Affiliation with Cal State Dominguez Hills Yields Two New Degree Programs
Southwestern has established two exciting new programs in cooperation with California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH): a joint J.D./M.A. program, and a 3+3 program through which students can earn their B.A. and J.D. degrees in six years.
The Joint J.D./M.A. Program enables graduate students to complete a J.D. degree at Southwestern while concurrently earning an M.A. degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding from CSUDH. The 3+3 Option Program allows selected CSUDH students who meet program requirements to enter law school at Southwestern after completing just three years of undergraduate study at CSUDH.
In his announcement about the new programs, Dean Bryant Garth said, "This new collaboration presents a splendid opportunity for Southwestern to expand our law students' academic experiences and credentials, and to encourage promising undergraduate students from a wide range of backgrounds to pursue a legal education at Southwestern." Read more.
Southwestern's Student Santas
No matter how difficult economic times are, Southwestern's student organizations show their commitment to spreading some holiday cheer by bringing the law school community together to help those in need. The Latino Law Students Association (LLSA) is sponsoring its Seventh Annual Toy Drive for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade classes at Hoover Elementary School. Each child has written a letter to Santa asking for one special gift (valued at approximately $20). Last year, more than 900 gifts were delivered to the students. For some, these toys will be the only gift they receive. This year, LLSA has partnered with local television station TV Azteca and hopes to expand the gift giving efforts beyond the second grade with their assistance.
"It is truly heartwarming and inspiring to be a part of this LLSA philanthropy. I am sure all those who take part in this wonderful tradition of giving can agree that words cannot describe the joy and fulfillment one experiences when watching the children receive exactly what they asked Santa for Christmas," LLSA co-president Miriam Ali said. Those still interested in contributing can pick up a "Letter to Santa" by emailing email@example.com.
The deadline for toy donations is the date of the final wrapping party - Saturday, December 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Toys can be dropped off at Vice Dean Parrish's Office in BW423; the wrapping party will take place in the BW 3rd floor conference room. Monetary donations are also gladly accepted ($20 per child - make checks payable to "Southwestern Law School" with "LLSA Toy Drive" written in the memo). Santas will deliver the gifts to Hoover students on Friday, December 19. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Dean Parrish's Office for more information.
"Fast Times in Hollywood: Keeping Up With Cutting Edge Issues in Entertainment and Media Law" to be Discussed at MLRC/Biederman Institute Conference
Reality Television has become a forum for discovering new talent. Once relegated to the tabloids, celebrity media now infiltrates the Internet, mainstream publications and TV news. Product placement, sponsorship and in-text advertising now blur the line between creative and editorial substance verses promotional content, complicating deal making and legal issues. In three panels, the Sixth Annual Media Law Resource Center/Southwestern conference will feature prominent entertainment attorneys and legal scholars who will explore the uncertain and quickly evolving legal landscape connected with these issues. The event, offering four hours of CLE credit, will take place on January 15, 2009 from 2:15 to 7:00 p.m. on the Southwestern campus. Click here for more information.
SAVE THE DATE
Southwestern Law Review presents a symposium
The Evolution of J.D. Programs -
Is NON-Traditional Becoming MORE Traditional?
Saturday, February 21, 2009
More information to come in the next issue!
Summer Options and Opportunities for the First-Year Student
Find out about all of the options and opportunities available for your first summer in law school on Tuesday, January 13 at 12:30 p.m. in W511. Information will be presented regarding summer abroad programs, summer school, externships, working in a law firm, working in public interest, becoming a research assistant for a professor, volunteering, as well as the Law Review and Law Journal "write on" competition. This is a must-attend event for all first-year students.
Orientation Set for Public Interest Career Day
In preparation for Public Interest Career Day, where students can interview with a variety of public interest employers, government agencies and law firms, a mandatory orientation program will take place on Wednesday, January 14 at 12:30 & 5 p.m. in W311. Topics covered include participation guidelines, funding options and applicable hiring criteria.
Never Too Early to Have a Stellar Resume
The winter break is a good time to get that resume together. The Career Services Office (CSO) offers winning resume samples in their office or online. You can also get some tips and advice at the Resume/Cover Letter Preparation Workshop on Thursday, January 15 at 12:30 and 5 p.m. in W311.
Applying to Law Firms for a Job?
On Tuesday, January 27 at 12:30 and 5 .p.m, the CSO will be presenting a workshop on "Locating and Applying to Law Firms." Learn how to find your target pool of employers. Once located, what do you do next to ensure a perfect application? Come to this workshop and find out.
Careers in Government Panel
Government Career Day will be held on February 28, and in anticipation of that event, the CSO will host a practitioner panel on "Careers in the Government" on Thursday, January 29 at 12:30 pm in W311. Listen to government lawyers talk about what they do in their jobs. This is your chance to ask questions of a variety of government lawyers and help decide if government lawyering is the career for you.
Additional information regarding the above events is available from the Career Services Office.
Southwestern Hosts "Project Access"
Southwestern is proud to be the Los Angeles host for Project Access, a dynamic new interactive mentoring program that is a grant-funded collaboration between the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the Hispanic National Bar Foundation (HNBF) and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The program's inaugural 2008-2009 academic year is taking place in Los Angeles and Chicago.
At the November 7 kickoff event held on Southwestern's campus, more than 50 attendees, including advisory board members, mentors and mentees, learned about the program, got to know each other and gathered in smaller groups to set goals and discuss future events. As a host, Southwestern actively recruited and accepted approximately 25 to 30 of its own students as mentees for the year-long program. This includes Hispanic and non-Hispanic students in their first, second, or third year of law school. Southwestern will host several additional events on campus involving all Los Angeles mentors and mentees. At least one event will focus on training mentees and another will be a mock trial. Read more.
Taylor Library Hours for December and January
Reading Week and Finals: December 4-19
Students may also study after hours until 2:00 a.m. on the third floor and Tea Room in the Bullocks Wilshire Building and the second floor of the Westmoreland Building. (Some exceptions for special events.)
- Monday - Friday: 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
- Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
- Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
- Friday, December 19: 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Winter Break: December 20 - January 4
- Saturday - Sunday, December 20 - 21: 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
- Monday, December 22 through Sunday, December 28: CLOSED
- Monday, December 29: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, December 30: 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 31 and Thursday, January 1: CLOSED
- Friday, January 2: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday, January 3: 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
- Sunday, January 4: 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
New Staff and Promotions
Lina Hablian, Financial Aid Counselor, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Liberty University. Ms. Hablian possesses a great deal of experience in the areas of accounting, business systems and customer service and has served as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of China Pearl, Textbook Coordinator at DeVry Online University, Accounting Administrator at Dickson Podley Realtors, and as an Escalations Systems Analyst for Earthlink.
Eric Kula, Institutional Advancement Assistant, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Master of Research in Social and Political Thought from the University of Sussex in England; and Master of Arts in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University, University Park. Mr. Kula is currently a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at Penn State and is working on his thesis, which focuses on the effects of technology in border security. Prior to joining Southwestern, Mr. Kula was a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Lecturer in Political Science at Penn State and an Embassy Political Intern at the United States State Department in Moscow.
Peggy Loewy-Wellisch, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees with honors from The City College of New York. Ms. Loewy-Wellisch possesses extensive financial aid experience which includes serving as Campus Director of Financial Aid and District Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Miami-Dade Community College, Associate Vice President of Student Financial Services and Registration at Nova Southeastern University, and Consultant in Financial Aid at Lansing Community College. Most recently, she was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to train the financial aid community on regulatory requirements.
Southwestern is pleased to announce the following staff promotions:
- Samantha Albright, SCALE Office Associate
- Marcie Canal, Associate Director, Administrative Services
- Marissa Rodríguez-Canché, Academic Affairs Associate
- Queli Go, Network Services Coordinator, Management Information Systems
- Tom Hall, Library Acquisitions and Financial Manager, Law Library
- Sean Kao, Senior Assistant Director, Management Information Systems
- Anel Mora, Financial Aid Associate
- Katrina Nierva, Student Affairs Coordinator
- Paulette Palafox, Associate Director, Admissions
- Phi Ramli, Controller, Accounting
- Doug Snyder, Senior Assistant Director, Administrative Services/Media Technologies Specialist
- Alma Vitela, Registration and Academic Records Associate
- Mitzie Vitela, Externship Program Manager
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Q: What is your favorite Harvard memory?
A: I remember my feelings the first day of law school. I walked up the stairs of one of the buildings that had been in so many movies and said to myself with great astonishment that I was now a student there. I thought of all the great world leaders who had gone to the school before me and felt, for the first time in my life, that I had achieved something tremendous. I also believed that no matter what mistakes I might make in the future, this was an accomplishment that could never be diminished. I want our students here to feel the same sense of accomplishment. The life of a law student is hard, and the life of a lawyer is even more difficult. It is easy in this stressful career to be too hard on yourself. I wish I could make every student recognize that every step they accomplish along the way deserves celebration. The memories of each accomplishment can be a coping mechanism for those hard times when you feel like you can't do anything right.
Q: Why did you move to Los Angeles after law school? Are you originally from the Southern California area?
A: The short answer is that I moved here from Boston because my husband was born and raised in Los Angeles. But, I started dreaming about living in Los Angeles as a teenager. My impression of the city then was that it was an exciting, energetic place as far removed from my blue collar, small town as possible. I often joke that I might have fallen in love with my husband in part because he was from Los Angeles. Although the wisdom of adulthood has helped me appreciate the value of my upbringing, I am thrilled that my children will be exposed to the endless array of opportunities and viewpoints that are housed in this city.
Q: What were some of the most common kinds of cases you handled while working as a civil litigator?
A: The beauty of my practice as an appellate attorney was that there was no "common" case. One of the most fun aspects of being a lawyer for me was exposure to an array of topics, many of which I never would have encountered were it not for my job. Appellate law is the ideal practice to maximize exposure to different topics. My cases involved everything from the common car accident to complex business transactions. But even as an employment litigator, I had to learn about experiences that were completely foreign to me. For example, one of the earliest cases I worked on required me to become intimately familiar with the world of tugboat operators. I had to learn the lingo, understand the operations, and then translate this information using language the average person could comprehend. It was so much fun!
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OF THE Q&A
WITH PROFESSOR TURNER
"W.A.Y." - Who Are You & Why Are You here?
This Month - Yakeen Qawasmeh, Second-Year Day Program
Yakeen Qawasmeh never imagined that he would get his first real lawyering experience before his second year of law school. But when his father, a longtime Lockheed Martin employee, was denied renewal of his security clearance, Qawasmeh spent the summer successfully representing him in administrative court and saved his job. "He was denied renewal based on factors relating to being born in a foreign country (Jordan)," Qawasmeh explained. "I was able to take up his case because passing the bar was not a requirement to practice law in that particular court."
He credits Southwestern with giving him the foundation and tools required to effectively argue on his father's behalf. Professor Dov Waisman helped him develop the appropriate language for his father's declaration. During this time, Qawasmeh was also externing for the Hon. Carlos Chung '95, a Superior Court Judge and Southwestern alumnus. "Judge Chung was very supportive and really helped me... Not only is he great about giving externs responsibility, he taught me practical legal skills and he's a really nice person. He takes the time to explain things and gives you the freedom to express your views on cases."
With a five-hour (roundtrip) daily commute by train from his family's Palmdale home to Los Angeles, no one would question Qawasmeh's dedication to his legal studies. And he has not wasted a moment getting involved on campus. In addition to serving as a Student Ambassador, he is on the Moot Court team and will compete as a writer and swing oralist for a competition in Brooklyn during the spring semester. As a member of Law Review, he has focused his energies on a legal issue connected with his love of dogs. He recently adopted "Jazz," an American Bulldog mix, who came from an "unexpected" litter. "I started looking into what age was best to get him neutered and discovered that in unincorporated parts of LA County, dogs are required to be neutered by the time they're 4 months old. I did a lot of research and found that early sterilization can cause health and temperament problems. My comment is going to discuss the problems posed by mandatory sterilization laws as well as dog overpopulation and propose statutory language which will provide a balance between the private concerns of the dog owner and the public concerns of dog overpopulation."
Qawasmeh graduated from UCLA with a philosophy degree in 2004 and spent seven years as a vocalist/lyricist with the band "Simple Citizens." "I really hadn't met a lawyer until I applied to law school. I thought I would be a musician," Qawasmeh said. "Eventually I realized that if I was going to do anything 'professional,' it would be the practice of law. I just didn't see myself as a doctor or engineer."
So far Qawasmeh's favorite courses at Southwestern have been Contracts and Evidence. He admires his professors, calling the individualized attention they give to students, their availability and passion for legal education "remarkable." He also credits Associate Dean Gary Greener with helping him fine tune his resume, land an interview and secure his next position as a Summer Associate with O'Melveny & Myers LLP. Although he has not decided which area of law he wants to practice, he refuses to rule out anything and is hoping to take on as many projects as he can at the law firm. "But I will definitely move to LA for the summer," he said, "so I can devote as much time to my job as possible."
PROFESSOR ANDREA RAMOS
PROFESSOR MICHAEL SCOTT
- Panelist, "Immigration Options for Abused, Neglected and Abandoned Children," 13th Annual Partnership Conference: A New Beginning for Partnerships for Children and Families in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles
PROFESSOR BUTLER SHAFFER
- Interviewed regarding legal issues concerning spy gadgets and cameras, NBC News
- Quoted, "Guilty verdict in MySpace suicide case could chill Internet speech," Christian Science Monitor
- Distilling the Concrete From the Abstract, 24 JOURNAL OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE 145 (2008)
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE FACULTY ACTIVITIES -
Professor Smith Elected Grand Marshal
Graduating students have selected Professor Karen Smith as Commencement Grand Marshal. She will lead the opening processional at the May 17, 2009 event and present the individual members of the graduating class at the ceremony. "It is very touching and I feel very honored that graduating students have chosen me to be the grand marshal. I have so many deserving colleagues, and that's why it is a great opportunity and honor to be selected," Professor Smith said. "Graduation is such a glorious day and it is probably the one day students don't mind having their name called by a professor!" Southwestern extends congratulations to Professor Smith!
Southwestern Welcomes New Adjunct Faculty
Three experts in their fields have joined Southwestern's adjunct faculty for Spring 2009. Read more.
Southwestern's Adjunct Faculty Excel on the Bench
Southwestern is pleased to announce that three of its adjunct faculty members have attained new judicial positions. Hon. Charles McCoy, Assistant Presiding Judge for the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, will become Presiding Judge in January 2009. Hon. Jackson "Jack" Lucky '94, former Deputy District Attorney, was recently appointed to the Riverside County Court bench by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hon. Amy Pellman, former Commissioner/Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, has been appointed as Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Schwarzenegger and was sworn in at Southwestern on December 2 (see photo below). Dean Bryant Garth said "These wonderful appointments confirm our longstanding position as a law school deeply involved with the bench and the bar." Read more.
Judges McCoy and Pellman (Judge Lucky not pictured)
Hon. Amy Pellman was sworn in as Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court by Hon. Michael Nash at Southwestern on December 2, with family, friends and members of the bench and bar in attendance.
TAHP Team Reaches Semi Finals in Labor & Employment Competition
The Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) team of Aaron Case, Sylvia Chiu, Fritzgerald Javellana and Chris Zwink were semi finalists in the ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law Student Trial Advocacy Competition held in Los Angeles in mid-November. Southwestern’s team defeated student advocates from Pepperdine and the University of San Diego in preliminary rounds where they argued a case regarding a claim of sexual harassment that led to a constructive discharge.
SUMMER PROGRAMS - PART ONE
See information on all the programs in Part Two in next month's issue of the Reporter.
Professor Michael Scott Talks about the new IT Law Summer Program in London
The program will allow students to earn six units of course credit while enjoying five incredible weeks in London. Each student will choose two of four courses: Comparative Electronic Commerce Law, Comparative Information Privacy Law, International Cybercrimes or Drafting Information Technology Agreements. Classes will be held from 9 to 1, Monday through Thursday, which makes every weekend a three-day weekend. Classes will be supplemented by field trips, guest speakers and various social events.
When did you develop the idea for the IT Summer Law Program?
I have been interested in expanding the school's offerings in international technology law since I joined the full-time faculty in 2003. There are not a lot of professors in Los Angeles, or even the United States, who have expertise in this area. Because of the growing importance of the European Union, and the enactment of new IT laws in the EU, it made sense to locate the program within the EU where we can hire professors knowledgeable in comparative US-EU IT laws.
Is this the first program of its kind?
Yes. There have been summer abroad programs that offer one or two courses in IT law, but this is the only program that focuses exclusively on international IT law. This gives students interested in practicing in this field a great opportunity to learn from professors who are internationally recognized educators in the field. It should give students participating in the program a distinct advantage over other students in getting a job in the IT sector.
I actually looked at several other cities in Europe first. I had a list of characteristics I was looking for in a host city. None of the other cities had all of those characteristics; London did. In London, you have first class housing and classroom facilities; a great transportation system; plenty of cultural, social and educational opportunities; easy access to other European destinations; a safe environment; and the ability to attract a world-class faculty.
London is, in my opinion, the most exciting city in the world. Spending five weeks in London is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There is a dizzying array of things to do in London, from watching tennis stars at Wimbledon to enjoying plays, musicals and outdoor concerts just down the street from the school. We are literally only blocks away from the British Museum, the British Library and numerous historical sites. Stonehenge, Oxford, the Edinburgh Festival (and many other destinations) are easily accessible by train or bus. In addition, most European cities are no more than an hour or two away. For example, there is a train within walking distance of the dorm that will whisk you to downtown Paris in just two hours. You can have lunch overlooking the Eiffel Tower and be back in London in time for dinner, or spend the entire weekend in Paris or another wonderful destination.
What makes this such an exciting and timely program?
The Internet and electronic commerce are the fastest growing business sectors worldwide. Every company, whether considered "high tech" or otherwise, understands the importance of being "online." As a result, there is an enormous demand for tech-savvy attorneys, even when there is a downturn in the economy. These classes are unique and will provide students with an international perspective on IT law that is simply not available elsewhere.
How and why was each participating faculty member selected for the program?
Having practiced in the international IT law field for almost 30 years, I have had the opportunity to travel extensively and get to know IT lawyers and academics worldwide. When I was planning this program I contacted dozens of recognized experts in the field and asked them whom they thought were the best educators in IT law in the U.S. and the UK. That search led me to each of the professors who will be teaching in the program. As shown by their biographies, they are all accomplished authors, speakers and teachers. It is truly an amazing faculty.
What are some of the biggest issues in IT law and how will this program help prepare students interested in the field?
When a company establishes a website, it is instantly doing business globally. That means that the company is potentially subject to the laws of every country in which its website is accessible, including contract law, privacy law, and criminal law. It is not sufficient for a company's lawyers to understand only the laws of the country in which that company is located. They must understand the potential impact of foreign laws on their client's business, and the potential liability that client may face around the world. This program will provide students with that global perspective.
Recent Alumnus Serving in Judicial Administration Fellowship Program
Emmanuel Vargas '08 is one of 10 fellows serving in the current Judicial Administration Fellowship Program. Vargas was selected from a highly competitive applicant pool of 150 prospective fellows. The Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University, in partnership with the Judicial Council of California developed this program to train professionals and leaders in the judiciary's evolving policies and administrative complexities. Southwestern Professor Michael Frost recommended Vargas for the fellowship, calling him "a hardworking, diligent student" with "a [highly developed] sense of civic responsibility."
The program is both academic and professional in nature. Fellows earn credit in the graduate program in Public Administration at Sacramento State, and attend regularly scheduled academic seminars. Field assignments include the Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles offices of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Judicial Council Office of Governmental Affairs, and county appellate or trial courts. Vargas is working at the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Community Relations Office. Click here to learn more about this fellowship.
Alumni Q&A with Kimberly Clancy '02, Attorney, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP
Q: Where did you do your undergraduate work?
A: I went to undergrad at USC and I had a double major in broadcast journalism and film.
Q: How did you become interested in law, given your background in media?
A: There are three things that I can point to. First, when I was a junior at USC, I had an internship with Inside Edition. I was assigned to work with Star Jones, who was the legal commentator at the time. I was assigned to the O.J. Simpson civil trial in Santa Monica. I worked there for the duration of the trial. That experience turned me off to news, but I got very interested in the law. Being behind the scenes at that trial, I found it fascinating to sit in court or in the audio trailer and have my own perceptions of what had happened in court that day and then go home, flip through the channels, and see how inaccurate and sensational the reporting was. That was eye-opening for me.
Second, I have an uncle who was a judge. He had great stories about judging, and he would always engage me in debates. He often joked with my father that he thought I would end up being a lawyer.
Third, during my senior year at USC, I had to take a media law class as part of the requirements for my journalism degree and I loved it. When I turned my final paper in to my professor, he said, "Ms. Clancy, what law school are you going to? And if you're not going to law school, why aren't you considering it?" At that point, I was graduating in a few months and it was too late to take the LSAT and apply for law school, but that stuck with me.
After I graduated, I worked in public relations for about a year and just did not like it. I was doing mostly entertainment public relations, which was somewhat related to my degree. In the back of my mind, I always thought, "Well, what about going to law school?" Finally a friend got tired of hearing me talk about it and dared me to take the LSAT. So I did.
Q: When you first started law school, did you think you were going to focus on entertainment law?
A: Absolutely. That's the reason that I chose Southwestern. I thought that the Entertainment and Media Law Institute would be a really nice melding of my interests in law and entertainment and media. In addition, Southwestern gave me a very generous scholarship, which was difficult to turn down.
Q: How has Southwestern shaped your professional development? Which aspects of your Southwestern education did you find to be the most helpful?
I found that many faculty members at Southwestern enjoy mentoring students, which is so important. Dean Christopher Cameron was a good mentor for me. I had him for Civil Procedure my first year and I did really well that year, so he helped me get a judicial externship with a wonderful magistrate judge at the federal courthouse downtown, Judge Margaret Nagel, to help me bulk up my résumé for on-campus interviewing during my second year.
I was also a Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant for Dean Cameron. He has been and continues to be a good mentor for me. We're still in touch, especially now in my work as an adjunct with the Student Success Program, in which I have taught for the past three years.
Q: Describe the courses that you teach in the Student Success Program.
A: The program is offered twice a year and only lasts a few weeks. There's no credit involved. Basically, it's a series of workshops for students who might need some help writing law school exams.
I like coming back to campus and staying in touch. I like meeting with students. Inevitably, I get lots of questions from students about the bar exam, what it's like to practice law, whether I enjoy my job. Sometimes I think students just like talking to recent graduates. I only graduated six years ago, so I'm not too far out. They can relate to me and they can relate to my struggles. They might be struggling a bit in law school, and I tell them that I still struggle in practice. Every day is challenging and there is always something new to learn.
I think the program is great and I hope it benefits the students that participate. I know I love teaching in the program.
Q: What is your best advice to Southwestern students?
A: I would tell them that their professional legal career begins in law school. What I mean by that is their reputation begins in law school. L.A. is big, but the legal community is relatively small. You never know where your classmates, teachers, people that you come into contact with during law school, are going to end up. Your classmates may become your co-workers, clients, co-counsel, or opposing counsel. And when you come across your classmates or people that you run into in law school out in practice, they already know you from what you did in law school. So that's why I say that your reputation and professional career begin in law school, and people should really treat law school that way. You just never know. Along with that advice, I would really recommend—I know sometimes it's hard to avoid cliques and other things, but: make friends, not enemies in law school. Again, you just never know where someone's going to end up. Just because you're not going to go out and have a drink with someone after class doesn't mean you can't be respectful and professional in your associations and relationships with people in school. In law school, you're laying the groundwork for your future career.
Q: Describe the litigation work that you do at Sidley Austin LLP.
A: I do mostly civil litigation defense. Within that, I have a focus on product liability, working on complex product liability cases, and within that, I mostly do defense work for the manufacturers of prescription drug and medical devices. So mostly pharmaceutical product liability cases.
Q: How did you get into product liability work?
A: I was a summer associate at a law firm called Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, and I got an offer to join Brobeck after I graduated. About three months after I started working there, the firm collapsed and was forcibly entered into bankruptcy. Quite a way to kick off a legal career! At its peak, Brobeck had over 1,000 attorneys and multiple offices across the United States.
Lucky for me, even though I had only been there for a few months, I was very fortunate to work with a woman named Debra Pole. She was a partner at Brobeck and is a partner now at Sidley. She is one of the preeminent trial lawyers in California. I had a chance to work with her just a little bit while I was at Brobeck and apparently she saw something in me. When Brobeck collapsed, she was given an offer to bring a small group of product liability attorneys with her to Sidley. She asked if I wanted to come along, and for me that was an absolute no-brainer. The type of work that I ended up working on is the type of work that she specializes in. So I've worked closely with her for the last six years.
There's a lot of this work to go around. There are a lot of lawsuits out there related to prescription drug and medical devices. Sidley has a very active practice in this area.
Q: What do you like about this area of the law?
A: I like it because every day is different, every plaintiff is different. I get to learn a lot about science and medical issues which are very interesting. And for a young associate, I think it's a great area of law to practice because there is such a large volume of cases that it's almost inevitable for a young associate to get some pretty meaty assignments. I've done a lot of plaintiff depositions, for example. I've probably done over a hundred depositions total at this point, not just plaintiff's depositions, but all types: doctor depositions, lay witness depositions, expert witness depositions. For a big law firm, I don't know if it's terribly common to have taken that many depositions, being as junior as I am. But because there are so many cases, there are many opportunities for young associates to take depositions, to make court appearances, to get some pretty substantive assignments early on. I have been taking depositions since I was a first year. For someone like me who really likes litigating, that was a great opportunity.
The funny thing is that Torts was my worst grade in law school! That's another important point for people who are going through law school, and one that I make to my students: you never know where you're going to end up, or what you're going to end up liking out in the "real world." Your grades in law school and what you do in law school might not necessarily translate once you get out.
Q: What are the most challenging elements of your practice?
I think that with litigation, one of the biggest challenges is balance.
Litigations are somewhat cyclical. There are some busy times and some
lulls. I think the trick is to set yourself up so that when you get
really busy, you can manage it, and when there is a lull, you take
advantage of it. That is one of the biggest challenges for associates
in general: managing their time as best they can while still having a
life outside of work.
Q: You have published quite a few articles.
Yes, I like doing that. I'm lucky that the partners who I work for
encourage me to write, to engage in speaking engagements, and
opportunities like that. I participate a lot in the L.A. County Bar
Association, and that's also encouraged. It is good to become involved
in the greater legal community.
Q: Are you involved in any other activities with Southwestern as an alumna?
In addition to teaching, I have also done recruiting for Sidley during
on-campus interviewing. I like doing that and look forward to it; it's
another chance to meet some really stellar students and talk to them
about working at a law firm. I've also, in the past, judged for Moot
Court. I was on the Southwestern Moot Court team when I was a student.
I like being a judge for the intramural competitions and being on the
other side, on the judging side instead of the competitor side.
Q: Describe your involvement with the Board of Directors for the Downtown Women's Center.
DWC is in the process of building a new location that will be completed
in 2010, which is very exciting because it will allow the Center to
increase its residential capacity. We'll be able to provide permanent
supportive housing for a number of women. It also will greatly expand
the overall size of the Downtown Women's Center, so that we can serve
more women on Skid Row with our social services and educational
programs. The new facility will allow the Center to serve even more
meals because we'll have a bigger kitchen and dining room. There will
be more temporary beds and more showers. It's a very exciting time for
the Center. To top it all off, the new location will house the first
and only medical clinic on Skid Row that is geared just toward women.
It's a wonderful organization and the only organization on Skid Row
that is focused just on the needs of women. They're doing great things
I've been involved with the Center for several
years now. I originally got involved with them because there was a
partner at Sidley, [former Southwestern Trustee] Linda Peterson, who
was on the Board of Directors, and who was doing some pro bono legal
work for the Center. She got me involved, and when she retired, she
recommended me for the Board of Directors. It's a great opportunity.
Sidley has been very supportive of DWC over the years and we've done a
number of pro bono legal projects for the Center. DWC serves such an
incredible need on Skid Row. I'm really honored to work with them.