Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024

Meet Our 2024 Summer Associates! Introducing Nick Peal and Peyton Smetana  

We are thrilled to introduce the two outstanding law students joining the firm as Summer Associates this year. Please welcome Nick Peal and Peyton Smetana, who bring with them academic achievements and a passion for legal excellence.  

Nick Peal is a rising third year student at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. Nick’s accomplishments in law school thus far include being the recipient of the Dean’s Merit Academic Scholarship, making the Dean’s List, and serving as Staff Editor on the CUA Law Review. Additionally, Nick is the Treasurer of the Italian American Law Students Association and is a member of Phi Alpha Delta.  

Nick comes to the firm with legal internship experience in the United States Attorney’s Office, Special Proceedings Division, at Jones, Walker, & Lake P.C., and the Virginia Beach General District Court’s Criminal Division. 

Peyton Smetana is a rising third year student at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. Peyton’s impact at Catholic Law is widespread through his accomplishments and involvements. He is the incoming Executive Editor of Vol. 74 of the CUA Law Review, having already served as Staff Editor. Additionally, he is the Public Relations Chair for the LGBTQ+ Law Student Association and a member of both Phi Alpha Delta and the National Trial Team. He also served as Director of Communications for the Student Bar Association. 

Peyton comes to the firm with experience as a Summer Legal Intern for Just Neighbors, a Research Assistant for the Columbus School of Law, and a Corps Member with Teach for America. 


Get to know a little more about both Nick and Peyton Below!  


What inspired you to pursue a career in law? 

Nick: I have always had a passion for helping people. I majored in criminology and criminal justice in undergrad but then took a liking to my judicial system philosophy courses. Some of my professors and family recommended looking into law school as a career path. 

Peyton: I always found myself in places where having an impact on people was possible, have that be in theatre or classroom setting. However, I quickly learned the impact I had on people through theatre was limited and not guaranteed, and as for being an educator, I could only do so much for my students with limited resources and an environment that did not value student growth. A career in law, in my opinion, creates a higher chance for me to have a more direct, personal, and substantial impact for the people I will work for, whatever matter it may be. 

What area of law are you most passionate about? 

Nick: I thoroughly enjoyed my property and decedents’ estates courses, but I am also passionate about constitutional law and more specifically civil liberties. 

Peyton: All things property oriented. From intellectual property to trusts & estates, my property courses have kept me the most engaged and excited about learning. 

What’s one surprising thing people might not know about you? 

Nick: I was born in Sicily, Italy. 

Peyton: I am related to a famous Czech Composer, Bedřich Smetana, who has his own museum and statue in Prague. 

What are you most looking forward to learning or experiencing during your summer with Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, & Walsh? 

Nick: This is my first experience in a private practice environment since starting law school. I am looking forward to experiencing and learning about how an office runs, how to build relationships with clients, and meeting all the people that make this firm work. 

Peyton: Land Use & Zoning is not something they teach or offer at my law school, so having the opportunity to be fully immersed in and learn how this unique practice functions between the client, the jurisdiction, and the community will be invaluable. As for transactions, I am tremendously excited about practicing and gaining transactional skills I have only theoretically read about in school thus far. Added bonus, it’s in an area of the law that I am actually interested in! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far in your legal studies? 

Nick: On one of the first days of law school my professor told the class that no one wants a doctor or surgeon who just mailed it in during medical school. No one wants that lawyer either. 

Peyton: Two things will get you disbarred: (1) haste and (2) friends. Take your time and double check your work. Be careful about what you are being asked to do by the people you think have your best interest in mind. 

If you could work on any type of case, what would it be and why? 

Nick: Any case with a client that I enjoy working for and a matter that combines my interest in property law and my interest in constitutional law. 

Peyton: I recently wrote a law review article on Copyright’s Fair Use Defense. So if I had to pick a type of case to work on right now, it would be a claim for copyright infringement, arguing against a finding of fair use. 

What’s one goal you hope to achieve during your summer? 

Nick: I hope to become a more competent and efficient legal thinker. Just in the few days I’ve been here I am surprised at the wealth of knowledge all the people in the office have at the ready to answer any kind of question. 

Peyton: By the end of the summer associate program, I hope to have done at least one assignment, hopefully more, for every attorney in the Arlington office, Land Use & Transactions. I want to absorb as much as possible during my time here.