My father, John Van Lieshout, got his J.D. from Marquette University Law School in 1981. He currently practices law at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren here in Milwaukee. Since it’s been thirty-eight years since he walked these hallowed halls as a student, I interviewed him to get the scoop on what law school was like for him. I knew that there would be differences big and small, but I am happy to report that just as he reports feeling great affection for law both in its nature and because of the connections he made, I feel like coming to Marquette was one of the best choices of my life. I hope you enjoy his fond recollections of his time at MULS, whether you are a current student or a former one, and if you are a member of the graduating class of 1981, please feel free to reach out!
“The law school used to be six or seven classrooms and a hallway, to put it simply. You saw everyone in that hallway. At that time, there were more women than men, and most of the women did not come directly from undergrad. Many of them had been teachers before deciding to study law. We had contracts, torts, and property both semester one and two. We kept the same sections and the same professors through both semesters, which made the transition much easier. Unlike at Eckstein Hall, our lockers were two feet long and two feet deep; they basically only fit textbooks. There was not room for a winter coat or boots.
As a current .5L, I’ve discovered that law school has a sister: swimming. While it may not turn your hair green or get you ripped abs, law school involves a lot of the same principles that swimming does: hard work, discipline, and patience. I believe I am qualified to make this comparison because I earned my time in the pool. I swam competitively for fifteen years. Around middle school, my coach decided to put my awkwardly long limbs to use as a backstroker.
For those who don’t know, backstroke is the loneliest stroke. Your practices and races consist of staring at the ceiling, listening to yourself breathe, and praying for the pain to be over. You can’t tell where you are compared to others in the race. You have to memorize the distance between the flags near the end of the pool and the wall to know when you must “flip-turn,” or do that little somersault to change direction. If you miscalculate, you risk missing the wall entirely to stop dead in the water. I recognized this “dead in the water” feeling during my first cold call, in which I temporarily left my body from fright and forgot every detail of the case I’d read. Luckily, years of being in this situation had taught me that the only thing you can do is keep going, so I basically read out of the textbook and wrote myself a note on my bathroom mirror to do better next time. You will mess up. What matters is that you keep on going.