3L Bryan Kelly – Student Leader Spotlight

Student Leader Spotlight

3L Bryan Kelly
3L Bryan Kelly

1. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Bryan Kelly and I am from Fort Worth, Texas. I have two younger sisters, Hannah and Christina, both of whom are significantly more impressive than me (but please do not tell that to my employer). From kindergarten through high school graduation I attended Fort Worth Country Day School where I particularly enjoyed my science classes. After graduating from FWCD, I attended Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M, I began as a chemistry, pre-med major but ultimately decided I did not want to attend graduate school. Little did I know that I would end up a construction science major with a business administration minor, degrees through which I would take a total of three semesters of law classes. Through those classes, I developed an interest in the law and decided to pursue a career in law.


2. Why did you decide to come to SMU Law?

I only applied to law schools in Texas. I am Texas born and raised, and I knew I wanted to stay in the Lone Star State. Furthermore, being raised in Fort Worth, I am loyal to DFW. And SMU has unmatched connections in DFW, which obviously drew my attention. That network, combined with the nationwide reputation of SMU Law, solidified my intent to attend SMU Law. Additionally, I am proud to admit that my dad, Todd Kelly (’88), also graduated from SMU Law.


3. What has been your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was Economic Analysis of the Law taught by Dr. Crespi. I always loved Dr. Crespi’s classes because he consistently involved a mathematical analysis of his positions, and as a former chemistry major and eventual construction science major, both of which involved a significant amount of engineering and math classes, I love math. Moreover, Economic Analysis of the Law was my first small-section class. Through the class, Dr. Crespi allowed his students to analyze different positions though both numerical and public-policy points of view, and he was open to all positions. The class was an open discussion through which we could have meaningful debates. Dr. Crespi’s expertise and open-minded approach will forever influence my own approach to problems, which will include public-policy points enforced by legitimate data. And, importantly, like Dr. Crespi, I will always aspire to consider a variety of arguments before forming a conclusion.


4. When you are not in school or studying, what do you do for fun?

School and studying (and, eventually, work) create stress, and the main way in which I combat stress is to run or spend time outside. Fortunately, the two often overlap. When I am not running in Dallas or Fort Worth, I spend my time at our family ranch outside of Stephenville, Texas. Physical exertion, through running or working or playing at the ranch, allows me to rest my brain and stay in shape. Specifically, I love to hunt and fish at our property with my sisters, my family, and my friends. When I cannot be outside, I like to play videogames with my roommate, friend, and fellow SMU Law student Lukas Moffett.


5. What extracurricular activities have you enjoyed most and why? (SBA, moot court, etc.)

As an Aggie undergrad, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as President of the Aggie Law Society at SMU. In particular, I have enjoyed the ability to see the Aggie Values transferred from undergrad to law school through the Aggie students at SMU. Texas A&M is well represented at SMU, and those Aggies consistently step up into leadership roles, which makes me proud as both an Aggie and a Mustang. Additionally, I have loved my time as a member of the Barristers Honor Society, through which I have had the opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with SMU faculty, create relationships with potential faculty members, and help maintain and further the reputation of SMU in the legal community. My position with the Barristers has allowed me to create high-level connections, hone important interpersonal skills, and give back to one of the most important establishments in my career and life. Moving forward, I expect these skills to benefit me in every aspect of my career-building time.


6. How has law school challenged you most?

Persistence. If I could sum up the single most important skill gleaned from law school, it would be that: Persistence. Historically, I always found school to be boring and a step removed from reality. However, in law school at SMU, I was challenged to analyze real-life situations in a practical way that I expect to benefit me in both my personal and professional lives.


7. What has been your most memorable law school moment so far?

To no surprise to anyone who attended SMU Law under Dean Yeager’s tenure, my most memorable moment revolves around him. One beautiful day this past spring, Dean Yeager agreed to allow myself, Lukas Moffett, and Mack Fitzgerald to man the wireless microphone at the annual Inn Olympics. Of course, we abused our power to no end, narrating the games in a play-by-play fashion amusing, likely, only to ourselves. But the real takeaway was the fact that Dean Yeager not only trusted his students to take the wheel, but recognized that SMU Law students create the positive or negative environment in which all other SMU Law students thrive or fail. Through Dean Yeager’s and SMU’s allowance of student autonomy, our narrations contributed to a feeling of full student autonomy which I believe bolsters true comfort at SMU Law. Certainly, that feeling of comfort fuels SMU Law graduates’ success during and after law school.


8. What do you plan to do post-graduation?

After graduation and taking the July bar, I will start with Decker Jones, P.C. in Fort Worth, Texas. The vast majority of my work with Decker will be in the construction litigation practice group. Between undergraduate and law school, I worked as a project engineer for Prim Construction. During my undergraduate studies, I interned with Holder Construction and White Construction in project-engineering capacities. Most recently, I was an extern with Fluor Corporation focusing on dispute resolution. I whole-heartedly expect that these unique experiences will assist my practice of construction litigation in the future.


9. Have you had any important mentors during law school? If so, who?

My dad, Todd Kelly, will forever by my go-to mentor. He is a self-sufficient person who not only offers extensive real-life advice but also the autonomy to develop the same self-reliance and personal decision making necessary for success. And, as an attorney himself, his advice has been particularly beneficial to me. Additionally, at school, my idol was, and always will be, Dr. Crespi. As mentioned previously, Dr. Crespi approaches the law and education in an analytical and practical approach. His unmatchable intelligence and open mindedness solidifies him as an indispensable educator. Finally, my career counselors Dana Minissale and Beth Lee channeled the ability to translate my academic interests into practicalities in the legal community. I will forever lean on them for career advice.


10. Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years?

For at least the next decade, I see myself at Decker Jones formulating my legal expertise and understanding of business. Ultimately, I hope to translate this expertise into an executive business role, whether that be on my own in a new venture or an existing entity. In the end, a firm understanding of the law guides the establishment of a long-lasting business, from the technical legal aspects to the nuanced skills of interpersonal relationships. Eventually, I sincerely hope my contributions as an attorney and/or entrepreneur benefit my community in a positive way, and I fully intend, no matter my path, to make my family, friends, and alma maters proud.

Published May 21, 2019 SMU Dedman School of Law