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UHLC student Mackay shares journey from decorated Green Beret to law school

March 5, 2024 – Roger Mackay served in the army as a Green Beret for almost a decade and received the Bronze Star. After his military service, he decided to pursue a career as an attorney and enrolled in law school.  

Mackay is a 2L who transferred to UHLC last fall 2023. He encourages law students to not compare themselves to others and instead focus on their own goals and achievements.

Mackay will be working with Gray Reed as a summer associate this year.

Name: David Segal Hometown: Houston, Texas Year: University of Houston Law Center 3L

Roger Mackay, University of Houston Law Center 2L

Name: David Segal Hometown: Houston, Texas Year: University of Houston Law Center 3L

What led you to pursue a legal education at UHLC?

I attended the University of Texas at San Antonio for my undergrad before transferring to the University of Houston because it was closer to home. I dropped out of the University of Houston in 2010 to join the military and spent about 10 years in the army as a Green Beret. I had my first daughter right before a deployment to Afghanistan. Having my first kid changed my whole perspective. While I was on a deployment, I decided to pursue other opportunities and I started developing a plan and ultimately decided to go to law school.

I re-enlisted in the army for three years and pursued a business degree and I took the LSAT once. I then left the army and applied to law schools and UHLC was where I really wanted to come. However, I didn’t get into UHLC in the first round, and I ended up retaking the LSAT. I attended another law school, and while I had a great time at that law school, there were so many reasons why I wanted to come to UHLC.

I transferred schools since my goal was always to get to UHLC. There are just so many benefits to coming to a school like UHLC. In Houston, UHLC is arguably the best law school, there are so many courses offered here, the legal market here is great and UHLC has good job prospects for their graduates of course.

I also attended UH back in 2010 and it was kind of like an unfinished business type thing. I wanted to finish what I started coming here for undergrad and law school would be even better to graduate from.

In what ways did your experience as a Green Beret help in law school?

Being a Green Beret takes a lot of planning and commitment, but also being able to adapt. Discipline and the ability to adapt to the walls that come up in front of you and being able to get around those are probably some of the biggest things that I learned throughout my time in the military.

Getting into law school is so hard, it takes a lot of planning, commitment, and dedication. Because when you decide that you want to do something, it’s easy to find reasons not to do it.

You have to be able to adapt to whatever happens on the fly. No matter how detailed a plan you make, something can always happen that derails it, and you have to adapt.

What were some of your favorite professors/memories here?

I’ve been here for a semester and two weeks now but there’s plenty of memories already. Law school is full of memories from day one. You go through 1L and you’re in your section, so everybody gets close, you’re all going through this new experience together. But for transfers, that whole process starts over. I didn’t feel like I was starting over at UHLC, it’s been great.  

My first semester I took a Trial Advocacy for Non-Litigators class where we had to do two trials. The midterm was the bench trial, and the final exam was a full-blown jury trial at the courthouse in Harris County so that was a great experience.

What does your upcoming work with Gray Reed mean to you?

It really is a dream come true, especially at a firm like Gray Reed. After going through the interview process, meeting people from Gray Reed through the interview process, it just felt perfect. And when they offered me the position, I didn’t even have to think about it. I accepted immediately and it seems perfect really and I can’t wait to get started this summer with Gray Reed.

What is one valuable lesson you learned at UHLC?

Law school is so competitive just by its nature, that it’s easy to compare yourself to other people.

Just remember that everybody’s path is different. Don’t get discouraged by looking at other people, don’t let other people’s failures or achievements get in the way of you pursuing your goals.

What advice do you have for individuals considering law school?

If someone wants to go to law school, they must understand that it starts when you decide you want to go and you must be prepared to put in the amount of time, effort, and energy you're willing to put in what you hope to get out of it.

If you want to do something, look for ways to do it. Don’t focus on reasons why you shouldn’t do something, consider them but don’t let them control you.

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