Five Questions with Daniel Webster Scholar Christopher Mignanelli, JD ’21
The morning of Friday, May 21 is the bar admission swearing-in ceremony for the scholars of the Daniel Webster Scholar (DWS) Honors Program, a first-of-its-kind program in the country allowing students to graduate without the need to take the traditional bar exam.
Heralded as “exemplary” and “innovative,” the program allows students to discover first-hand what it takes to succeed in today’s legal marketplace. Students hone their skills in both simulated and real settings, creating portfolios of written and oral work for bar examiners to assess every semester.
We recently sat down with Christopher Mignanelli, J.D. ’21 and Daniel Webster Scholar, to discuss his experience with the program.
Q: How did you first hear about the DWS program and what most interested you about it?
I first heard about the program as I was applying for law school, but truly found out more during orientation and from Daniel Webster Scholars. I attended UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law because of the practice-ready programming and once I knew that the entire Daniel Webster Scholar Program was dedicated to giving young lawyers the tools necessary to become a well-rounded practicing attorney, I jumped at the chance to apply!
Q: What did you most enjoy about your experience with the program?
The Daniel Webster Scholar Program is packed full of unique experiences that I was able to be part of. What I most enjoyed was being around such hard working and intelligent lawyers, professors, and law students. We met challenges head on, learned practical skills and took the opportunity to turn the classroom into a laboratory where we were able to develop our own styles as attorneys. I truly enjoyed being able to be in a setting where we were challenged every day to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and try again.
Q: What did you learn that you feel will be most helpful to you in the future?
The best part about the Daniel Webster Scholar Program is that every semester our classes helped us develop tools that will be used in our legal careers. The tool that will be most helpful to me in the future is the ability to step into an office and be ready to work on trials, motions, and other court proceedings right out of law school. We learned how to conduct ourselves in court, how to conduct ourselves with opposing counsel and overall, how to work through both the pretrial and trial phases of a case. Having this ability allows me to have an advantage that many young lawyers do not have: that is, practical experience.
Q: As you look back on your time at the DWS program at your swearing-in ceremony, what advice do you have for future scholars?
The piece of advice I would give to future scholars is to embrace making mistakes. Part of the whole program is putting aside egos, putting your best foot forward and being willing to learn. Cherish the chance to fail, the chance to learn, and the chance to see yourself become an attorney. Two years sounds like a long time, but it goes by in a flash, make sure you take advantage of everything the program has to offer.
Q: What’s next for Christopher Mignanelli, J.D.?
The next step for me is to start my career as an Assistant County Attorney at the Carroll County Attorney’s Office. In this position, I hope to give back to a state and legal community that has given me so much. Whether it is working for the public, assisting future law students as they enter this wonderful profession or just setting a good example for future scholars, I truly hope to be able to give back. Of course, none of this would be possible without the Daniel Webster Scholar Program.