From Marine to Law Student

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public
Leave a Comment »

Marine CorpsDerek Randall is a rising second-year law student whose career path started in the Marine Corps and now is headed toward the JAG Corps.  In this interview, Derek discusses the interplay between military work and the study of law, as well as his amazing opportunity to work this summer at Quantico doing legal defense through Marquette’s Washington D.C. Initiative program.  Derek shared with me that he was already in the courtroom a few days after he arrived at Quantico this summer.  One of the highlights of his experience was a visit to Justice Sotomayor’s chambers at the United States Supreme Court.  Derek received the Huiras award this spring at Marquette for excellence.

1. How did you end up in law school?

Let me start off by saying that these statements reflect only the views of the author and do not reflect the position or views of the United States Marine Corps, Department of the Navy, or Department of Defense. Now that’s out of the way, I suppose I’m a career-changer in a certain sense. I became a field artillery officer in the Marine Corps in 2008 after graduating from Texas A&M University. While I loved serving in the Marine Corps, I ultimately did not enjoy many aspects of my specific job. For my last deployment to Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to take a non-traditional assignment that included, among other things, investigating malfeasance of low-level civic officials in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. I ended up working closely with a Marine Judge Advocate (military lawyer) for a few months and really enjoyed the work. Once I got back from Afghanistan, I was due for a respite tour so the Marine Corps assigned me to Naval ROTC instructor duty for a year. Still keen on becoming an attorney, I took the LSAT and applied for the Marine Corps’ 2014 active-duty Law Education Program while I was teaching ROTC students. I was selected and received new orders to Marquette’s law school to complete the requirements for a Juris Doctor.  Marquette has a great reputation in the Navy and Marine Corps thanks to its relatively large Navy ROTC unit, so I’ve been thrilled with the opportunity to go to law school here while on active duty.

Read more »

Print Friendly



A Midwestern Law Student’s Summer in the UK

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Public
Leave a Comment »

20150715_142136_smOn top of a dormant volcano in Edinburgh, I took in the breath-taking view of the city (I also needed to take a breath after climbing for nearly two hours). I stayed on Arthur’s Seat for an hour, quietly reflecting about the previous two months and just how transformative they were for me.

In fact, I’d go so far as saying this summer is fundamentally life-altering.

I had a rare opportunity to study law abroad in London with Syracuse University for seven weeks. I’ve rarely been outside of the Midwest, much less the United States. Even though I had a passport, I never found the right reason to go out of the country.

This experience was the right one. Read more »

Print Friendly



Israel Reflections 2015–Day 6: Bar Ilan University

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Public
Leave a Comment »

One of the most important parts of our trip was spending time with students from other universities and comparing academic experiences. During our time in Tel Aviv, we were privileged to meet with Professor Michal Alberstein and other faculty at Bar Ilan University as well as several students to discuss their dispute resolution curriculum and the different practical experiences offered to students.

Student Avery Mayne offers some insight: Read more »

Print Friendly



The Study of International Law in American Law Schools: A Brief History

Posted by:
Category: International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Education, Public
Leave a Comment »

As I’ve discussed in other posts, international law has a fairly peripheral role in American legal education. Only eight schools require their students to complete a course on the subject, and the range of international electives tends to be quite limited. Wondering whether this is only a recent phenomenon or instead something with deeper roots, I did a little research into historical practice. It turns out that scholars have surveyed the state of international legal education in the United States multiple times over the course of the past century. By combining their work—including two particularly good pieces by Manley Hudson (1929) and William Bishop (1953)—with a recent survey of my own, we can gain at least a rough sense for how the curriculum has evolved over time. Here’s what I found:

First, international law had a role even in the Founding era. In 1779, for example, the law of nations was added to the instructional duties of the “moral professor” at William & Mary. In 1790, James Wilson devoted a “considerable part” of his lectures at the College of Philadelphia to the law of nations, while James Kent lectured on the subject at King’s College just a few years later. According to Hudson, “the law of nations had a recognized place in the pursuit of a legal education, and it formed a part of the learning of many of the better-educated lawyers” of the period. Read more »

Print Friendly



Learning Outcomes: Consistently Developing Predictably Competent Graduates

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public
Leave a Comment »

DiplomaConsistency and predictability—these are two principles that I have come to appreciate during my first year of law school. Schedule—predictable, every Tuesday/Thursday, 5:30-9:00. Exams—unpredictable, but consistently challenging. Reading—consistent onslaught of interesting, yet challenging cases.

In the majority of the prescribed 1L courses, stare decisis has been discussed as one doctrine that helps the court gain credibility by producing predictable decisions. This doctrine has sparked a few observations about consistencies and inconsistencies with respect to the law—observations that warrant reflection.

In the upcoming month, I look forward to sharing these not-so-fleeting thoughts with you as a student blogger for March. Read more »

Print Friendly



Tell Me a Story

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Legal Writing, Public
Leave a Comment »

Little_Red_Riding_Hood_WPA_posterOnce upon a time . . .

I started my last post with those same four words, so I hope you’ll forgive me the repetition. They’re good words for a beginning (though perhaps not in a piece of legal writing!). But why are they such good words to start with? I could wax poetic about creating a sense of nostalgia for a time long past, where wonderful things were possible . . . but that’s not it. They’re good words for a beginning because we all know what comes after them: a story.

Stories are powerful things. For millennia, human beings have told each other stories. We pass down knowledge and wisdom, warnings and inspiration to each other through tales. Myths from cultures all over the world and all throughout history were created to explain natural phenomena, and to try to answer questions about the deeper meaning of human existence. Folk tales and fables teach lessons about hubris and humility, social values and the dangers of greed and other vices. In the Christian Bible, Jesus teaches using parables that will be familiar to anyone who went to Sunday School—the mustard seed, the prodigal son. Why? Isn’t it easier to say, for instance, “Don’t be too greedy!” than to tell the story of King Midas? Read more »

Print Friendly



Exchange Programs Let Law Students Explore the World

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public
Leave a Comment »

University-of-CopenhagenStudents at the Marquette University Law School have several opportunities to make their legal education a truly international experience.  Of course, each summer the Law School offers its popular Summer Session in International and Comparative Law, a month long program in Giessen, Germany.  Every other year, Professor Schneider also offers her course in International Dispute Resolution, which includes 10 days of travel to Israel and meetings with representatives of the Israeli government.  More information on these opportunities will be provided at two orientation sessions held on February 19.

However, these orientation sessions will also provide information regarding a more immersive study abroad experience: the opportunity to spend an entire semester studying law at one of the Law School’s three law student exchange partners in Europe.  Through partnerships with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the University of Comillas in Madrid, Spain, and the University of Poitiers in France, the Marquette University Law School regularly hosts foreign students from our partner institutions for a semester, and also sends Marquette law students to our partners to study abroad for a semester. Read more »

Print Friendly



22nd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Nicole Ostrowski

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public
Leave a Comment »

Nicole OstrowskiThe 22nd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held in the evening on Friday, February 13, 2015 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Nicole Ostrowski, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS fellow.  Besides her work as a PILS fellow, Nicole is helping to organize this year’s auction.

Where did you work as a PILS fellow?

I worked at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office–Milwaukee Trial Division, both this past summer and the summer between my 1L and 2L year as a PILS fellow.

What kind of work did you do there?

I mainly worked on misdemeanor cases and did anything and everything with the cases I was assigned, including preparing for a jury trial that unfortunately did not go. I was very fortunate in my fellowships because I was able to get a lot of hands on experience with clients, including visits to the jail by myself! My time with the Public Defender has helped me learn what it’s like to actually be an attorney in practice, as opposed to simply learning how to think and write like an attorney, as we’re taught in law school.

Read more »

Print Friendly



Figure Skating and Law School

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Public
Leave a Comment »

414px-2011_World_Figure_Skating_Championships_(12)Throughout my childhood, I have loved figure skating with a passion and vigor that rivals no other. Although I no longer compete, I enjoyed watching the United States Figure Skating Championship this past weekend because it demonstrated the hard work necessary to succeed. As a result, I now reflect on the valuable skills figure skating has taught me in relation to law school. Bear with me in my attempt to relate something I love with something I have a growing appreciation of. Here are just a few of the lessons I learned from this weekend:

  • Nerves and self-doubt can derail a great performance. Figure skaters train for years and on a daily basis for just minutes on the ice. Unfortunately, even the best training is futile when a skater encounters nerves that prevent them from performing to their best ability. I liken this to the hours of studying necessary to succeed on a three hour law school exam. If one succumbs to self-doubt on test day, then those hours of studying will not be reflected on the exam. It is necessary to believe in your abilities.

Read more »

Print Friendly



Half-a-Lawyer

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Public
Leave a Comment »

When I left my last exam of the fall semester, one of my classmates commented that we were now halfway to becoming lawyers. This comment made me reflect on my experience in law school and think about what it means to be half-a-lawyer.

I describe my law school experience as tough but worthwhile. The first semester of classes were a whirlwind of inquiry, excitement, and worry. However, upon reflection, I know I have truly benefitted from learning in an environment with so many intelligent people. There is always a person to bounce ideas off of and a person to learn from. It is great to be challenged as it encourages me to strive to do my best work. Read more »

Print Friendly



A Defense of Law School Education

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Public
2 Comments »

School of LawTwo weeks ago, the New York Times published an article entitled “A Steep Slide in Law School Enrollment Accelerates.” One of the major premises for the article was that prospective graduate school students have increasingly found law school not to be an attractive option anymore. According to the article, students likened their relationship to their schools as a business contract. The article was supported by ABA employment figures that showed that less than two-thirds of law school graduates found jobs that required passing the bar exam. I found the article and its premises unfair. The article, hardly the first to do so, equated law school success to finding long-term employment as a lawyer.

Grading a law school education based on bar-exam-required employment is unfairly simplistic. The breadth of interesting employment opportunities available to law school graduates is incredible. Read more »

Print Friendly



The Wisdom of King Theodoric

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Legal History, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public, Speakers at Marquette
2 Comments »

theodoricYesterday I was honored to speak at the mid-year graduation ceremony at Eckstein Hall.  Twenty three graduating students and hundreds of friends and family came together with Dean Kearney, faculty and administrators to celebrate the event.  What follows are my prepared remarks.

Dean, fellow faculty, invited guests, and most importantly, December graduates.  I am honored to be with you on such a momentous day.

Class of 2014, today is the day that you thought would never come.  Today is the day that you embark on your legal careers.  Even in normal times, the transition from law school to practice can be an anxiety-inducing event.  But these are not normal times.

The practice of law has been undergoing significant change in recent years.  Venerable old law firms, with names over a century old, are disappearing, through merger and bankruptcy.  It seems that lawyers are better known for their television commercials than for their legal arguments.  And the basic day to day legal work that law firms have traditionally relied upon to meet their overhead is now being outsourced offshore to cheaper lawyers in New Delhi and Manila.

I doubt that someone of my generation can even understand the challenges that you will face in your future careers, much less presume to offer you any advice on how to meet those challenges.

Let me give you some idea of how the practice of law has changed over the last quarter of a century.  When I graduated from law school in 1988, I went to work at a large law firm (at a job that I expected to have for my entire career).  I wrote briefs in longhand on yellow legal pads, and gave the sheets to a secretarial pool for typing.  And if I wanted to do any online legal research, I had to go to the firm’s sole designated Lexis terminal, which was located in the law firm library and which was hardwired via phone line straight into Lexis headquarters (because there was no such thing as the internet). Read more »

Print Friendly