And I’m like, how do you know this? They knew how to go to the website and look to see who got the top. I had no idea.
DeMario Thornton: It’s the whole experience.
Omarosa Newman: And then when I saw you at Barrister Ball and you were like, you should be on the journal, I know that you’ve done well at school. I’m like how does he know? And you’re like because I saw you on your CALI.
DeMario Thornton: I found at CALI. Yes. I’m looking through the CALI’s to see who is the person or the people who are really doing what they’re supposed to be doing, because people will join a lot of different things in law school and they’ll be a part of it. But you go to their CALI list and you see who’s really putting in the work. So, kudos to you.
Omarosa Newman: Yes, indeed. Thank you so much. Thank you.
DeMario Thornton: Okay. I think this is going to be the last thing that I kind of fan girl out, like, we talked about our love for Big Brother. Love, Big Brother.
Omarosa Newman: Yes.
DeMario Thornton: I’m a highly competitive person and you have been on two iterations of Big Brother. Would you say you can take some of those qualities that you use in Big Brother for law school?
Omarosa Newman: I’d like to think you can. So, just in terms of — I need to tell people why I love reality TV. So, when you’re an athlete — I have been an athlete since I was seven. I played volleyball, track, all of that, full ride to Central State on a volleyball scholarship. Thought I would play professional volleyball obviously but didn’t happened. But when you become an adult, there’s no more games. You don’t get to prepare for competitions. You don’t get to compete and have fun, make friends like you do when you’re a competitor.
One of the reasons I love reality TV so much is I really still can’t believe that they pay me to go on and do these shows because I’m so competitive. I get to live in a house with these wonderful people, where I got to live in the house with these wonderful people and do these fun games and talk and meet different cultures. I mean, you mentioned the Australia Big Brother I did. That was phenomenal. I got to meet people from around the world that I never thought I would meet. But it’s always the celebrity version, so it’s always shorter, less painful.
DeMario Thornton: But at least you’re actually going to these shows and doing it. I’m doing it in my mind. I’m like, law school is a reality show and this is a competition, and I have to be the best. So, at least you’re actually going on actual shows, but I’m dealing with it in my mind. So, I just want to end this little bit with, what words of wisdom do you have for another non-traditional law student who is contemplating going to law school or doing anything that they don’t think they’re equipped to do?
Omarosa Newman: I get this question a lot because people are still trying to wonder, what can I do to go to law school? How can I get into law school? First of all, I will tell you if I can do it, you can do it. Trust me. With all of the challenges that I’ve gone through in my life, in my academic career of advocating for myself and getting the right tools so that I could be an effective learner. First of all, the first decision is to do it and just think about it. It’s 24 years since I dreamed about being in law school that I’m just getting into this. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that it’s going to stretch your critical thinking to start thinking a little deeper in terms of if you are interested in going to law school, I would say start studying for the LSAT right now. Even if it’s three years from now, just start preparing for the LSAT. And then once you get accepted, my biggest advice is to touch up on your typing. It’s the most underrated skill that no one prepared me for. Thank God, I used to type 40, 50 words a minute. Now that I’m a little older, I’m not typing that fast, but I at least had the skill to build on. Study, or at least acquire your typing skills, you will need it. It will help you tremendously.
But also go somewhere where you can also enjoy the culture. I love Southern University. Where in the middle of the campus, and there are often times that I’ve got friends. Now, I’ve got a little tribe. They’ll come and grab me and say, let’s walkover to see this, or let’s go experience this. This lecture is happening on campus, and so I’m not just stuck at the law school. I am having a full HBCU experience. I have my incredible village of support here, and I’m just loving every minute. And you’re part of my village, DeMario.
DeMario Thornton: Oh, thank you so much. I’m so glad to be a part of the village. I do want to let people know that they definitely need to go out and get your book “Unhinged”. I have personally read this. This is before I really learned how to read in law school. This is some good, juicy stuff in this book, and I love it.
Omarosa Newman: Thank you.
DeMario Thornton: And your entire background like that, people don’t know what they can get in a little snippet of 22 minutes. It’s all played out in there. If people are trying to find you on social media, where can they find you?
Omarosa Newman: Well, if you’re looking for me on social media — first of all, if you’re going to buy the book, Amazon, I think, is the best place. I also will sign it too. You can go to my website and it will tell you how I can autograph your books. In terms of social media, thank God, my father gave me a unique name. I am @Omarosa on everything. Twitter, on Instagram, Snap, TikTok, you name it, LinkedIn. I’m the only Omarosa that you’ll find, and if you follow me, I will definitely follow you back.
DeMario Thornton: I want to once again thank Omarosa so much for coming and speaking with me here on the ABA’s Law Student Podcast. If you are listening to us, well, you already know how to find us because you’re listening to us right now. So, wherever you listening to us, just continue to do that, either on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify Podcasts. Whatever it is, just make sure you listen. Once again, thank you so much for listening, and I hope you join us next time. We’re going to continue our conversation with Omarosa on this podcast. All right. See you later.