Wednesday, January 30, 2019

My Summer After 1L Year

When I found out that Forever 21 even had an externship program, I jumped on the opportunity to apply. After all, how could you not take advantage at your chance to work at one of your favorite stores as a teenager? After miraculously making it past my horrific phone interview, I secured the position.

As a multi-billion dollar corporation with over 50,000 employees, Forever 21 had taken the world of fast-fashion by storm since its first store opening in Downtown Los Angeles. Consequently, the abundance of issues that came up within the legal department provided me with great insight into what it really takes to run a successful business.

Over the course of the summer, I received assignments from attorneys who specialized in different practice areas. Although everyone had their specialty, I appreciated the sense of community and camaraderie that existed between everyone working in the best interest of one entity.

Even though I was just an extern, my boss liked to call us “baby attorneys.” With that said, I did everything from redlining contracts to investigating the latest cyber security laws. I was able to interact with outside counsel, attending meetings, and voice my opinion on a variety of different matters. One particularly interesting event was attending an EEOC settlement conference. While I never saw myself in employment law, being at the settlement conference allowed me to see the practice area the law in action.

Not only did I leave Forever 21 with a newfound appreciation for my legal education, but I was also able to develop meaningful connections within the legal community. Naturally, I look forward to my next opportunity to apply my legal skills to a real world setting.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Summer break: A small taste of life after law school

One of the best things about my summer break was that I was able to settle back into a day-to-day routine. I have really enjoyed law school so far, but the irregularity of my daily schedule – which includes the constant, crushing pressure to study at all times – made it nearly impossible for me to get into a daily regimen. That might seem like a small thing, but it meant it was difficult to set aside time to do other things that I enjoy.

So, it was amazing when summer hit. I had a nine to five internship that I loved, and where I rarely had to stay late. I had the evenings and weekends to plot and scheme. I started hiking every weekend in the San Gabriel Mountains, just outside of town, which was great for my mental health.

I also organized a handful of experimental music shows (the grainy photo below is a screenshot from a video taken at one of them). I threw myself back into the radio show I host on Sundays, booking guests and setting up in-studio performances. (The second picture is me with avant garde rock legend Carla Bozulich.) Plus, I read three whole books!

Meanwhile, I loved my internship. I worked at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which litigates civil rights cases on behalf of the state. Honestly, it was exciting just to carry around my State of California ID every day. I have always wanted to work for the government – particularly agencies that exist to protect vulnerable communities.

More importantly, I got to work on real cases, attending court hearings and helping draft papers submitted to the court. It was a great educational experience, but particularly so because it affirmed in my mind that civil rights litigation is really what I want to do as an attorney. I love using my mind to craft arguments on behalf of clients who need assistance, particularly if the cases have the opportunity to impact the larger community – and they often do. And I came to the realization that without civil rights attorneys, many injustices that occur, particularly those experienced by minority and low-income communities, would never be addressed.

My goal is that my life after law school will look something like this – with days spent vigorously representing the underrepresented, with (most) nights and weekends saved for living my own life to the fullest.

Friday, January 25, 2019

My Summer After 1L Year

The summer after your first year of law school as an evening student is not quite the same as what a full-time student might experience. Evening students aren’t expected to work at a firm, public interest organization, etc. after their first year because they still haven’t finished up the first year curriculum. Further, many evening students work full time in jobs without flexible schedules, so summers are really up in the air.

However, as a tutor, my schedule offered the flexibility I needed to take some time to remind myself why I went to law school in the first place. So, I decided to work as a volunteer law clerk at Neighborhood Legal Services 3 or so days each week. I still got the experience of working over the summer and was part of a cohort of clerks from other law schools, but it was great that I was able to continue working during that time, while also taking Constitutional Law.

My time at Neighborhood Legal Services, helping with their clean slate initiatives was really valuable for me. Everyone that I worked with was really hands on and helpful. It’s a unique experience to be able to spend time somewhere where attorneys and other staff members are truly interested in giving you the best experience possible. The attorney that I worked under helped me learn so much about the criminal justice system, how to interview and interact with litigants, and complete paperwork. While I may not have had the full experience that other interns had, I think this gave me a solid foundation to continue to pursue other related opportunities, while also getting to help those in my community.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My Summer Before 1L Year

In the road to law school there are many crossroads. From where to attend to where to live, and what organizations to join; it is a constant decision-making exercise. One of these crossroads for me was deciding how to spend my summer break. This summer, I was torn between wanting to save money and taking advantage of what will likely be my last opportunity to go on vacation (at least for a while).

Since my family didn’t have much growing up and we didn’t get to travel many places, I made the choice to use some of the savings I had from working to make sure I saw as much as I could before law school started. I kicked off my summer by relaxing in Hawaii and eating fresh coconuts by the ocean at sunset. I drove the Road to Hana and saw some of the most amazing views of the Pacific. I concluded my trip by learning that snorkeling is not for everyone. Mid-summer, I flew for my first ever trip to New York City. For me this was a childhood dream. Coming from a working-class Mexican family, my idea of the United States was shaped by the portrayal of New York City in T.V. shows and movies. Walking across the Brooklyn bridge, taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and getting lost and caught in the rain at Central Park, was all a dream come true. Even the subway had its own kind of charm.

As the first one in my family to attend professional school, I had many anxieties and fears that came with the excitement of embarking on this journey. However, it is easier to drown out those fears with the sound of the waves, sand on your feet, and the lights in Time Square.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Debunk A Law School Myth

One of the biggest myths about law school is that it is extremely competitive. Before I applied for law school, I was told that it would be nightmarishly competitive, that people would not cooperate with each other, and even that people would actively work to sabotage each other. This is not true at Loyola. I have found that, while there is competition, the competition is not so strenuous or extreme that people are unwilling to work with each other. In fact, the method of instruction in law classes forces students to work together to an extent because the quality of one student’s preparation to answer questions can help or hinder other students who are in class. Beyond that, while there is competition, there is also cooperation. One student’s gain is not another student’s loss. Indeed, one student’s gain can be another student’s gain as well.

Another myth that I was told about law school is that it is "elitist." There is a common belief that law schools are exclusively made up of students from the upper and upper-middle classes. At Loyola, I have found that this could not be further from the truth. Rather than being filled with an exclusive preserve of people from privileged backgrounds, my classes have been filled with people from a variety of different classes and backgrounds. Because of this, the discussions that occur during class are lively and interesting and enable me to learn from people from very diverse backgrounds contributing different perspectives.

There are many myths about law school, but I have found that relatively few of them are true. While I can’t speak for all law schools, Loyola has been a welcoming, yet challenging, place where, for the most part, students work together. There is a great sense of community at Loyola, and in all of my experiences, the professors have been extremely interested in the success of students.

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.