School of Law graduate and public servant embarks on career to help people gain equal access to legal system
Editor’s Note: Throughout the summer, Liberty News will shine the spotlight on members of the Class of 2020 leading up to Liberty’s 47th Commencement on Sept. 11-12. As seniors, this class had the exciting privilege of leading Liberty into a new decade — and then met the challenge of completing their degree during a pandemic. Through it all, they have made us proud. They are marching onward as true Champions for Christ, entering their chosen fields equipped to be world-changers with a renewed hope for the future.
Congratulations Class of 2020! #LU2020 #LUGrads
Throughout her life and in her studies at Liberty University School of Law, Samantha Nicodemus ('20) has been dedicated to serving others. Whether as a volunteer, a public servant or an advocate for access to legal services, Nicodemus’ commitment to service has not wavered over time.
Prior to entering Liberty, she served as a correctional officer with Craven Correctional Institute of Vanceboro, N.C., and as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines.
At Liberty, she has been president of the university’s Black Law Students Association and a member of National Black Law Students and Street Law (a student ministry that provides weekly support, lessons on legal topics, and guidance to residents of the local detention center), as well as a volunteer with Delta Airline’s community involvement organization, Force for Global Good. She also served as Liberty Law’s student representative for LexisNexis and Equal Justice Works and has volunteered with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Lynchburg Daily Bread, Delta Animal Transport Team, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Samantha has a long history of service outside of the classroom and in the communities in which she has lived,” said Liberty Law Dean Keith Faulkner. “She has a passion to serve those who may not have easy access to the legal system. Her academic accolades and accomplishments, as well as her service to the legal community, set her apart as an outstanding graduating law student. She truly represents the mission of Liberty as a Champion of Christ.”
In addition, Nicodemus provided supervised legal services to clients at Virginia Legal Aid Society, which offers no-cost legal services to eligible low-income individuals in 26 counties in Virginia. The society formed a partnership with Liberty that allows eligible 3Ls (third-year law students) to interview, counsel, and represent clients in court under the supervision of an attorney. Cases involve issues such as housing, public benefits, guardianship, uncontested divorce, unemployment, and Social Security. In this role, she demonstrated her commitment to providing access to justice by delivering legal services to citizens in Lynchburg and the surrounding areas.
“I have always felt called to help those who are not able to help themselves,” Nicodemus said, “not only in the courtroom, but in the community as well.”
During the summer before her third year in law school, Nicodemus was awarded an Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Corps Fellowship with The Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit public defender firm that represents over 27,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases. Nicodemus worked as a member of the firm’s holistic defense team, where she provided consultation on housing issues, food stamps, and other public benefits.
Nicodemus was the recipient of the Liberty Law Fellowship Program, which provides financial support for summer internships of law students with interest in public service and the goals and missions of the firms, agencies, or organizations in which they serve. She has interned with Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Vance and Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry.
Since her graduation, Nicodemus has been participating in a post-graduation bar study program at the School of Law. She plans to practice law with Brooklyn Defender Services, which provides representation to Brooklyn residents who otherwise could not afford legal services.
“I want to represent the clients who are so often forgotten about or who are stuck in the revolving door that is the criminal justice system,” she said. “I am committed to and so immensely passionate about making a difference.”