Monday, May 20, 2019

Loyola's Pro-Bono Requirement

One of the factors that originally drew me to Loyola was their commitment to social justice, and their public interest focus. As part of our graduation requirements all Loyola students must complete at least forty pro-bono hours. While as 1Ls our primary focus is our classes, I’ve still had the opportunity to become involved in some of the pro-bono opportunities on campus. As first-year students we have the opportunity to complete up to ten hours of pro-bono work during our Spring semester. This semester I will complete some of my pro-bono hours by volunteering as a mentor for Loyola’s Young Lawyers Program.

Loyola’s Young Lawyers Program brings students from local high schools to campus to teach them the main aspects of litigation. Students learn how to write opening and closing statements, how to challenge evidence, and how to direct and cross-examine witnesses. At the end of the semester students compete with other groups as either plaintiffs or defendants. In our role of mentors, we assist high school students in preparing for their roles and we encourage them to continue their education. Participating in Young Lawyers this semester has been a great opportunity that I hope to continue next year. Having the opportunity to mentor first generation students is incredibly empowering and helping put together the trial gives me the opportunity to apply what I learn in the classroom in a practical way.

While I hope to continue being a part of Young Lawyers in the upcoming years, I am also excited to pursue other opportunities to help our community. For instance, next Fall I hope to apply for either the Street Law Teaching Practicum or the Civil Rights Law Practicum. I also hope to have the opportunity to work for the Project for the Innocent, which works to exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted. I feel Loyola has so many opportunities to become involved with the community and to do meaningful pro-bono work that the hard part is deciding how to fit all my interests into my time in law school.

Friday, May 17, 2019

I'm Pro-Pro Bono!


So you’re currently a prospective student for Loyola, and you’ve just learned that Loyola was one of the first law schools in the country to both encourage pro bono student work and actually require it for graduation.  You must be thinking: “Wow, I have to do the school thing, and do 40 hours of pro bono work too? What’s pro bono work? How will I find it?  When will I have time?!”  But fret not reader, you have three years, including the summer to finish those hours.  Plus, there are plenty of opportunities available to Loyola students.  Let’s get started:

·       There are off-campus opportunities at the various non-profit organizations in the area, such as the ACLU or the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), that become known to students through listings in the “Need 2 Know News” mailer or emails from the Career Development Office or Public Interest Department.
·       The various clubs and organizations on campus have pro bono opportunities as well.  For example, when I worked as a research assistant for one of the professors at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic (LIJC), we ran a project that sent law students of varied experiences and interests to go to the Detained Immigration Court in Downtown Los Angeles to sit in on the hearings and take down the information of those respondents who were unrepresented or eligible for pro bono legal representation.  These students were able to select their hours to volunteer and had the option to do it for pro bono hours too.
·       Additionally, there are opportunities through the different on-campus Social Justice Clinics, which include the Project for the Innocent, Immigrant Justice Clinic and Juvenile Justice Clinic.  Students can apply for these clinics during the spring semester for participation in the following year for either a single semester or full-year. 

Currently, I am in the middle of completing my pro bono requirement through my enrollment and participation in Loyola’s Project for the Innocent.  As mentioned in my previous experiential learning blog post, it’s a one-year requirement that involves evaluating and working on cases of those currently serving life sentences in California state prisons for the purpose of building a case of wrongful conviction.  These are real people with real cases, and the experience to date, because of this real-life component, has been heart-wrenching, moving, awe-inspiring, and humbling.
            As a clinic student we have a couple requirements, which include:

·       Attending a two-hour seminar once a week in which we learn about subjects, such as  the different issues present in wrongful conviction cases, complete assignments pertinent to the class discussion that week, and write memos and essays pertaining to our assigned cases.
·       Holding a minimum of four in-clinic office hours a week during the semester.
·       Completing a minimum total of 150 hours of work on our cases each semester.

It may sound like a lot of work, on top of academics, but to date, it’s been a manageable and unique experience that’s allowed me to learn about the justice system and prevalent legal issues, fulfill my pro bono requirement for graduation, and gain invaluable legal experience.  I have found that participating in pro-bono work has been such a unique experience that’s allowed me to explore a different area of the law and become a more well-rounded student and future lawyer. So I’m definitely pro-pro bono work while in law school!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pro Bono is Fun!

As part of my graduation requirement here at Loyola, I have to complete 40 pro bono hours before I graduate. That goes for every single student at Loyola: we all have to complete 40 hours of pro bono work. It is part of the school’s commitment to public interest law.

I didn’t start working on my pro bono hours until this year as a 2L and now I have over half of the required hours done. I was able to satisfy many of my pro bono hours by being a bailiff and helping set-up the National Civil Trial Competition, or NCTC. NCTC is a national trial advocacy competition that is hosted by Loyola every year. The Byrne Trial Team plays a large part in hosting the competition, which is why I was so heavily involved this year.

As a bailiff, I kept time for the trial advocacy competition and was the liaison for the competition judges. I was able to watch several impressive trial advocacy teams compete, which was incredibly entertaining, while at the same time satisfying my pro bono requirement. It was nice to have the opportunity to not only satisfy my requirement, but also have fun doing it and be really interested in the subject matter!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Networking and Career Development Opportunities

Law school is a sea of unknowns. Almost everything you encounter is unfamiliar. For me in particular, the place, the people, the city, the structure, the professors, the content, was all new. Loyola definitely realizes how all these foreign experiences can weigh on a first-year law student and they do an excellent job at taking some of that pressure off of us.

Among the plethora of challenges, learning how to network is one of the most pressing difficulties of law school. Loyola hosts a variety of networking panels, guest speakers and other career development events to help kick start our career search and to give us much needed experience at networking with all kinds of attorneys.

I have been lucky enough to attend a variety of these events. I am part of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society as well as a 1L representative for the Woman in Entertainment Law Society and Woman’s Law Association. They, along with other Loyola clubs, have put on a host of wonderful events this year, in which attorneys from different fields travel to Loyola’s campus to talk to us about their experiences in their chosen industry and to give us advice about the steps we should be taking to set ourselves up for success. While I have enjoyed all of the guest speakers thus far, the most memorable was when the general counsel for the Lakers, Dan Grigsby, visited Loyola to share information on how he was able to work his way to such a prominent position.

Loyola puts on brown bag lunch events and panels, which involve a variety of attorneys speaking about their experiences and answering any questions we may have. Further, Loyola organizes numerous networking events. I recently had the pleasure of attending the spring law firm reception, where about 20 firms came to campus and we were allotted time to speak and network with representatives from the firms. This event was extremely helpful, and I followed up with many of the employers that I was able to speak with. These panels and events are extremely advantageous in building our network of connections and in facilitating our growth as future lawyers.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Networking and the Summer Job Hunt

Networking and job hunting can absolutely be one of the most intimidating and challenging aspects of a legal education. Networking is one of those soft skills that cannot really be taught and the hunt for work is unending. I don’t claim to be a master of “working the room” or of sniffing out the premium job postings but I do feel much more confident than I did just six months ago. I owe that in large part to all the events and emails from the Career Development Office.

During the Fall semester, Career Development was actually forbidden from talking to us 1Ls! The idea is that we should focus on our studies and not even worry about employment. As soon as the Spring semester started, though, job hunting season starts in full-force. Since January, most days have been occupied by some sort of information session on various areas of law or legal research. So far, I have been to events for in-house counsel, corporate transactional law, a panel on becoming a judge, a focus group with a real estate firm, I just got home from the spring job fair, and I have an upcoming information session on the Navy JAG Corps. I also continue to organize similar events for the Real Estate Law Society and the Wine & Spirits Law Society. All the while, I’m still sending out resumes and follow up on any job opportunities I hear about. Needless to say, if I’m not studying, there is still plenty to do.

In addition to the full load of events, Career Development also sends out TONS of emails about off-campus networking events and job postings. Unfortunately, most of their emails are sent out around same time every day so it can definitely become overwhelming. Around 10:30 AM on any given day, you can count on receiving anywhere between ten to twenty emails from Career Development all at once. It doesn’t sound like a lot, especially if you’ve spent some time in an office job, but when you’re bouncing from a two-hour class in the morning right over to a noon panel, to a pair of afternoon classes, all while receiving other emails from student groups, classes, research event announcements from Lexis and Westlaw, it can certainly add up. My advice is to give each email a quick glance, look for any words or phrases that interest you, flag the ones that you want to come back to later that evening, and move on. Most events and emails honestly won’t be that interesting but you have to check anyway. No one but you will discover those hidden gems that everyone else overlooked! That is precisely how I found my clerkship with the Tenant’s Law Firm over the winter break. You just never know what sorts of interesting opportunities are out there or what connections you might make.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Networking and Career Opportunities

One question that I’m almost always asked on job interviews is: “So why did you decide to transfer to Loyola?” After interviewing a handful of times, I realized that this would be a question that would follow me throughout my time in law school and beyond. While I could easily rattle off a number of reasons why I decided to transfer to Loyola, I took a little more time to think of a strong, honest, and accurate answer to this favorite interview question.

The answer I have so carefully crafted so far highlights Loyola’s huge network and unwavering emphasis on experiential learning. Whether you happen to meet an alumnus at your local coffee shop or get the opportunity to interview for a job with a Loyola alum, it seems as though Loyola graduates dominate California’s legal scene. Further, as I had mentioned in my last post, the student organizations, clinics, and other experiential learning opportunities at Loyola give students the ability to get real world experience that becomes invaluable upon graduation.

With this massive network in place, the Career Development Office and other organizations on campus have been able to connect students to some of the most prominent attorneys in a variety of different fields. The goal is for students to develop meaningful connections within the field and ultimately become the next group of thriving attorneys.

For me, one of my biggest concerns has always been finding a job—whether it be a part-time externship or a full-time summer job. Consequently, I can easily say that the Career Development Office has become an amazing resource and my counselor, in turn, has become my go-to person for anything job related.

Aside from the traditional OCI process and the school’s constantly-updated Symplicity page, the most helpful experience so far has been the Law Firm Reception put on by the Career Development Office. At the Law Firm Reception, I was able to pass out my resume to many potential employers and speak to them regarding any open positions they may have in their offices for the upcoming year. Many of the attorneys there came from highly esteemed law firms and were Loyola alums—yet another testament to Loyola’s wide-reaching network.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Networking and Career Development Opportunities

I feel like every week there is at least one event on campus catered to teaching students about a certain area of the law. Brown bag lunches are always great because students are able to hear straight from practicing attorneys what it is like to be in their line of work. Loyola alumni consistently come to campus to speak with students, which is incredibly helpful for getting a fresh perspective. For me, public interest law week has been the best experience because it brings organizations to campus so that students can meet with them and explore the opportunities that are available. I haven’t taken advantage of the other opportunities on campus just because I haven’t had the time, but I’m really looking forward to doing so in the coming two years. It is a little more challenging to find ways to stay involved and network as an evening student, so I am planning to quit my current job and dive into legal work in the near future. I’m sure that when the time comes, I will put Loyola’s programming to good use!