Friday, January 18, 2019

Introduction: Amelia Dunaway

Hi! My name is Amelia, and I’m currently in my first year at Loyola. I'm from a small town outside of New Orleans which is surrounded by swamps, the Mississippi River, and a huge oil refinery that more or less stood in as a night light for the entire parish (we didn't have counties in Louisiana). I moved to California in 2008, and I earned my bachelor's degree in philosophy from UCLA. During my time at UCLA, I also began to discover the joy of flying.

I am slowly, but surely, working toward having my pilot’s license and, while I doubt that I will ever own an airplane, I really can't even begin to tell you how much I love to fly. When I’m on the ground, I spend most of my time studying for class or reading for my own enjoyment. I also enjoy, if that’s the right word, following politics with a mixture of horror and amusement.

As a law student, my pastime as a political spectator has been elevated. Equipped with the beginnings of Criminal Law and Civil Procedure, the political circus of the past few months has become much more compelling. Even though I know that I still have a lot to learn, what I have learned so far has given me a unique perspective on the events that I watch on TV.

More relevant to my current experiences, I am enjoying law school. It is not an easy undertaking and it is one where you will soon learn your limitations. However, it is also one where you will quickly learn that limits can be overcome and that steady, measured efforts are the best path to success. It is an experience with endless opportunities, and it is one that I am absolutely enjoying.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Summer After 1L Year

When I was younger, I would always look forward to the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. This past 1L year was no different. 1L was a challenge, so it was nice to have a couple of months to regroup, reorient, and relax. With everything that was going on during the year with all the crazy schedules, deadlines, and appointments, I really made sure to balance work and play during this time off.

This past summer I worked as a research assistant (RA) for the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic (LIJC) under Kayleen Hartman, one of the clinic attorneys. One of my main tasks was to launch and coordinate the docket screening project, which sent law students to the Detained Immigration Court in Downtown Los Angeles for the purpose of observing the master docket and collecting the information of respondents who may be require or be eligible for pro bono legal representation. Our purpose with the project was to connect respondents currently in removal proceedings with local organizations who could provide these pro bono legal services. Fortunately, we received amazing feedback from these local organizations who were excited to get law students involved with the immigration process. I currently still work as a research assistant with LIJC, and I’m happy to share that we are in our second semester and have students from UCLA, USC, and Loyola law schools of all years and levels of experience going to the court every week to volunteer their time and help with our cause.

My other task as a research assistant was (unsurprisingly lol) to do research, which really gave me the opportunity to work on my research skills and learn more about what has been going on with our country’s immigration system. Ultimately, I believe, in the current political and social state of our country, there was and is no better area of the law for me to have been involved in this year, and I am so happy to have had and continue to have the opportunity.

When I wasn’t working, I made sure to take care of myself, catch up with the people I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would’ve liked, eat amazing food, and do fun things outside of the law school bubble. I made sure to go to as many concerts and music events as I possibly could so I could just let go and get lost in the music. I thoroughly utilized my respective annual passes at Universal Studios and Disneyland and made many MANY memories with the people I love.

I went to Dodgers games and cheered on my boys in blue – GO DODGERS!


And most importantly, I made sure to spend lots of time with my dog!

Thanks for stopping by friends! Until next time!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Summer Lovin'... My Job

What did I do last summer? Oh, just solidified what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, no big deal.

Last summer, I finally got to put all of that basic legal education to work as a law clerk at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. For those of you that may not know, 1Ls are not supposed to work, so the summer after 1L is the first chance you get to put your newfound legal education to the test. I chose to do that in the criminal law field.

When I was applying for jobs, Sacramento was my first choice because I knew the office had a great reputation among Loyola alums and the majority of my family lives in Sacramento County (aka free rent and food and cable and all of the amazing perks that come with pretending you still live at home with your parents). I am thankful that I was offered the job because I learned more than I could have ever hoped.

My responsibilities as a law clerk included going to arraignment court multiple times a week, working up misdemeanor case files, and doing projects and research for different felony units. I enjoyed all of these tasks for different reasons. When it came to arraignment court, I mostly observed and helped keep files organized for the attorneys because I could not speak on the record (for future reference, you can speak on the record as a certified law clerk, but in order to become certified, you have to take Evidence, which you do not take until 2L year). However, there is just an amazing rush that comes from being in the courtroom and feeling the fast pace of it all, even when you cannot speak on the record.

Then there was the puzzle that came with working up case files: this meant that I would receive a new misdemeanor file and make a plea offer recommendation to the DDA (Deputy District Attorney) handling the case. No incoming case is the same and every set of facts is going to be different and change the recommendations you make to your supervisor, so it is always a new challenge. Finally, projects and research is exactly what it sounds like, except more exciting than you think. I had the opportunity to work with the majority of the felony units in the office, including Homicide, Sexual Abuse and Child Abuse, Career Criminal, and more, and each assignment that they gave me was completely different and utterly fascinating.

I also spent the last part of the summer commuting back to Los Angeles for boot camp. What is boot camp you ask? No, it isn’t a work out class (Gym? I don’t know him), it was a weeks long training for the Byrne Trial Advocacy Team (Loyola’s nationally ranked trial team) before the school year starts. Boot camp ended with a trial where I made pre-trial motions, direct-examined, cross-examined, and delivered a closing argument. That feeling in the courtroom I mentioned earlier? It is still exactly the same when the case is a trial advocacy case. Thank goodness, or else I don’t know if I would be able to last until next summer.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Debunk A Law School Myth

I was 100 percent convinced I would have zero friends in law school.

This was not because I love being home by 10 pm, or because most of the time I will opt for takeout and 90’s films.

I thought I would be completely on my own because every person I talked to that had attended law school told me that law school WASN’T a place to make friends. Their logic was premised on 1.) everyone in law school secretly hates each other and everyone is just fighting to be at the top of their class and 2.) I was from out of state and didn’t have any undergrad or pre-law school friends in the area.

Of course, I pondered this insightful advice that was being given to me (most of the time without me asking for it). I frequently found myself construing cost-benefit analysis’ in my head. They went something like this: “law school is expensive, but hey I’ll get a good job! But what if I go insane? You know because I have no friends. Also what if I hate my job? Well maybe I’ll still make decent money, but back to the being completely isolated thing, not sure I can do that…”

It went on and on like this, until I just rolled my eyes at the last middle-aged man who told me “to rethink the law school idea”, and said “thank you, but I’m going.”

Maybe Loyola is different than other law schools, or maybe everyone was lying to me, but I most definitely have friends here. During orientation, a professor told me that her three best friends to this day were the people that she sat next to during her 1L year.

No one has lied to me or tried to trip me up on an assignment. My experience thus far has been highly collaborative. For the most part everyone is willing to help everyone, students and teachers alike.

It is true that we are all technically competing to be at the top of our class, but I learned quickly that law school is a marathon and a little social interaction goes a long way. Plenty of people will tell you not to go to law school, sometimes you just need to roll your eyes.

You will have friends in law school,

Especially if you come to Loyola.

Friday, December 14, 2018

LLS Pressure Cooker: Dispelling the Myth

We have all heard the famous “Look to your left and then look to your right” story.Believe it or not, law school is NOT out to destroy you. The amount of collaboration, positivity, and fun that permeates Loyola has consistently surprised me. Professors and students alike encourage an open and supportive environment where students can find joy in their work and have fun while learning the law.

The professors and staff do an incredible job keeping things fun. Prof. Levenson for example welcomes us to each criminal law class with upbeat music from showtunes to classical rock. On more than one occasion, she has invited students to dance in class. She also keeps us grounded in the humanity of the law, both in its flaws and its empathy. Even after subjecting a poor soul to intense scrutiny on a particular issue, she will ask the class to applaud the student’s effort. As we have learned, there are very few absolute answers in a law school lecture. What matters is the attempt to make an argument.

The students at Loyola are just as incredible. We all work together keep our learning experience open and positive. Virtually everyone is willing to help with an outline or lecture notes. I have never been turned away by anyone if I had a question about an issue discussed in lecture. One person in my section lost her laptop at the airport along with all of her notes and all of her course work. When the class found out, every single person volunteered to share their notes. A few even offered her a spare laptop! Everyone works hard and wants to succeed but, at the end of the day, we are all in the same boat so we might as well row along together.

1For those who haven’t, the punchline is that only one in three people are able to cope with the stress and workload of law school to make it to graduation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Debunk A Law School Myth

Being an LLM student is challenging and exciting at the same time because I have never studied in a foreign country before. Since day one of law school, everything is absolutely new and different for me! Especially because I am from a foreign country, I have heard a lot of stories about going to law school in the United States and one story I heard repeatedly is that you do not have friends in law school because everybody is so competitive. I also have heard that everybody goes to class dressed up in business attire. Well, none of these stories are entirely true – at least from what I have seen. Law school is naturally a competitive place, but I feel that Loyola Law School has the friendliest competitive environment of all. In my experience, I have classes with different sections and even with evening students, so I get to meet and study with every kind of law student, and until now all of them were nice and friendly to me, offering help with anything that I need. I think that is so important because having a good environment makes everything easy and we feel that we are not alone in this path that is law school. My biggest fear as an international student was to feel alone and to feel that I did not know what was going on, but I never felt that way at Loyola – and this has to do not only with the students, but also all the staff and professors (everybody is just SO nice!)

And about the dress code, well, no, it is definitely a myth that people go to law school dressed up in business attire. There are some people who dress in business attire and others who do not. It is school, just dress however you feel comfortable! There are people with all kind of styles, which shows how diverse Loyola is. This is definitely one of the things that I love the most about Loyola. It is good and important to see that our campus is a place that the students feel comfortable to be who they truly are.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Debunk a Law School Myth

Competition is inherently embedded into the education system: in elementary school you compete for that gold star sticker, in middle school you compete to get into those AP and Honors classes, in high school you compete to get into college, and in college you compete against the class curve. With that said, being competitive is almost an expected trait in your average law student: if you’ve made it this far, chances are you’ve had to be selfish at least once or twice.

However, one of the myths I heard over and over again in the process of applying to law school was how much more competitive law students were and how this hindered the ability to create genuine relationships with classmates. “At the end of the day, your friends are your competition,” people said. As the stakes get higher, people get increasingly more competitive, right?

While this seems like a logical inference, my experiences in law school thus far have proven that this particular myth is just that—a myth. Even though my time at Loyola has been limited as a transfer student, I have yet to encounter this level of extreme competition. What I have found is that, especially as the new kid, people are welcoming and happy to help a fellow student. Instead of trying to hinder one another, students at Loyola share a sense of camaraderie and the “we’re all in this together” mentality seems more pervasive than ever.

This leads me to my next point: making friends in law school. According to the myth, law students are too busy looking out for themselves to socialize or make friends. However, my time at Loyola has once again proven otherwise. Whether it’s struggling through that one impossible class together or being part of the same student organization, law school presents so many opportunities for students to come together and build lasting relationships. Although each of us will eventually follow different paths, the unique experience of going through law school and the bonds we created with one another will follow us long after graduation.