Profiles: Celina Holmes-Murphy

Celina Holmes-Murphy

Celina Holmes-Murphy

JD 16

Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Veterans Legal Corps Fellow at Swords to Plowshares


Tell me something special or interesting about your background before you went to law school?

My husband is active duty military. He deployed to South Korea for his first duty station. I went with him to South Korea during his deployment; we were there for about a year. We lived on an Army base, in a small town southeast of Seoul. I loved my time in Korea, due to the people I met and the opportunities to travel and explore. I had a great experience teaching English to young children, and taught adults as well. As a benefit, our Korean adult students took us out after class. We went off the beaten path to great restaurants, cultural festivals, and local markets. We even got to bring back a part of Korea with us. We rescued our pet dog, Jimbo, as a stray puppy running around our Army base.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

Before law school, I was a paralegal at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. I've always had an interest in law since I was young. Working as a paralegal reaffirmed my desire to pursue a degree in law. I could then use my degree as a tool to help others. Coming here has strengthened my commitment to public interest law. After I met my husband, I developed an awareness about the unique challenges veterans face, and wanted to find a way to help veterans. My ability to do that expanded when I enrolled in the GGU Veterans Legal Advocacy Center. Through the clinic, I help veterans get the benefits they deserve and need following their military service. Before enrolling in the clinic, I spent the summer as an intern with Swords to Plowshares. I met with clients, reviewed records, and filed applications to the Department of Veterans Affairs. While at Swords, I assisted several military veterans in gaining access to resources and much needed help. Hearing their stories, knowing I could help by explaining the law to those who need it most, has been really rewarding. Through my own interest and experiences here at GGU, I not only have the responsibility to interpret the law, but now have the ability to explain the law too.

What is your favorite thing you do when you are not at law school?

Baking! If I did not pursue a legal career, I would have considered going to culinary school. While I enjoy baking cakes and cookies, I do not have much of a sweet tooth. I prefer to give away what I bake to others so they can enjoy. When not baking sweet treats, I enjoy taking my dog out on long walks in the beautiful hills of the East Bay.

What message/advice do you have for your fellow law students?

Be open to change and the challenges of law school. Your interest in the different areas of law practice may evolve during your time in law school. Law school will challenge the way you think. It will change the way you see the world and yourself in it. You will learn, as I did, that the law is not always black and white. The law allows for shades of gray.

What are you excited about next in your legal career?

Getting licensed so I can really begin helping people address their legal issues -- the opportunity to advise and inform those who need the help of the law that I now understand.

About the interviewer: Paul Gibson is the Director of Administration and Technology Services. When he is not at work he can most often be found exploring his neighborhood near Golden Gate Park, checking out the farmers market, or hosting friends for a weekend dinner or brunch.