Kevin Reali: Sailing through law school

Kevin Reali. Photo by Brian Vandervliet.

Kevin Reali. Photo by Brian Vandervliet.

By Bianca Lopez

Kevin Reali, an upcoming graduate, set sail for law school after five years of serving in the Navy. However, the part-time student didn’t trade his sea legs for casebooks; he balances his studies with working full-time at Eckerd College, coaching the sailing team.

Following his undergraduate career at the University of South Florida – where Reali studied engineering and competed on the sailing team, he served in the Navy and worked as a Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer. He worked in the private sector after the Navy, but knew he wanted to further his education.

Reali reasoned that, given his engineering background, he could find success in intellectual property law. However, he soon realized that the analytical skills he acquired through engineering apply to every aspect and form of law.

“I came to law school and thought I knew exactly what I was going to do, but I didn’t know anything about law,” Reali said. “It wasn’t like I’d been waiting my whole life to do law, it just ended up being the right thing and, in hindsight, it was a lucky choice because I really have enjoyed it.”

Reali’s full-time job, coaching a team of 32 college students, is seven days a week when the team is in season. His work begins in the afternoon on weekdays and the sailing team has competitions on the weekends. Because of this schedule, Reali typically prepares for class on weekday mornings.

“[My job] is uniquely set up very well for going to school part-time because I can devote part of my day in the office to doing some reading or preparation,” Reali said. “I’d rather have more work with flexibility than a set number of hours with no flexibility.”

Along with his full-time job and part-time studies, Reali also balances his memberships in both Law Review and Moot Court.

“[Being a part-time student] is hard, but it’s a conscious decision to balance school and work or take on debt,” said Reali.

With Moot Court and Law Review, Reali said he has developed a stronger peer network than through classes alone.

“When I started law school, I didn’t think I was going to be involved in any organizations,” Reali said. “I just thought, ‘I’m a part-time student, I’m going to do my work and I’m going to disappear and that’s all I’m going to do.’ The Moot Court competition schedule can be challenging with my work schedule, but Professor Bowman has been really good to me and I still got to participate, still got to do competitions, but she was also understanding when it wouldn’t work. Moot Court is really rewarding; you get to write, you get to work with professors, you get to network with coaches that come in and volunteer their time.”

Reali looks forward to his legal career and hopes to one day work in litigation, using his engineering background to break down technical cases.

“I appreciate the flexibility [at Stetson]. Not all schools have a part-time program and even if they have a part-time program, I wouldn’t expect that a professor would appreciate the conflicting time demands of a part-time student,” Reali said. “I never felt singled out or like it was hurting me to be a part-time student.”

This semester, Reali’s 10th and final semester at Stetson, has been a long time coming. Though it’s been a challenge, he’s literally sailed through law school.