JD, McGeorge School of Law
As a student at McGeorge School of Law, Carmen-Nicole Cox took advantage of networking opportunities, both on and off campus.
She met alumni at on-campus gatherings, where she was also a member of the Black Law Student Association, organizing and attending BLSA's First Friday events at the homes of local attorneys and judges. Cox attended many off-campus law events courtesy of the Career Development Office where she met many McGeorge alums. Through these events, she cultivated a wide-ranging network, which helped get her resume in front of a hiring partner at a large firm in Sacramento and her first interview there. McGeorge's strong alumni network helped Cox decide to build her career in Sacramento.
With a bachelor's degree in political science from Fisk University in Nashville, Cox says she felt that law was the best professional option for her. At McGeorge, she spent a year on law review, served as a judicial extern for U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman at the Eastern District of California. In that role, she wrote proposed recommendations and opinions for him. "It was a very humbling experience because you don't want to take that kind of opportunity or authority lightly, especially being a student," she says. Cox also worked for Presiding Justice Vance Raye as a post-bar judicial clerk in the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.
After graduating from McGeorge in 2011, Cox practiced for Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin's Sacramento office as an associate. She practiced complex business litigation, property and land-use litigation, employment litigation, financial law, and food and agriculture law. Many of her clients were large businesses with issues ranging from breaches of fiduciary duty, lease breaches, and employee theft. Interestingly, some of Cox' clients are involved in the multimillion-dollar state-regulated industry of inedible kitchen grease (IKG). Cox helped IKG clients, including transporters and recyclers, deal with changing state regulations, and regulators threatening to shut them down or suspend their licenses.
In September 2015 Cox joined the Office of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. as a Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary. In June 2017, she was appointed chief of legislative affairs for administration at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Cox considers herself a problem-solver and enjoys helping clients resolve their disputes. When she's able to identify the root of a dispute, "especially when the problem I've identified is not the argument that the parties have been having, I feel like I'm doing my job," she says. McGeorge's classes, she says, introduced her to real-world problems. Through the school for example, she served as a hearing officer for the cities of Sacramento and Elk Grove, deciding parking ticket appeals.
Since the start of her legal career, Cox has been doing monthly pro bono work at the Sacramento County Public Law Library and is a mentor for McGeorge's Career Development office. "I have been unbelievably blessed to have so many people give me their time with no expectation of reciprocity," she says, explaining why she volunteers. Cox serves on the boards of the Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association, Sacramento's African American bar association, and the Women Lawyers of Sacramento.