Alumni Spotlight: Learning Law, Serving Others
UCI's high school summer
program inspired Ben Boyd
to pursue a law degree.
It seemed inevitable that Ben Boyd would someday
decide to pursue a law degree. After all, he comes from
four generations of attorneys and judges, but the high
school senior's real passion is business. He always
dreamed of owning and running his own company.
Like many young people, his future plans were in flux.
Equipped with a sharp, analytical mind, Boyd seems
well-suited for the business world. He spends time every
day researching the stock market, analyzing trends and
industries. But a passion for serving others also led him to
consider joining the Marine Corps.
“I really wanted to join the Marines, but when I realized
the country was relying less on our military, I decided
I wanted to create my own private security firm to send
overseas,” he said. “The U.S. is using private firms to help
train allied forces, defend local citizens and our own
military personnel. It seemed like a perfect opportunity
to run a successful business and serve America at the
That sparked an interest in business law, a prerequisite for
achieving his new goal. So Boyd enrolled in UCI's High
School Summer Institute in Law, an intense one-week
program taught by UCI law faculty.
gave him a real-world taste of what law school would
be like, with lectures, simulated court cases and up-close
interaction with attorneys and judges.
The experience was a turning point. For the first time,
Boyd was drawn to the legal profession. It's certainly in
his blood. Starting from his great grandfather, generations
of numerous family members went on to become
Currently a student at Bellevue High School in
Washington, Boyd plans to pursue a law degree after college. But first things first. A few days after taking the
all-important SAT, Boyd caught up with us to chat about
his experience last summer.
Tell me about the attorneys in your family. I understand
you come from a long line of lawyers.
Yes, going back four generations. My mom is an attorney,
and so are her father, uncle, aunt and grandfather.
The furthest back I know of was my great-grandfather,
an L.A. Superior Court judge who took an interest in
child welfare, helping abused and neglected children
through the court system. He believed that when crimes
are committed against children, they need assistance
dealing with the legal proceedings, so he eventually
created CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates
But you weren't interested in studying law, at least at first.
What made you decide to check out the High School
Summer Institute of Law?
I took a business law class my junior year and it really
opened my eyes. I wanted to learn more, but from
teachers with real-world experience. My high school
teacher wasn't an attorney; all she knew was taken from
the course textbook. So I decided I wanted to explore
the subject from a more experienced perspective, and
that's when I learned about the Summer Institute from
my sister. She found out about it while she was taking
a drama class at UC Irvine. It sounded like a great
opportunity, so I decided to apply.
What was it like studying in a real law school setting and
learning from UCI School of Law faculty? Did it meet your
Absolutely, I thought it was fascinating. All of the people
who taught us were experts: UCI law faculty, attorneys,
and current UCI law students. One of our lecturers works
with the Orange County District Attorney's office. And
the projects we were given were very realistic, not really
debates but simulations of real-world courtroom situations
like arguing before the Supreme Court. We also had
guest speakers who were judges, among other things. I
managed to make some personal contacts that might
be helpful down the line. I have been emailing back
and forth with some of the guest speakers ever since the
So the experience helped you decide to study law?
Yeah, the Summer Institute was an incredible experience
and it convinced me to pursue a law degree, but not
necessarily so I can become an attorney. While I don't
plan on becoming a lawyer right now, I do want to learn
about the law, specifically how it applies to private
security firms employed for foreign wars.
What sparked your interest in private security?
I wanted to serve my country, and I was hoping to join
the Marines. I even founded my high school's first Marine
Corps Junior ROTC, a really lengthy process, and I was
unanimously elected to be its first president. But when
I found out that private firms were being used more
and more overseas, I decided that I could serve more
effectively by building and running my own security firm.
A close friend of my mom gave me the idea — she
works for a contractor who deals with the Pentagon.
Business had always been something I was very
interested in, so becoming a business owner and helping
my country at the same time was very appealing, but
I realized I need to learn the international laws that
govern these firms.
What were your favorite aspects of the Summer Institute?
I'd have to say the realistic, simulated hearings and trials.
For instance, our final project was arguing a Supreme
Court case on freedom of speech that involved classroom
prayer at a Missouri school. And we argued before
a panel of judges, just like a real Supreme Court hearing.
The class was divided into two groups and I was
assigned to the side that argued against school prayer.
During the process we learned that freedom of speech
on campus didn't apply to sanctioned religious prayers
at school. Earlier in the program, there was an interesting
case about a traffic accident that killed a motorcycle
driver who didn't have his headlight on at night. There
was a lot of conflicting evidence, and we had to decide
if it was murder or manslaughter.
Overall, the entire experience was fascinating and very
rewarding, and I want to express my gratitude to the
staff for all their help. The Summer Institute allowed me
to find my direction and convinced me to pursue a law
degree in order to serve others. I'm very grateful for that.
Learn more about the High School Summer Institute in Law at