Sanjeev Shah ’12 Reflects on His Transition from Engineer to Lawyer
Pictured above are Chief Judge Linda Ann Wells of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, and Sanjeev Shah ’12.

Sanjeev Shah, valedictorian of the 2012 evening class at the Florida International University College of Law, received one of the highest scores in the latest Florida Bar exam. Due to this, he was invited to offer a few remarks on behalf of the Bar inductees by Chief Judge Linda Ann Wells of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal.

Shah, who is principal in the Lea+Elliott, Inc. Miami office, plans to merge his legal and engineering skills to inform the firm’s strategic decisions and policy making process.

We recently sat down with Shah to reflect on his time at FIU Law.

You were recently chosen to speak at the induction ceremony. What did it meant to you?

I received a call from the Chief Judge Wells’ office and was invited to offer a few remarks on behalf of the inductees; as indicated to me, the invitation was due to my Bar Score being one of the highest in Florida. Personally, simply passing the Bar was achievement enough considering my full time employment as the Regional Director at Lea+Elliott, Inc. and my commitments to my wife Carolina and our soon to be 3 year old, Jay.  I know many colleagues went through law school and the Bar Exam while also juggling jobs and family.  This process is a marathon and one has to remain focused on the reason we chose to go down this path.

Chief Judge Wells’ invitation was an honor to all inductees and I was privileged to offer remarks on their behalf.  On a personal level, I was humbled and appreciative of all the support and encouragement that I received through my journey from my family, friends, colleagues and mentors at FIU College of Law.

Now that you have passed the Bar, what’s next?

Throughout law school I have been employed at Lea+Elliott, Inc.  I lead the firm’s strategic services with a focus on transit and airport developments and access.  My professional area of interest is in merging my legal and engineering skills to inform strategic decisions and the policy making process to help develop and implement critical infrastructure projects/investments such that there is an optimized return on investment – in terms of benefits to the Owner, the stakeholders, users and the community.  I look forward to continued opportunities to provide value-add to the process.

On a personal level, a key motivating factor in my decision to go to law school was the United States Constitution – how a seemingly simple and short document resulted in our complex society with an unwavering commitment to individual liberties and equality before the law.  I will remain engaged in our process – now as a lawyer with an ability to help resolve disputes fairly and equitably and help the less fortunate obtain equal access to justice.

Can you trace your path to FIU Law?

There were two factors that motivated me to go to law school – professional and personal.  I believed that a legal education would help me more effectively contribute to our community – both professionally and personally.

I decided to go to FIU Law. It offered me an opportunity to maintain my professional career in engineering while being educated and trained to become a lawyer.  It was a commitment that I could not have made without the support and encouragement of my wife, Carolina. Her constant encouragement and tons of patience made it possible for me to get through law school.

While at law school, there were many mentors within the faculty and staff who took to time to know and understood me; they provided me with encouragement and counsel.  I am grateful to each of them.  Many of my colleagues/classmates had similar commitments to family and employment – it is said that misery loves company, but I think they helped me keep my sanity through law school and preparing for the Bar.

Any advice for future law students?

Looking back, I offer this – balance your life, cherish your family, work hard and manage your time.  Law school is a marathon – there were and will be many moments of exhaustion and an impulse to quit.  During those moments remember why you started down this path – don’t give up.  You will find that the harder you work, the luckier you get!

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