Hello all! My name is Steve Riley, and I am a second-year law student at Loyola and a returning blogger to Jury of Peers.
A brief word about my background: I am a second-career student, meaning that I worked for roughly ten years between undergrad and law school. I got my bachelor’s degree in music from Berklee College of Music with no inclination to attend law school thereafter. I initially worked at a record company then transitioned to being a full-time drummer doing recording work, musical theater, and various freelance projects as a drummer and sometimes musical arranger.
I decided to try out law school after I started feeling like my music career wouldn’t “age well.” I wanted to do something academic for a change, and also find something that offered a more stable financial future. Also, two years ago, my wife and I had a daughter which changed my career outlook somewhat. But overall, I always imagined myself transitioning out of music at some point in my career. I still play drumming gigs on the side and play guitar every day for fun.
A good deal has changed since my first year at Loyola. I feel completely comfortable in the environment here, and have set my sights on more specific goals. It seems to me that the first year is about survival and, ultimately, grades. The major struggle of a 1L is knowing where you stand and if the choice to go to law school was a good, bad, or somewhere in between.
With the first year behind me, it seems that the second year is about trying out different career paths and seeing how they feel. That’s a much more satisfying place to be in as a student. You worry less about grades and pay more attention the career you’re trying to build. And as someone who is interested in litigation as a career, I dove head-first into the world of practice clinics that Loyola offers.
I applied to be involved with both the Project for The Innocent and the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic. I ended joining the latter (JIFS) and it’s been a great experience. The JIFS clinic, and all the others as well, give you real experience in working with clients, often who are disadvantaged or unable to pay high attorney fees for complex legal issues. The clinics are a great way to gain experience and learn more about the practice, not merely the theories, of law. I would recommend joining a clinic to any 1L or prospective student as they are exciting and challenging in ways that classroom experiences can’t match.