Andre Keels, L’18, started his professional career in the legal field – but not the one you might expect. After enrolling in a nine-week training course to become a deputy sheriff while an undergrad at VCU, Keels joined the force as a full-time deputy in 2013.

“I was always going to go to law school,” said Keels. “That was always my plan.” But as he prepared to apply to law schools, his time in the Sheriff’s Office exposed him to a unique part of the legal system. “One thing that all the lawyers tell us is that you have to be a good listener, you have to deal with people and … take the temperature of a room,” said Keels. “As a deputy sheriff, I worked inside the jail. In that capacity, you very much have to be aware of all of those things.”

After enrolling at the University of Richmond Law School, “I was explicitly focused on anything that was not criminal law,” said Keels, who wanted to be exposed to different areas of study. He enjoyed his courses in civil procedure and business, and became immersed in labor and employment law during a summer 2017 internship with McGuireWoods. Keels was attracted to the variety of work in that field – from regulatory affairs to administrative work to litigation. “I want very much to not be necessarily doing the exact same thing every day, but also have the opportunity to develop a specialty,” said Keels.

Keels has accepted a contract to return to McGuireWoods’ New York office in a year. But first, he’ll spend a year in a clerkship. “I’m always looking for ways to make my writing better, to make my analytics better,” said Keels, who hopes to do just that in his clerkship. “I remember when I was 10, somebody told me that I was going to be a Supreme Court justice one day,” said Keels. With his 2018-2019 clerkship position in the office of Virginia Supreme Court Justice Stephen McCullough, L’97, he may well be on his way.