A while back, my profile was featured on my law school's website. I spoke with the writer Joe Martin several times over a period of a couple of months, so I was excited to read what he'd written. I was pleased with the write up - it focuses on all of the facets of my life - not just Football Wives. I really did have a wonderful experience in law school and credit the training and support I received at King Hall School of Law for my passing two bar exams (first try both times)!
I received an email from the marketing director at the law school today - UC Davis (the campus, not the law school) posted a link to my profile on its Facebook page yesterday. Apparently the link broke the Davis Facebook page record for "clickthroughs" - I'm not sure how many there were, but I think that's kind of cool.
Anyway, here is the profile - thanks to Joe Martin for an excellent write-up!
Class of 2002
“I wasn’t your typical law student,” said Dawn Belcher-Neufeld ’02, “but I’m someone who can serve as an example to show that you can go to law school and still have a full and balanced life. I think King Hall allowed me to just be me, and I am who I am today because of it.”
Belcher-Neufeld, who was Law Students Association president while at King Hall and has passed the bar in both California and Texas, practices corporate law and estate planning with a small firm in Dallas. She is also a model, an actress whose marriage to former professional football player Ryan Neufeld led to a starring role in the VH1 reality show Football Wives, as well as an active volunteer for charity organizations including Off the Field and Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids.
“I loved everything about the Law School: its small size, the amazing faculty, the way that the dean and the professors always had an open door.” A native of Los Angeles, Belcher-Neufeld came to Davis from UCLA, where she had majored in Communications Studies and dabbled in modeling and acting. She and Ryan were engaged at the time, and she spent her first year at King Hall planning their wedding while adjusting to the academic challenges of law school while he was in Florida playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It wasn’t easy, and I did have a few Legally Blonde moments trying to come up with answers in class,” she said. “But by my final year, I was LSA president and giving the ‘welcome’ speech to incoming students, and I referenced Legally Blonde, so I kind of came full circle.”
Belcher-Neufeld said she “can’t say enough good things about King Hall” and how the Davis community and Law School helped her to meet the challenges. “Davis is the perfect town to be attending law school in—small enough so that you’re not caught up in the hustle and bustle of a big city or spending time stuck in traffic, but close to Sacramento and the Bay Area if you need to get away.
After law school, Belcher-Neufeld passed the bar in California and practiced with a firm in Los Angeles until 2003, when she moved to New York while her husband played with the Buffalo Bills. She put her career on hold to have two children, and after the family moved to Dallas in 2009 she passed the bar in Texas and resumed legal practice. She still does some modeling and acting, though “it’s not a priority,” she said.
Belcher-Neufeld said she got involved in the Football Wives program because she wanted audiences to see “what life is really like beyond the glitz and glamour of what people imagine professional football players’ lives are like.” Short careers, financial struggles, and lasting injuries are all-too-common, she said, although the program focused more on interpersonal conflicts. “Drama is what sells, so they focus on the drama,” she said.
Belcher-Neufeld continues to juggle acting and modeling offers and the demands of motherhood—including the responsibilities of caring for an autistic child—as she works to resume her legal career. She remains thankful to UC Davis School of Law for providing her with not only a first-rate legal education but also a growth experience that has helped her cope with the wide range of challenges she faces.
“I’m so much of a richer person because of what I experienced at King Hall,” she said. “The faculty is just unrivalled, and they know their students personally and really care about them. The students are supportive and help each other in every way they can. For me, this was the perfect place to study law.”