The COVID-19 pandemic may keep Amoreena L. Bua from walking across the stage at The Forum in Harrisburg on May 17, but it won’t stand in the way of a plan she’s been working on for nearly 20 years – to become an attorney.
Bua, who goes by the nickname Amy, is finishing the law school’s extended evening division this semester, and throughout her legal education has continued her fulltime work as a paralegal with Family Design Resources, a nonprofit providing legal services for child welfare programs in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. She works exclusively for the Lancaster County Children and Youth Social Services Agency (CYS) on dependency proceedings and terminations of parental rights.
A Lancaster native and resident, Bua graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 2001.
“I had always wanted to go to law school, but put my plans on hold when I was expecting our second child my senior year of college,” Bua said. She focused on her children, staying home for nine years. When she was ready to return to work, she accepted a job at the same Lancaster CYS agency she works with today, but at that time as a caseworker, investigating child abuse and neglect reports.
“Once I was back at work, my thoughts kept returning to law school. At a certain point, I knew I had to either go for it or put it out of my mind,” she said.
Bua jumped in, taking the LSAT and eventually applying to Widener Law Commonwealth.
“I didn’t apply anywhere else,” she said. “My husband owns a restaurant, Sal’s Pizza in Willow Street, and our daughters were in school in Lancaster. Moving was out of the question,” Bua said. “I also wanted to keep working. Widener just made sense, and they were also generous in the aid they offered me.”
Bua said that having high school and middle school age children made it a little easier for her to add law school into to an already busy schedule. She said the key was being very structured with time.
“Not being home much in the evenings has been hard,” she said. “But now that it’s almost over, it feels like it went fast. And my family has been so supportive of me, which has made all the difference.”
Bua said that she knows her children have been impacted in a good way by her going back to school. “They have seen what you can do if you are determined and put your mind to it,” she said. Her oldest daughter is in nursing school in Lancaster, her youngest in a junior in high school.
Bua has a long list of law school accomplishments. Together with 3L Mike Joyce, she was on the winning trial advocacy team at the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County Annual Academy Mock Trial in February; her team placed second in 2019. She was a member of the Trial Advocacy Honor Society, serving as its secretary and external vice president. She has been on the Dean’s List for the past three years and was recognized in multiple classes throughout law school with the “CALI Award” for having the highest grade.
Working as a research assistant to Professor Christopher J. Robinette, Bua contributed to his portion of Harper, James, and Gray on Torts. She also participated as a “Practicum Participant” in the Second Chance Clinic with MidPenn Legal Services and as a volunteer at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Clinic program.
Bua has accepted a one-year clerkship with Judge Donald R. Totaro in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas for this fall. She said she is keeping an open mind about her goals for her legal practice, saying only that she is fairly certain it will include work in a courtroom.
Bua said that the transition to staying at home to finish the school year while working at home for her job during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an adjustment for her after all these years of running.
“I miss the structure of going to campus. I’ve been on strict schedule for the past four years, and now I’m working from home, going to school from home, and everyone in my family is at home, too, I’m having to get my bearings, like everyone else,” she said.
“We’re taking this one day at time,” she said.
Interview was conducted in Spring 2020.
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