Derek Segars ’23 comes from a family of Detroit public servants and has always placed a strong value on it as a result. “My great-grandfather was a bus driver for the City of Detroit, my grandfather was a police officer, my father was a fire safety inspector and arson investigator, and my mother was a social worker for 25 years,” said Derek. “I grew up surrounded by public servants and understanding the importance of dedicating your career to helping others.”
Derek spent much of his childhood in Detroit, only having moved to the suburbs once he reached 9th grade. “Detroit is over 70% African American and the suburb my family moved to was predominantly white. This was a culture shock for me and adapting to my new environment was challenging. Until 9th grade, I had spent my entire life being surrounded by black people. For the first time, I experienced outward racism and discrimination. That stark juxtaposition from Detroit to the suburbs motivated me and continues to motivate me as I pursue my law degree.”
Derek chose Pace because he is confident it is the right school to get him one step closer to his goal of helping others as an attorney one day. “Pace is a very special place. Both the professors and student body make the law school experience positive and unforgettable. Professor Betty Lawrence Lewis has been instrumental in developing my advocacy skills and continues to support me and mentor me as I apply to jobs and internships. Professor Josh Galperin and Professor Elyse Diamond have also been extremely supportive and continue to provide me with advice and mentorship as I finish my last year of law school. And, I have felt such a sense of camaraderie from my classmates – we are all here to uplift each other and celebrate each other.”
"Pace is a very special place. Both the professors and student body make the law school experience positive and unforgettable."
During his time at Haub Law, Derek has had many opportunities to be an active participant in his law school experience. “I was able to participate in the DC externship. It was an amazing experience and the professors were very supportive and continue to serve as mentors to the participants.” Derek also serves as President of the 2022-2023 Black Law Students Association (BLSA), as a board member and Director of Gender Diversity and LBGTQIA+ Services for the North East Chapter of BLSA, as a student member of the Faculty Hiring Committee, and he is also a member of the BLSA mock trial team at Haub Law.
As for the future, Derek’s biggest goal is to be a decision-maker one day and serve the public. He notes that this could mean “running for office, working in a government agency, starting my own advocacy organization, or becoming a professor.” As far as an immediate goal, Derek hopes to practice environmental law after graduation and pursue a fellowship or clerkship with the federal government.
Derek has an important piece of advice for future law students. “Relationship building is essential to your future career. Start now. And, advocate for yourself. Be confident in your intellect. Be confident in your capabilities. Be confident in your moral compass that led you to law school and always be vocal about your goals and what you need from others to get there.”
Outside of law school, Derek is an avid swimmer. He loves the outdoors and frequently spends days at local parks with a blanket and picnic basket in the summer. He is skilled in ceramics and wheel-throwing. Derek also enjoys spending time with his sister, Taylor, who is a quadriplegic and as he describes her, “the happiest person I know.” He also enjoys being with his big and close-knit family in Detroit, who he credits with motivating him on his law school journey and celebrating his accomplishments.