Public Interest Law Week is Here Again!
Southwestern's Public Interest Law Committee has scheduled several interesting and fun events for the 18th Annual Public Interest Law Week (PILW), October 30 - November 7. One of the primary purposes of the week-long series of activities is to raise funds in support of summer grants for current students who wish to work at public interest organizations.
Paul Freese, Director of Litigation and Advocacy for Public Counsel, will deliver the keynote speech "Law and the Public Interest in an Era of Change - 'What will you do with your one wild and precious life?'" on Wednesday, November 5 at 12:30 p.m. in BW370. Mr. Freese supervises more than 30 attorneys and their staff for the public interest law office of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations, which is the largest provider of pro-bono legal services in the United States. He previously served as Directing Attorney of the Homelessness Prevention Law Project. For more information, click here.
The Public Interest Career Fair will take place on Thursday, October 30 at 12:15 p.m. on the Promenade. Representatives from a wide selection of public interest organizations will be available to talk with students about opportunities within their organizations. "This is an excellent chance for students to network with lawyers and find out about a variety of practice areas," said Associate Dean Gary Greener. "Public interest organizations provide a variety of opportunities in almost every area of the law, including: labor and employment, tax, probate, torts, family, immigration, international, property, landlord/tenant, civil rights, appellate, criminal, constitutional, environmental, and many, many more." He advises students to take advantage of this unique event to network with and find out more about these public interest organizations and how they can become involved.
In what became a spirited competition in its 2007 debut, the Second Annual Southwestern Trivia Bowl Challenge will take place on Monday, November 3 at 12:30 p.m. on the Student Commons. Teams of three will test their knowledge of pop culture and the law, and the team with the highest points in the three-round tournament will win, with the names of the victorious team members emblazoned on the Trophy of Champions.
If you enjoyed watching Dean Bryant Garth on the elliptical machine last year to raise money for PILW, you'll love this year's Faculty Exercise-A-Thon on Tuesday, November 4 at 12:30 p.m. in the Fitness Center. This year, Dean Garth will be joined by select first-year professors who will see how many miles they can go on various exercise machines! Students may watch and cheer, as well as pledge money based on faculty performance. Dean Garth has generously offered to personally match fundraising up to $800.
For three days, from November 3 through November 5,
everyone will have the chance to buy treats (donated by students,
faculty and staff) at the Bake Sale. Autumn/Halloween-themed baked
goods will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the front steps of the
Westmoreland Building, as well as at the Trivia Bowl and Election Party.
Beginning Monday, November 3, Silent Auction items will be available for bidding throughout the week in the Westmoreland lobby. The auction will close at a special finale reception on Thursday, November 6 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Salle Moderne. Winners will be announced at the end of the event.
Variety Show and Live Auction
The always-popular Variety Show and Live Auction will be held in the Louis XVI Room on Friday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. Back by popular demand, students, faculty and staff will again wow the audience with their talent at the evening's variety show.
Student volunteers are needed for a variety of events. If you are interested in joining the efforts, contact the Public Interest Law Committee co-chairs Fritzgerald Javellana and Elizabeth Adams. For more information, or to contribute an auction item, contact the Student Affairs Office.
The Writing Center Announces its Next Workshop
Working on your LAWS Problem 2 and need a bit of help? Southwestern's new Writing Center will present its next workshop to assist students with bluebooking techniques on Monday, November 10 at 12:15 and 5:00 p.m. in W311.
Southwestern Welcomes Wellness Days
At Southwestern, we know it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to achieve success in law school and the workplace, and that being healthy means maintaining not just physical, but mental and emotional well-being as well. We are therefore implementing a new Wellness Days Program to help students achieve their health and wellness goals through new programs, workshops and events aimed at educating the Southwestern community with guidance and information about wellness.
The first Wellness Days activity, a Stress Management Workshop, will take place on Tuesday, November 11 at 12:30 p.m. Learn new ways of dealing with stress. All students are welcome to attend.
A Fitness Day is also planned for Monday, November 17. All members of the Southwestern community are invited to join a walking group, go for a run, participate in a yoga class, or use the Fitness Center on this day to increase involvement in different wellness activities. Sign-ups will begin on November 10. Apples and water will be provided for participants.
Watch for future Wellness Days events next semester. If you would like to get involved in planning these and other events or have questions regarding Wellness Days, please contact the Dean of Students Office.
Table Days Are Coming!
Are you a first-year student in the full-time program thinking about your options for the newly added Spring Semester Elective? Don’t miss Table Days, when members of the faculty will be available to answer questions and discuss choices with you. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 18 and Wednesday, November 19 at 12:15 p.m. on the Promenade.
This upcoming Table Days provides an opportunity for first-year students in the full-time program to learn more about their elective options, including Legal Profession, Copyright Law, Public International Law, and Constitutional Criminal Procedure. WebAdvisor assistance and general academic counseling will also be available for all students. Questions regarding Table Days may be directed to the Dean of Students Office.
Conversation with Cotton Rescheduled for November
"A Conversation with..." Richard Cotton will be held on Thursday, November 20 at 7:30 p.m. The Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NBC Universal will discuss "Protecting the Peacock: The Challenges of Representing an Integrated Entertainment Company in the 21st Century." Click here for more information.
Public Interest Career Fair
The Public Interest Career Fair will take place on Thursday, October 30 at 12:15 pm on the Promenade. See the Public Interest Law Week article above for more information!
Career Services Open House
The Career Services Office (CSO) will be hosting its annual "Open House" on Monday, November 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in W323. Stop by, grab a snack and get acquainted with the valuable resources available to you.
How to Start Your Own Practice
Ever thought about starting your own law practice? Even if you don't want to go "solo" right after law school, if it is a possibility at some time in your career, then don't miss "How to Start Your Own Practice" presented by Professor Ira Shafiroff. This seminar, jam packed with useful information, will be presented on Tuesday, November 11 at 4:45 pm in W329. Professor Shafiroff, Southwestern alumnus and former sole practitioner, will talk about how to set up your own firm, obtaining clients, marketing, and other useful tips.
Resumes for 1Ls
Learn how to draft a resume and a cover letter on Wednesday, November 12 at 12:30 and 5:00 p.m. in W311. Particular attention will be paid to 1Ls who might not have any law-related experience.
Besides OCIP, How Do I Get a Job?
Associate Dean Gary Greener will talk about other programs and methods for obtaining a job on Thursday, November 20 at 12:30 and 5:00 p.m. in W311.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Q: As a real estate attorney what was one of your most memorable or challenging cases?
A: My most memorable experience as a real estate attorney took place during my second year practicing law. I represented a large grocery store chain in the development of a shopping center. We negotiated the purchase agreement for a shopping center, and the next step was to buy out the existing leases so my client could reconstruct the center and obtain new tenants. One of the existing tenants refused to sell their lease interest and subsequently failed to pay rent for several months. My client asked my advice regarding whether they could lock the tenant out of the premises. This appeared to be the easiest question I had been asked since I started practicing law. After looking at the lease, statutes and relevant case law, I found that the law was very clear cut - as long as the landlord provided a certain notice to the tenant, the lock-out was permissible. I quickly called up my client and delivered the good news. That night my client followed all procedures and locked the tenant out of the premises. Everything seemed great until my senior partner discovered the advice I had given the client.
What I failed to realize in rendering my legal opinion was that there were non-legal consequence that were likely to occur as a result of locking out this tenant. My client was the largest grocery store chain in the State of Texas and the tenant was a small family owned bakery that was very popular in town. As a result of the lock-out, several customers of the bakery were unable to get their wedding cakes because the bakery could not get into the premises. My senior partner quickly explained what poor advice I had given. If the headlines in the morning read "Grocery Store locks out local bakery and brides can't get their wedding cakes," my client's reputation in the community would be hurt dramatically. In fact, the senior partner was sure that if this did occur, the firm would likely lose the largest client we had.
This experience was memorable for me not just because I lost sleep waiting to see the local headlines in the morning, but because I learned a lot about the practice of law. Although technically the law I found was correct, I failed to consider the larger and more practical impact of the advice I had given. It was a good lesson to learn that a lawyer's role goes beyond the law and requires the lawyer to evaluate each individual client's needs. As an attorney, I am my client's counselor in all aspects of the representation.
Q: What prompted you to make the transition from practicing real estate law to teaching law school?
A: My husband decided to attend law school while I was practicing at Akin Gump. He wanted to attend Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas and Akin Gump did not have an office there! The move opened up an opportunity for me to transition into teaching.
Q: When you coached an ABA National Negotiation team in the past, what was the most important advice you gave to the competitors?
A: To listen. In most negotiations, participants are so busy thinking about their own position and needs that they fail to really listen to what the other side is saying. If the students take the time to listen to the opposing side and understand what the opposing side's underlying needs are, they will have the information necessary to find a common ground and have a successful negotiation.
Q: Based on some of the professional speeches you've made, what do you believe is a lawyer's role as an advocate in the legal system?
A: In a nutshell, I believe a lawyer's role is to represent her client to the greatest extent possible, but at the same time remember that she is also an officer of the court and her representation must conform to standards of honesty and integrity.
Q: What is the most important skill for law students to acquire in LAWS (Legal Analysis, Writing & Skills)?
A: They must acquire both superb writing skills and superb analytical skills. Even if a lawyer has outstanding analytical ability, her arguments will be lost if they are not communicated clearly and in a manner her audience can understand. Thus, I think learning the structure to legal writing is extremely important. However, even a properly structured legal document is of little help without accurate analysis. So, mastering analytical skills is equally important.
Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
A: My interaction with the students. I really enjoy developing relationships with each student and watching them develop both personally and professionally. I particularly enjoy watching a student who struggles with legal writing at the beginning of the semester make tremendous progress over the year and become a great legal writer.
Q: What is your favorite law school memory?
A: Parents weekend first year of law school. I was in Texas, and my dad was in California. I mentioned to him that it was parents' weekend and I wished he were in Texas. He surprised me and showed up. We went to a Longhorn game together and had a wonderful weekend.
Q: When you were a member of the Texas Law Review, did you have aspirations to become a legal writing professor?
A: No. It was not until I worked at Akin Gump and was asked to be a mentor for the summer clerks that I realized my love for teaching. I particularly became interested in teaching legal writing after working with some of the first-year associates on their memos.
Q: Since you served as a volunteer mediator for the Lubbock County Alternative Dispute Resolution Center, what are some of your thoughts on mediation?
A: Mediation is an excellent way to resolve disputes. If successful, both parties are able to walk away satisfied and hopefully having mended any relationship between them. In addition, mediation is a good learning opportunity for the attorneys involved. Mediation is a helpful tool for lawyers to learn how to look beyond the mere positions of their clients and opposing parties and focus on the underlying interests and needs of the parties.
Q: After spending time in Texas as a law student, lawyer and professor, how was the transition back to the LA area?
A: The transition was certainly challenging. In addition to the move from Texas to California, I had a new baby born June 8 and my father passed away June 9. I was also teaching Property for the first time, in addition to legal writing [at the University of La Verne], so my time commitment at work was intense. That said, I really enjoyed my courses and students this past year and it is wonderful being so close to family again. I have missed California and it is great to be back!
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside the legal profession?
A: Spending time with my husband and four children. I spend most of my free time at Disneyland!
Q: If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
A: I would do exactly what I am doing right now - teaching legal writing. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to teach legal writing - it is my passion and I look forward to going to work every day. I certainly hope to be successful in this career, but it is the challenge, in part, that makes the job so exciting.
"W.A.Y." - Who Are You & Why Are You here?
This month - Elizabeth Adams, Third-year Day Program
Liz Adams learned compassion and kindness as a child watching her mother care for people with disabilities. She quickly followed her example. "When I was pretty young I coordinated a trip for my entire Sunday school class to serve at a soup kitchen," she said. "I always focused on helping others." So it's not surprising that the Minnesota native delved into public interest the moment she arrived in Los Angeles. In addition to co-chairing this year's Public Interest Law Week (PILW) with Fritzgerald Javellana, Adams has served on the Public Interest Law Committee all three of her years at Southwestern, participated in the Street Law Clinic, and is currently working in the Children's Rights Clinic. She is also involved in Southwestern's General Relief Advocacy Project (GRAP) and collaborated with Professor Laura Cohen to establish a Teen Court Club on campus last year. Additionally, she is externing at the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, advocating for children with disabilities to make sure their educational needs are met.
Adams became interested in law because she grew up surrounded by politics. Her father was a lobbyist who spent a lot of time in D.C., and his social group included many attorneys, senators, and judges. However, one of the main reasons she decided to pursue a legal education was the desire to alleviate the problems that perpetuate homelessness. Prior to starting law school, Adams participated in "let the outside in," an experience organized by Housing Minnesota in which she spent four days and three nights in freezing January temperatures being immersed in the homeless population of Minneapolis. "We started at a greyhound station and did a scavenger hunt. We had to carry our things on our backs every day and complete obstacles. We talked to homeless people to learn where we could find a bed and meal. We also spoke with policy people who worked on housing. I realized so much of how people become homeless stems from childhood."
Originally planning to move to New York City after earning her bachelors degree in English and Political Science at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, Adams decided she wanted to "take some time off from winter." While researching law schools in Los Angeles, she saw the public interest section on the home page of Southwestern's website and liked the variety of opportunities to work in the field. Adams has benefited from her efforts with the Public Interest Law Committee and the money raised during PILW, earning two summer grants, first working at the Children's Law Center, and then spending last summer working for the Hon. Michael Nash, presiding judge of the juvenile system. "I enjoyed working with Judge Nash and seeing the policy side of things. I'd like to get involved with more policy work." When she's not working and studying, Adams likes being outside, hiking, people watching, and hanging out with her 13-year-old Pekingese, Muffy. Although she plans to eventually end up in Los Angeles, she wants to spend a few years in New York, exploring the city's juvenile system so she can compare it to LA and find ways to make the most positive impact as a public interest attorney. For now, she enjoys making a contribution to both Southwestern and children in the community. "It's nice to see that you can actually make a difference."
Southwestern's New Immigration Clinic to Begin
Southwestern has established a new Immigration Law Clinic to provide legal representation to underserved immigrants in the community. The Clinic will begin operating in January, and law students who participate will represent low-income children and adults in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS - clients under the age of 21), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and U visa cases. To learn more about these types of cases, click here.
Professor Andrea Ramos, Director of the Immigration Law Clinic, will supervise the students and teach the one semester, five-unit clinic course. "Professor Ramos is the perfect combination of lawyer and educator to lead the new clinic," Dean Garth said. "Southwestern is very fortunate to have lured her away from Public Counsel." Read more.
PROFESSOR ROBERT LUTZ
VICE DEAN AUSTEN PARRISH
- Appointed, International Committee, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
- Speaker, "Beyond Bali: The Future of Climate Change," ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting, Brussels, Belgium
- Panel Moderator, "Territory & Security,"Arctic Sovereignty: Hot Issues, Cold Facts, Southwestern Journal of International Law Symposium
American Bar Foundation Fellows' Research Advisory Committee, Meeting
to review ABF's current and future research projects, Chicago, IL
- Participant, State Department's Advisory Committee of International Law, Semi-Annual Meeting, Washington, DC
- Selected for Inclusion, International Trade and Finance Law Specialty, The Best Lawyers in America (2009 Edition)
PROFESOR MYRNA RAEDER
- The Effects Test: Extraterritoriality's Fifth Business, 61 VANDERBILT LAW REVIEW 1455 (2008)
- Organizer, Opening Remarks and Panel Moderator, "Environment & Natural Resources,"Arctic Sovereignty: Hot Issues, Cold Facts, Southwestern Journal of International Law Symposium
- Meeting Participant, ABA Criminal Justice Section's Juvenile Justice Standards Committee, Washington, DC
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE FACULTY ACTIVITIES -
Professor Cameron Elected to ALI
Professor Christopher Cameron has been elected to membership in the American Law Institute (ALI), considered one of the highest honors in the legal profession. ALI members (limited to 3,000) include judges, lawyers, and legal educators from all areas of the U.S. and a number of foreign countries who work to clarify, reform, and promote scholarship regarding the law. Members are elected through a highly selective process that recognizes their "significant professional achievements and a demonstrated interest in the improvement of the law." Southwestern faculty who are also members of the ALI are Professor Ronald Aronovsky, Dean Bryant Garth, Professor Robert Lutz (Life Member), Professor Myrna Raeder, and Visiting Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow.
BREAKING NEWS - Southwestern Excels at Recent Moot Court and TAHP Competitions
Upholding its tradition in excellence in the appellate and trial advocacy arenas,
Southwestern's teams from the Moot Court Honors Program and the Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) excelled at numerous competitions this past week, and each garnered a first place win. See the stories below for more details.
Southwestern Triumphs at Wechsler First Amendment Moot Court Competition
The Wechsler Moot Court Competition team of Michael Azat, Leah Cohen-Mays and Jillian Weinstein earned
(from left) Weinstein, Cohen-Mays and Azat
First Place in the National Competition in Washington D.C. Team advisor and Southwestern alumna Zee Rodriguez '99 guided the team in this First Amendment Competition, which explored an issue about a whether public university's professor's assignment of a grade constitutes speech and if so, does that right of speech belong to the university or the professor? Weinstein wrote the team brief on side of university (petitioner). Read more.
TAHP Team Wins First National Championship
TAHP's St. Johns Civil Rights Team won First Place at the National Invitational held in New York City. The team's four advocates - Armen Amirkhanian, Andrew Caple-Shaw, Vanessa Chavez and Lindsay Gardner
- went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, winning over the
University of Miami School of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law. The
team then triumphed over Washburn University School of Law in the
Semi-Finals, and went on to the Championship Round where they defeated
Temple Law School. Read more.
Southwestern to Launch Negotiation Team
Southwestern is proud to announce the members of the 2008-2009 Negotiation Team - George Alayev, Joanna Allen, Whitney Ching, Bryan Clements, Chad Derby, Nydia Duenez, Allan Harris, Daniel Horlick, Kyle Marks, Nataliya Royzina and Dikran Sevlian, with coaches Professor Nyree Gray and Professor Cristina Knolton.
The team was selected to compete nationally in a series of transactional-based competitions such as negotiation, client counseling, and mediation. Whitney Ching, Daniel Horlick, Kyle Marks, and Joanna Allen will compete in the regional portion of the ABA Negotiation Competition on November 1 and 2 in San Diego. This ABA Competition requires two-person teams to negotiate a transaction or dispute with teams from competing law schools in their region. The winning teams from those competitions then compete at a national competition held in conjunction with the ABA Mid-Year Meeting. The subject matter of the problem varies from year to year and is typically a problem commonly encountered in the practice of law. This year's competition topic is Elder Law and the finals will be held in February in Boston.
TAHP Selects Junior Advocates
The Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) is proud to announce the Junior Advocates for the 2008-2009 year. They are Jeff Aidikoff, Benny Bakshandeh, Phillip Bather, Omar Bengali, Myloc Dinh, Sara Greco, Karen Hallock, Ashton Inniss, Shiraz Khalid, Mitchell Kim, Brooke Martin, Janessa McCune, Carmen Miranda, Edward Mnaksakanyan, Lou Myers, Maurice Pessah, Darren Reed, Carrington Synder and Matthew Welde.
SBA Announces Students Representatives
The Student Bar Association (SBA) is proud to announce the Class Representatives for the 2008-2009 school year.
1st Year, Section A - Nicole Abboud
1st Year, Section B - Dimitry Krol
1st Year, Section C - Shai Phillips
1st Year, Evening - Leila Varzideh
2nd Year, Section R- Hourig Avakian
2nd Year, Section S - Nick Garces
3rd Year, Day - Danielle Daroca
SCALE® I - Dorothy Groza
SCALE® II - Nathan Gabbard
CALI Available to Help Students Prepare for Finals
With finals approaching, don't forget that CALI Lessons provide a free way to help you prepare for exams. CALI Lessons are interactive, computer-based tutorials distributed by the non-profit Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). CALI publishes over 700 CALI Lessons in 33 different legal subject areas, listed at cali.org/lesson. Southwestern students have unlimited access to CALI Lessons. Law students around the country ran CALI Lessons over 900,000 times last school year.
If you are registering an account at cali.org for the first time, note that you must use Southwestern's authorization code to create a new account on www.cali.org. Southwestern's authorization code can be found online. You will need your Southwestern username and web password to obtain the authorization code.
Southwestern Recognizes Students with the
Starting this Fall (and SCALE periods II and V), the school will recognize top performing students with Witkin Awards for Academic Excellence. The award, a personalized certificate suitable for framing, is in addition to the CALI Excellence for the Future Awards currently awarded to top students.
The Witkin Legal Institute, part of West Group publishers, honors the legal legacy of B.E. Witkin and his life-long commitment to advancing the understanding of California law. The Witkin Award is available to California law schools accredited by the ABA or by the State Bar of California and is awarded to students enrolled in certain designated qualifying courses. For more information on the Witkin Legal Institute and the award, click here.
The Grammy Foundation's Ninth Annual Legal Writing Contest
Write your way to money, music and a chance to hobnob with the hippest names in the entertainment industry. The GRAMMY Foundation is accepting submissions for its Eleventh Annual Entertainment Law Initiative (ELI) Legal Writing Contest. The first place winner will receive $5,000, while four second-place winners will receive $1,500. All winners will get tickets to the GRAMMY Awards Show on February 8, 2009, hotel accommodations, and a ticket to MusiCares Person of the Year Dinner, this year honoring Aretha Franklin. Southwestern students have done very well in this competition in past years and have been selected as finalists. The contest invites law students to submit a 3,000-word essay, which should cover a "compelling legal topic facing the music industry today." Submissions must be postmarked by January 2, 2009; winners will be announced on January 30, 2009. Winners will also have the opportunity to present their papers at the ELI Luncheon during GRAMMY week on February 6. For complete contest rules, email email@example.com, visit www.grammyfoundation.com or download the pdf here.
Nominate Outstanding Faculty or Alumni for CLAY Awards
California Lawyer Magazine is now accepting nominations for its Annual CLAY (California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year) Awards. Those submitted for nominations must be California attorneys who have made significant contributions during 2008 to "the law, the profession, a particular industry or the general good of the public." The submission deadline is Monday, December 1 (but early nominations are strongly encouraged). Go to www.californialawyermagazine.com and click on the nomination form on the lower left side of the page to access a nomination form, which has more than 20 categories to choose from and nominate a Southwestern alum or faculty member.
Southwestern's Biederman Institute Honors Wayne Levin '88 with Inaugural Entertainment and Media Alumnus of the Year Award
Southwestern's Biederman Institute honored Wayne Levin '88 as its first recipient of the Entertainment and Media Alumnus of the Year Award on October 11. The award was presented to Mr. Levin, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Corporate Operations for Lionsgate, at the law school's Entertainment Alumni Dinner, which was held at the California Yacht Club.
Wayne Levin '88
Mr. Levin was selected for this honor in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the legal profession, his leadership in the entertainment industry, and his dedication to the Southwestern community. He has served as an adjunct professor at the law school for over 14 years, teaching courses in Financing & Distributing Independent Films and Motion Picture Production Law. Read More.
Alumni Q & A with Allyson Gipson '99, Business Development Manager of Chevron Energy Solutions
Q: Could you describe your path to law school? What did you study as an undergrad and what led you to become interested in the law?
A: I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture at UC Berkeley. I'm a true Old Blue; I have season tickets and go up for all the Cal football games.
I always wanted to be an architect, or so I thought, from the time I was ten years old. When I finished graduate school, I ended up going into the construction industry as opposed to the design side of the industry. The more I dealt with the construction part of the industry, the more I dealt with contracts and the legal aspects of what happens on the construction side. So I really became interested in understanding the law and how it pertains to the construction industry. That's what got me thinking about it.
At that point, my mother and a lot of my family encouraged me. They said they could never win an argument with me. I began toying with the idea, but I wasn't really sure that I was going to be interested. I really kind of approached the study of law thinking I would see if I liked it. I was never one of those people who always wanted to be a lawyer.
I took the LSAT, thinking I would see how I did. And then I applied and thought I would see if I got accepted. Then I got accepted and wondered how I was going to pay for it. Then Southwestern gave me a Schumacher Scholarship. That made me think that maybe that was what I was meant to do, because the path had been made for me to study.
Q: What attracted you to Southwestern?
A: The big motivating factor for me was that I knew I was going to work full-time while going to law school. I already owned a home and had a mortgage, so I couldn't quit my job and go to law school full-time, because I needed to work. I wanted to make sure that I went someplace that was accredited and had a good reputation and people passed the bar when they went there. So that really narrowed it down to Loyola and Southwestern for me.
Q: Which were your most important courses and who were the most important professors to your formation at Southwestern?
A: Criminal Law with Professor Strader was probably the one whose class I enjoyed the most even though it was the toughest class. I had him my first year and he was very intimidating, but I liked the style, I liked the reading, and I learned a lot in his class. Also Criminal Procedure with Professor Smith was great. She's also a Cal alum, so she went up in my book because of that.
The classes that I liked the most were not really the areas I expected to excel in. Criminal Law was my strength, and I enjoyed all of those courses, including Criminal Law Theory as my writing class. I liked everything about the Criminal Law classes, everything about Evidence, all of it. The stuff that I deal with the most is the stuff I least enjoyed: Real Estate, Real Property. But I think Sports Law was probably my best class. That was the only time I took a class and I knew I aced the exam. I walked out of the final knowing I got a flat-out A in the class.
Q: Could you describe your current position?
A: I work for Chevron Energy, which is a division of the Chevron Oil Company. My job is to help people develop renewable energy projects. It ties back into my architecture background. At Berkeley, the architecture school is called the College of Environmental Design. It's all about the environment and what you can do to play your part, so it's very Berkeley-esque. A lot of the things that I do at Chevron that tie into my legal training have to do with negotiation. I'm always negotiating deals. I also work on terms and provisions of contracts. I also look out for conflict-of-interest situations.
I thought about criminal law. I was encouraged by a lot of people, including Professor Carpenter and [former] Professor Darden. I was encouraged by a lot of people to become a litigator, primarily because I had a lot of success in Moot Court and oral arguments. I had no fear of standing up in front of people and arguing my point. But I really didn't want to start over in a career, which would've been a complete shift. I also didn't want to get away from my first love which was buildings and structures, and all of that. So I never really felt myself being pulled into litigating in criminal law. But I do have an interest in eventually doing arbitration or mediation for construction cases. If I ever really put my background to work, that's what I'll be doing.
Q: How would you describe a typical work day?
A: I'm in business development, which means that I spend a lot of time talking to people about the potential of doing all sorts of energy projects. So much of my day is spent in lunch meetings, breakfast meetings, or dinner meetings. Lots of meetings, lots of food. One of the hazards of my job is that there's a lot of food, so I have to be careful.
I spend a lot of time talking about the impact of global warming and how people can make a difference. I'm talking about stuff that I'm really passionate about. And part of the time I'm doing research. My legal training really helps with my ability to research potential projects. I learned how to keep digging and find the data. I can find just about any piece of information there is out there in the ether. Doing research for Moot Court competitions and research for Legal Writing teaches you how to dig and dig and dig. That process helps every day with my job.
Q: It sounds like you use your persuasion skills on an everyday basis too.
A: Very much so. I need to persuade people, to negotiate. My job is in sales; my goal is to get people to hire my company. So people need to be sold without feeling like they're being sold. They need to be persuaded that working with my company is their idea and that it's the right decision.
Q: What do you like most about your career and what would you say are your biggest challenges?
A: What I like most is meeting new people. I go to a lot of conferences and conventions, so I'm always out and about. I really like that I'm not stuck behind a desk at all. The biggest challenge is that alternative energy is very new. The technology is constantly changing. My background is in architecture and construction. All of the people who deliver what I "sell" are engineers, and their work is very complex. I don't often understand all the nitty-gritty details, so I constantly have to figure out how much of it I really need to know and how much I should leave to the experts. Like how people talk about sausage-making: the sausage is good, but I don't know how it's made. I just need to know that this sausage is very good and let me tell you why. It's important to put it in language that people will understand without them having to know what goes in it. That's essentially my job every day.
Q: What are the career achievements of which you are most proud?
A: Seeing the success of the people I have mentored. To see people who I hired when they were just out of school or in the first couple years of their career, and taught them how to be successful in the industry. When I see them now doing really wonderful things, that's probably the thing I like the most.
Q: Does your company have an official mentoring program, or are these people who you have simply mentored on your own?
A: They have internships; typically the engineers mentor junior-level engineers. At Chevron, I don't get a chance to mentor like I used to, but I was just recently talking to a colleague about the proper way to interview people. He said, "You know, you need to do a training for the rest of the staff on how to do this because we are not that thorough." So I get called in a lot of times to do things like that for colleagues, not necessarily people who are coming up in the business. I like that too.
Q: What advice would you give current Southwestern students who are interested in entering the business field?
A: I would recommend that they take opportunities that may not seem like the most obvious decisions. I had a chance to work some places where, at the time I decided to take the job, I thought it might be helpful for the future. It may not have been the fanciest job with the big-name company, but at the end of the day, I had an opportunity to really learn. In some cases, you learn how you shouldn't do business. By working for someone who doesn't do a good job while operating a business, you learn that you don't want to be that kind of boss. In other cases, you might like to work for a person who you think always treated you really well and respected your opinions.
Q: What have you learned since entering your profession that you wish you had known while you were still in law school?
A: I probably wish I had known more about mediation and arbitration as a career path because I probably would have focused a little more on eventually doing that. That would probably be the only thing.
Because I had been working for so long, I knew not to put a lot of pressure on myself, how to have the right mindset, how to prepare. A lot of the things that a lot of people discover while they were in school - I really had had the opportunity to go through all that. Because my law degree was my third degree, I didn't have that much pressure. I was always aware that you don't have to put all of your eggs in one basket, and if you fail at one thing, there's always something else you can do. I always say I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. Who knows? Five years from now I may be doing something different. But there's no one right answer to what you're going to do and how you're going to contribute to the world.
If you have a preconceived notion of what your career and your life is going to be like, and then it's not like that, then you'll be disappointed. Or, a lot of times, it's just like what you pictured, but the reality of what you pictured isn't really that much fun. I had that epiphany when I was studying architecture. I interned at an architecture firm and saw what architects' lives were like every day and how many hours they spent cooped up at a drawing table inside, or nowadays on a computer. And I thought I wasn't meant to be inside this many hours a day and not interacting with people outside of this one little office. In that environment, people tend to be cliquish, and I'm not a cliquish person. I realized, probably halfway through architecture graduate school, that I probably wasn't going to practice architecture in the traditional sense. So understanding who you are and what really gets you going is really important, compared to what you think the career is, the money and the prestige and all that stuff, because that is not going to make you happy at the end of the day.
Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests?
A: Cal football is very high on the list. I love movies, I love to read. I probably read at least one novel or nonfiction book every ten days. And I love cooking. I'm now able to cook more because I work out of my home, so there's more time to cook. I love to cook for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner. I also have a seafood dish that I make; it's a seafood pasta with white wine and garlic and lemon juice. It's very light, but it's very tasty.
Q: Any final comments?
A: Just that I loved studying the law. I finished graduate school nine years before starting law school. It was a great experience. My classmates were great and I made good friends. I loved every minute of studying the law. I thought it was very invigorating. I admire people who deal with it every day.