Monday, March 17, 2014

Why Law?

By Marlee, 1D

“Why law”? Being fresh out of college, that frequently asked question was difficult to  answer at first. Working for a law firm sparked an interest and I entered law school to explore that interest. Although I was often warned about the path ahead, I was and am determined to become a lawyer. However, the answer to “why law” was still a work in progress, until last November.

Last semester, my criminal law class was introduced to the story of Mr. Register. Mr. Register was wrongly convicted for murder and spent 34 years in prison before Project for the Innocent and Professor Levenson helped a free man clear his name. Project for the Innocent is a Loyola law school program that helps exonerate the wrongfully convicted, like Mr. Register. Loyola Students have the opportunity to work on projects where they investigate cases and help prove the innocence of the wrongfully convicted.
My class had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Register and hearing his story. When Mr. Register first entered my classroom I was worried about his reaction to us and his experience. But Mr. Register was filled with nothing but positivity. He was tearing [as was the rest of the class] while he told us how he was beyond thankful to Loyola and our class for the donations we gave him. I watched Mr. Register reunite with his family and tell us how he still has faith in the criminal justice system and the lawyers and law students, like those involved in his case, who work so hard to help people. At this moment I was able to answer the nagging question that kept popping up in the back of my mind.

I chose law because I want to help people. Whether I choose criminal law or a different area, lawyers have the unique ability to represent the law and help people every day. Whether representing individuals who are wrongly convicted, someone personally injured in a car accident, or maybe someone discriminated against, people come to lawyers for help. Lawyer have so much power and responsibility because they are representing the rights of individuals and representing the laws that make up the foundation of our country. Being a law student is a hard task, but its because lawyers have a great responsibility and it should not be taken lightly. Programs at Loyola like Project for the Innocent help Loyola law students get involved in real cases and help them figure out their answer to “why law”.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Who are Loyolans?

By Diane, 1E

Investors, entrepreneurs, actors, bankers, models, paralegals, yoga instructors, musicians, philanthropists, volunteers, and lobbyists.

The Loyola Law School student body is comprised of all of these individuals and many, many more.  I’m always amazed to find out what my classmates do when not learning about the law.  They’re going to “pilot season” auditions, organizing care packages for the homeless, re-vamping worn-down properties, negotiating deals, and the list goes on.

I do my best to keep up with this ambitious crowd.  My own extracurricular passion is dog rescue.

It all began during an evening walk through a community park in Iasi, Romania, the city where I lived, in 2010.  I was already well aware of a stray dog problem in the country, but I felt I could do little, if anything, to help.  I was raising an infant son, my husband was wrapping up his studies in dental medicine, and we lived in a cozy one-bedroom unit within a communist-era residential building.

But on that life-changing evening, I happened upon two tiny puppies, sitting alone at the park next to a bench.  We sat down on the bench and waited to see if their mother would come back.  We waited for so long that the puppies eventually curled up on our feet and fell asleep.  How they tugged at my heartstrings!  I couldn’t leave them alone to freeze through the night, so I informed my husband that we were taking the puppies home.  My husband knew better than to disagree with a woman on a mission, so he obliged.  I placed the puppies in the open bottom storage compartment of my son’s stroller and brought them home.  With no pet supplies whatsoever, I had to simply set some newspapers in a cardboard box for the night, and that’s where the puppies slept.  Their sleeping quarters eventually upgraded to the bathtub, which I covered with a rug.  When resources are limited, you have to improvise!
At the vet the next day, the puppies received some flea/tick-controlling drops, vaccinations, and de-worming pills.  Fortunately for everyone, the de-worming phase was short-lived.  The housebreaking stage was slightly more complicated, since I refused to allow the puppies back out on the street, not knowing what kind of diseases they could become infected with since they no longer received any maternal antibodies and since they had not completed the full course of vaccinations either.  So, it was complicated.  If I ever left home with the puppies, I had to carry them around in a bag.  It was quite the spectacle—especially for the locals.  Never had they ever seen an Asian American woman tote two little street mutts around with the pups’ heads poking out of a handbag, while also pushing a baby around in a stroller.
My son actually learned how to crawl and walk while dodging these puppies.  They were the cutest sight to behold, the little trio.  They essentially became part of the family.  Thus, I fantasized about taking the puppies back to Los Angeles with me, but realized it wouldn’t be possible, since I would have to move back in with my parents until I found a place of my own.  Releasing the puppies back onto the streets was, of course, not an option.  Finding them a home in the neighborhood wasn’t an option either, since I was pretty certain they would wind up on the streets eventually—mutts of stray origins just aren’t generally accepted as household pets over there.
So, I performed an online search and found out about Nancy Janes, the founder of Romania Animal Rescue, Inc.  I discovered that Nancy, a native Californian, established the non-profit group after visiting Romania for a backpacking trip.  Upon arrival, she gave up the backpacking tour in favor of feeding the stray dogs.  The problem impacted her so much that she came home and went to work setting up an organization to help.  Since the group’s inception, Nancy has had numerous Romanian vets trained and has funded spay/neuter operations for countless Romanian dogs.

I called Nancy up and told her about my two puppies, and she immediately went to work putting me in touch with local rescue groups.  I was connected with Treue Pfoetchen (TP), a German rescue group that routinely pulled dogs out of Romania for adoption in Germany.  TP agreed to take my puppies before I departed for Los Angeles.  They put me in touch with one of their regular foster homes in Bucharest, the capitol city, where the puppies would stay until a van would pick them up for the road trip to Germany.

So, I packed my bags and my husband drove me from Iasi to Bucharest, a trip that lasted about 6 hours.  The puppies sat on my lap for the duration of the drive, since I didn’t have a crate to put them in.  The poor things were totally unaccustomed to vehicles, so they got carsick and vomited on my lap numerous times.  I think I have since burned the skirt I was wearing that day.

Once in Bucharest, we dropped the puppies off at their foster home.  I boarded a flight back to Los Angeles, while my husband drove back to Iasi to finish his exams.  Back in L.A., I revisited the TP website and found photos of my puppies safe and sound in Germany.  Elated, I knew that wasn’t the last time I would rescue dogs.

In fact, on March 11, 2014, I had the pleasure of welcoming four Romanian street dogs to Los Angeles.  It was an incredible rescue that came together as a result of amazing teamwork, as well as some generous donations of course.  But with that teaser, I will conclude this post—stay tuned for more on the “Romanian Puppy Rescue Mission”!

Who are Loyolans?  Add international dog rescuer to that list.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Summer Associate Tips

By Gillian, 3D

Yesterday I spoke on a panel put on by a campus organization I’m part of – the St. Thomas More Honor Society – and it was all about how to succeed as a Summer Associate.  I spoke along with four other 3Ls about our experiences working as summer associates at “big law” firms the summer between 2L and 3L.  I thought I’d share some take-away points from the panel.

  • Work flow - The workflow during a summer associate position can vary – some of the other folks in my class were constantly bogged down, whereas I was scrounging around for work the last week or so.  The important thing is being able to effectively manage your time, while at the same time not turning down any assignment that may come your way from an attorney. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for work from your work flow coordinator or an assigning attorney you’ve worked with in the past!
  • Assignment Tips
    • After receiving an assignment from an attorney, it’s generally a good idea to respond with an e-mail recapping what the assignment is and what question you’re being asked to research, as well as the format of the assignment and when it is due.  That way, before the assignment even gets going you and the assigning attorney are on the same page). 
    • When submitting an assignment, it’s a good idea to end your e-mail with the attachment by saying “Please let me know if you’d like me to do anything else related to this.”  This provides a natural conclusion to your e-mail and demonstrates interest. 
  • Social events - One of the best things about being a Summer Associate is that there are tons of social events, and free lunches. (No, really.  Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” clearly wasn’t a summer associate).  With that inevitably comes alcohol.  My advice would be to match the tone of the event.  If everyone is having one glass of wine or beer, don’t be the person drinking his or her third rum and coke.  On the other hand, if all of the partners and associates are downing shots, you don’t want to come off as the wet blanket who doesn’t know how to have fun, either.  My advice is to use your judgment and to know yourself, and remember that even a fun night out is still an extended interview. 
  • Final tips -
    • One of the other panelists, Rose, suggested a book called “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law” by Mark Herrman to read before beginning a summer associate position.
    • Don’t engage in gossip with attorneys about other attorneys (probably just a good general life rule).
    • Take constructive criticism well.
    • Don’t mistake “invitations” to meetings or social events as optional – they’re not.   

Monday, March 3, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

By Yungmoon, 2E

As a 2E student, it is important to maintain a balance between school and work.  However, even more important, is finding the time to network.  On-Campus Interviews ("OCI") occur in August following your 2E year, and having connections at participating firms ahead of the event is a huge advantage.  

There are many ways to network as a law student.  First, look to your friends and family who may be legal professionals, and ask their advice.  This can range from how they ended up in their positions, to what courses in law school they enjoyed.

Second, make use of resources available on-campus.  For example, Loyola's Office of Career Services ("OCS") hosts and publicizes many networking opportunities, such as panels and mixers hosted by local firms and bar associations.  I have attended events such as a panel at a downtown law firm about different career paths in law, brunch hosted by a local bar association, and I am signed up to participate in a mock interview with an attorney from another local bar association.  Students can also meet with their individual counselors at OCS to review resumes and cover letters, as well as gain tips on appropriate interview etiquette.  

Additionally, the Alumni Office has a database of alumni searchable by such factors as year of graduation, concentration, current firm, location, and past activities.  This is another great way to reach out to professionals who may be able to help you in the future.  With 16,000 alumni in 50 states, and over half the alumni practicing in Southern California, it is likely that you will be able to find an attorney who matches your interests.

Student groups on campus also organize on-campus speakers and mixers.  After these events, the participants often remain for a few extra minutes to meet students, answer questions, and perhaps even hand out business cards.

Successful networking is an art that must be perfected over time with practice.  As a first year at Loyola, you participate in Orientation Part II which gives you tips on how to make a good first impression, reach out to someone for the first time, and reach out to contacts when searching for employment without feeling like a door-to-door salesman.  While these are difficult tasks, I recommend participating in as many events as you can, because for networking, just like with any other skill, practice makes perfect