Featured graduate profiles


Education off the back burner

by A. Kenyatta Greer

Anthony ReFour
“Even after 15 years as a police officer, I have learned things about myself, and I’ve learned things about the law.”

So says Anthony ReFour 22L, who earned a juris master degree from Emory University School of Law in May 2022. He’s spent the last five years in undergraduate and graduate school, after delaying his academic aspirations for years. Now, a journey that began working at Emory is beginning anew with a degree from the school of law. 

ReFour had been building his law enforcement career ever since he started working at a sheriff’s office at 18. A DeKalb County police officer in 2013, he and some of his colleagues were assigned to work an Emory commencement ceremony. Among the thousands gathered to celebrate graduating Emory students, he met several Emory Police Department officers who told him stories about working at the university. He also heard about the courtesy scholarship that Emory employees could use after meeting certain service requirements.

“A lot of people don’t understand that Emory is one of the best kept secrets in the game. It’s such a good place to work. The police department is also really hard to get into, but I gave it a shot and applied, and they accepted me.” But now that ReFour had his dream job, his education was put on hold once again. In 2017, he finally prioritized himself, starting an undergraduate program at Reinhardt college studying criminal justice. Four years later, he spent his last two weeks of his senior year overlapping with the first two weeks of his graduate academic career.

One of ReFour’s co-workers had graduated from the Emory Law juris master program in 2020 and told him that “a degree from Emory is like a key to anything.” ReFour agrees. “I feel like a completely different person from when I started the program. I’m so much more confident in my abilities and understanding of my job. I can grasp some of the finer mechanisms of the legal system in the US. I’ve been involved in the criminal justice system for 17 years, but having this master’s degree has honed my critical thinking and analytical skills. It’s such a good program, because the law permeates so many careers.”

He adds, “Reading documents and understanding the laws and the administrative rules behind your job is very important … so is having a deeper understanding of the case law, the history, the precedents and how police powers are employed across the United States.” Adjunct Professor Heather Ellis Cucolo, who ReFour says taught one of his most impactful classes, Mental Health Law, with passion and zeal, recalls his contributions to the class: “His insight into the issues discussed in the course provided a crucial perspective from law enforcement and highlighted his role in addressing and combating the failures in community mental health support and  provisions.”

“My co-workers have been a huge support, texting me muscle emojis to tell me to stay strong — I have a lot of people in my corner who understand the stresses of being in a program like this and who also understand the rewards,” ReFour says, noting that his wife understood why he needed to do this program. He says she’s been “more supportive than necessary,” recognizing that graduate level education requires a great deal of concentration that meant she spent more time focused on their child. “Now it’s her turn to live out her dream,” he says. “My only regret is that I put my education on the back burner for so long. This experience has been wonderful, and I’m so happy.”




Input = hard work. Output = A whole new future.

by Lisa Ashmore

Tejas Dave
The popular image of a lawyer is one engaged in fiery cross-examination before a rapt jury. But in reality, attorneys’ work is often a silent calculus. The ability to weigh mounds of data and detail against case law and legislation explains why lawyers are essential to regulation and governance.

Tejas Dave 22L was already a success in high-level finance when he arrived at Emory Law for the juris doctor program three years ago at age 25. As a research assistant at UC-Berkeley (where he earned an economics degree) he wrote code for quantitative analysis on topics ranging from super PACs to how U.S. monetary policy announcements ripple across global markets. He’s worked at the Federal Reserve twice. He interned on Capitol Hill as an undergrad. He’s also a thoughtful writer who sees the law as both a tool and a boundary.

“The field I want to go into, bank regulation, is constantly changing,” he said. “Every day is a new thing and that sort of constant change is what makes it exciting. And what I hear from a lot of practitioners is that no two days are the same because there’s always a new set of challenges.”

One example is the work he did last spring to assist Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law Kristin Johnson, who recently was confirmed as a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The research involved cryptocurrency regulation and her testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. 

“I enjoyed the opportunity to think about the regulatory framework around financial innovation and see how some of that thinking influenced policy discussions,” he said. Dave’s paper for Johnson’s seminar class addressed special purpose bank charters and access to payment rails.

In addition to graduating with high honors and joining the Order of the Coif, Dave will also receive the Keith J. Shapiro Corporate Bankruptcy Writing Award for his paper, “Rethinking Roadblocks to Municipal Bankruptcy,” which argues federal bankruptcy courts could be the best venue to resolve municipal distress. Dave was co-president of Emory Law’s American Constitution Society chapter last year, and a Notes & Comments editor for the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal. While he considered getting a PhD in economics, he ultimately chose law school. 

“I was really interested in being back in an environment where you’re learning new things every day. Especially during 1L year I felt that every day I was learning something new, and I was learning something new in four or five different classes,” he said. He laughs when asked if he still uses Python or Stata. 

“A friend told me how quickly I was going to forget how to code,” he said. “But I thought it was a pretty good way of thinking about law school exams — that you have this fact pattern and all sorts of input that’s all over the place. And you put it through this process — the law and the rules that you’ve learned — and you come out with a conclusion.”

Dave says Emory Law stood out because of its strong alumni network, especially in New York. He attended an admitted students event in the city and was impressed that both Emory Law’s dean and dean of admission attended. “And it was good to see so many [alumni] show up on a weekday evening at 6 p.m.,” he adds. He was already considering practice in New York (where his wife is completing a PhD in neuroscience) and the alumni network made it plain that was possible.

Dave was a teaching assistant for Assistant Professor of Practice Kamina Pinder, and also earned the highest grade in her Contracts class. “I feel really lucky to be able to teach and mentor such wonderful students,” she said. “But even among such an impressive student body, Tejas is exceptional.” She called him a natural mentor who “consistently pays it forward.”

“He went above and beyond as my teaching assistant — he offered advice on how to perform well in my class and general law school tips and job search advice. He helped make students feel welcome and supported as they navigated the challenges of the pandemic,” Pinder said. “He is a superstar at Emory, and I expect nothing less in the future.”

Following commencement, Dave starts prep for the New York Bar exam and will join the international firm, Debovoise & Plimpton, this fall. He was a summer associate there and recalls “a lot of discussion about fintech and crypto and how these things interact with the traditional banking sector.” He looks forward to exploring the boundaries and frontiers of global finance.

“There’s always room for being creative and being thoughtful; to say if we want to get from A to B then these are the regulations that we have to navigate through,” Dave said. “I think it opens up a lot of creative problem-solving opportunities, and I think that’s the kind of stuff that will keep me motivated over the course of years in the future.”




A First Amendment class that changed everything

by A. Kenyatta Greer

Marissa Cohen
Marissa Cohen 22L already had a JD when she came to Emory Law— she graduated from Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2021. So, why invest in a master of laws at Emory?

“My first reason—and the nerdiest—for pursuing my LLM was the realization that my JD wasn’t enough to quench my thirst about the law,” she says. Her second reason for taking on a fourth year of law school was to become a legal educator focusing on cannabis law, constitutional law, and criminal procedure.

“What made Emory so perfect for me was what I call its ‘buffet style’ LLM versus a ‘fixed menu’ LLM. For example, many ‘fixed menu’ schools require a strict focus, commonly on tax law, and don’t allow much time to explore other nonrequired courses,” she said. “Emory Law’s ‘buffet style’ allows for a more self guided degree, which essentially made me feel like a kid in a candy store. The school’s expansive and unique course offerings gave me the freedom to take classes totally unavailable to me if I never came to Emory.” Another driving factor for choosing Emory, Cohen added, was the impressive level of faculty scholarship. Their writing, she says, has been instrumental in her areas of study.

In 2016, Cohen managed the first cannabis dispensary on the Las Vegas Strip, a rare hands-on industry experience that most lawyers will never have. “Once I began law school, I started giving lectures on cannabis taxation at law schools, for New York CLEs, and CMEs for health care providers interested in understanding the legal landscape of medicinal cannabis. This is a burgeoning field and I know students will enjoy exposure to it.” 

She believes in the idea of “Pop Culture Constitution,” a reference to how the Constitution touches everything in our daily lives. While guest lecturing in a former professor’s criminal procedure class, she explained it thusly: “I put up on the screen a ‘hypothetical,’ which was actually the lyrics to Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’s,’ second verse. We listened to it, and the students started dancing and rapping along. Then we went through line-by-line to see what Supreme Court cases were involved in determining the constitutionality of perhaps the most famous pre-textual traffic stop of my generation. We found 19 cases on the Fourth Amendment in the verse that the students had memorized.”

 Despite her own lecturing experience, Cohen said Professor John Witte Jr.’s First Amendment class changed the trajectory of her career. “[It] was hands down the most surprisingly influential course I took. Though a Con Law nerd, I confess the First Amendment hadn’t inflamed me the same way the Fourth Amendment did. But, wow! Professor’s course changed all of that. So much so that I ended up changing my postgraduate plans to take a job litigating religious liberty and intra-faith disputes in Manhattan. Never in a million and 35 years would I have guessed that’s where I’d be headed, and all this awesomeness is Professor Witte’s fault!” 

Witte, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, McDonald Distinguished Professor, and CSLR director, said this of Cohen: “Ms. Cohen is the model student that every professor covets. She sat in a front row seat, never missed a beat in class, made powerful interventions, challenged me regularly, and led many class debates about fundamental questions, often employing a formidable left hook. She is a serious legal talent who will be going places in her career!” 

Cohen mentions other influential faculty. “Professor Gerald Weber, who teaches Constitutional Litigation, is in the trenches of protecting plaintiffs every day from constitutional rights violations,” she says. “Professor Randee Waldman is in the trenches fighting for students and children to have their most basic needs for survival met. I saw some powerful leaders dedicated to making the world a better place, and what this degree showed me is I need to get in the game and use my skills like them. It’s such a privilege to have a law degree, and it’s my responsibility to take it and help protect anyone I can.”

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