Chance Maginness ‘22
Hi Chance, welcome to the Hot Bench! Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I’m from a small town in Kansas called Westmoreland, but I went to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, so sometimes I feel like I’m more from there.
How many people live in Westmoreland?
Oh god, I would say less than 500. It’s tiny.
What else can you tell us about this tiny town?
Back in the 18th century, there was a law that whoever held the county records held the county seat. So a group of people from Westmoreland snuck out in the dead of night and stole the records from Wamego and drove them back in a covered wagon. Westmoreland has been the county seat ever since, and it was the most interesting thing to happen to the town...until I got there, of course.
How did you learn that?
It’s a town story that’s been passed down. I feel like I googled it once.
When did you start thinking about law school?
When I was in high school. I did a lot of debate and forensics. Other schools might call it something else, but forensics covered speeches, acting, and extemporaneous speaking, which is when you have thirty minutes to prepare a speech on a current events topic. I read a lot to keep up with the news, and once you become informed you can’t be uninformed anymore. Plus, I wanted to have an impact. It was going to be either law school or art school.
Are you an artist?
No. That’s what’s really ironic about it. At the time, though, I thought I could be.
Let’s say law school does work out, what then?
At some point in time I want to move back into politics. I was a field organizer for the Democrats in Nevada during the 2018 cycle. I really liked organizing and I would go back—assuming that the republic still exists. If I stick with the law, I would probably like to move into academia at some point, probably in some field related to constitutional law.
Why constitutional law?
I really like the theory of it. I really enjoy the idea that it’s a written document that we can read so much into. Yuval Noah Harari talked about it in his book, Sapiens. He talks about how the law and everything we believe in are collective myths that we agree to. I think the Constitution really embodies that and I like the nuance and challenge of interpreting it.
Are you looking forward to Con Law next semester?
I’m so excited.
What else do you do around the Law School?
Well, all I have time for right now is reading, more reading, and additional reading on the side. I’m involved in Law Dems, LAMBDA, SBA, and FYC. When law school settles down a little, I’d like to watch a movie now and then. Maybe rewatch an episode of Scream Queens. Eat. Breathe.
Why did you run for First Year Council?
I didn’t run, they just sort of told me I would do it. I had done student government before though, so I felt up to the task. At KU, I ran for Freshman Senate, and when I got it, I kept going. I had this idea that I wanted to be Student Body President, but at a certain point, it stopped being about that goal. I realized we had the opportunity to make an impact in everyone’s lives. It became about doing what public service is ultimately about—doing public good. I grew up a lot in college, in that regard.
Why run for 1L Senator?
Well, I ran for Senator and FYC President. I’m a big believer that if you’re in an elected position, you should do all you can do. I have a pretty expansive background in student government—at my undergrad, I was in charge of allocating over twenty-one million dollars to various student services, groups, and clubs.
As a 1L Senator, what are your plans?
Community is very important to me. People should feel that they can rely on one another and I want to make sure everything we do is geared towards involving the 1Ls as much as possible.
Let’s do a lightning round!
Favorite place in Charlottesville?
Shenandoah Joe on Preston.
Watching reruns of American Horror Story.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Estes Park, Colorado, because I love it. The mountains are so beautiful and it never gets above 70 degrees in the summer. If I had all the money in the world, I would open a bookstore in Estes Park and never have a concern in the world.
What is your least favorite sound?
The sound of people popping their joints. I once broke my ankle and it made the same sound. I can’t hear people pop their joints without getting a twinge.
Where’s a place you’ve never been, but would like to go?
Probably anywhere in Asia. I’ve been to a lot of places in Europe and traveled a lot of the United States. Thailand. I’ll say that.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to go to the movies. I used to go 2-3 times a week. I also like watching TV to think about the production of it and I critique it in real time. People hate watching TV with me.
What’s one movie that left an impression on you?
Heathers, I also love the musical.
If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?
I would probably open my own media company that would be a progressive answer to Fox News. If I won a lot of money, I would use it to produce movies.
You win enough money to produce one movie. What’s your movie about?
It’s about a student government election that takes over two days. And it’s about three people vying for the student body presidency, and it’d be based on my own experiences about how truly vicious that can become.
“Student Government,” but that feels really basic. Maybe, “SBP” for Student Body President. Genuinely unsure. That’s a post-production problem.
If you could pick one song to play in the background of your life, what would it be?
Proud Mary by Tina Turner & Ike. Tina always goes first.
If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?
I would require everyone to have a three-day driving-course from me, in which I instruct them on how to put their foot down on the gas and go. “Efficiency and Driving with Chance Maginness.”
What’s your favorite thing about the Law School?
The availability of cold brew every day and getting to say hi to Mandy. I literally survive on cold brew. It runs through my blood. I come to ScoCo every morning without fail. Sometimes I come back mid-day.