Law grads look forward to 'next step' in life

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Graduating from law school is no simple feat. For many students participating in commencement ceremonies this spring, leaving the law school halls with degrees in-hand will mark one of their greatest accomplishments thus far. While it’s an exciting time, new challenges abound.

Landing a job

The transition from law school to the real world is a little easier when you’ve got a job lined up.

Luke Fields, of Brownsburg, Ind., is graduating from Indiana University Maurer School of Law and will soon begin working for a large law firm in Washington, D.C.

graduating-15col.jpg Service dogs trained through the Indiana Canine Assistance Network visited Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law to provide stress relief to law students in the midst of final exams. Students Jen Rosser, left, and Kelsey Keller enjoy a moment with Gracie. (Photo submitted)

“That was my goal coming in,” Fields said, adding that he sees scholastic success and participation in on-campus interviews as keys to landing a good job.

For Kate Flood, of Indianapolis, obtaining summer employment seemed a little too easy. The Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law student watched for job opportunities through the Office of Professional Development’s online career center and saw a posting by a solo practitioner in need of help at a family law practice. She sent a résumé, interviewed and was hired for the summer, with the possibility of staying on after passing the bar. Flood will be working on family law issues including dissolution, child support and child custody matters.

“This is where I want to start,” she said. “I just realized the other day that I went to school to be a lawyer, and I am going to be one. That’s pretty cool.”

School programs prepare students

Many law students rely on what they have learned in law school to ease the transition from student to practicing lawyer.

katherine flood Flood

Valparaiso University Law School Dean Jay Conison said the law school tries to help make the transition process smoother for students through mentoring programs, bar preparation courses and encouraging interaction between students and alumni.

“There is a pretty strong culture among our faculty of addressing students’ needs in knowing what is involved in transition,” he said, adding students also have opportunities to participate in externships and clinics where they gain practical hands-on experience.

Kasie Gorosh, of West Bloomfield, Mich., immersed herself in student activities and involvement at Maurer School of Law and began preparing for the transition from law school to a legal career from day one. She will sit for the Michigan bar exam and clerk for a judge in late summer.

mercedes rodriguez Rodriguez

Mercedes Rodriguez, of Indianapolis, who is graduating from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, also took advantage of the law school’s in-house and community programs to hone the skills needed to practice law. Rodriguez enjoyed working for the law school’s immigration clinic, which receives referrals from The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic in Indianapolis.

“I have grown a lot as an individual during these years,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I have become a much more outgoing person than I used to be, and a lot more assertive than I used to be.”

Family matters

With graduation and searching for, or starting, a new job comes the often-discussed challenge of work-life balance. Embarking on a legal career means considering relocating and making other choices that may influence a new lawyer’s professional and personal life.


maurice scott Scott

Maurice Scott, from Brunswick, Ga., is graduating from Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He doesn’t have a summer job lined up yet, but he is optimistic and does have some promising lunch meetings scheduled. He hopes to work in some sort of administrative capacity.

After sitting for the Indiana bar exam, Scott has another life-changing event scheduled – he’s getting married in August.

Scott is excited about the approaching nuptials, but admitted it is hard to concentrate on wedding planning while also job hunting and preparing for the bar.

Some grads are packing their bags and saying goodbye. Fields, who has lived in Indiana his whole life, said that one of the main challenges he faces is leaving home.

“This is a wonderful place to have been raised,” Fields said. “Indiana will always be home.”

The big test

Bar exam preparation is of utmost importance to law school grads. Some students turn to outside organizations to get ready for the big test. Rodriguez has signed up for a bar review course through BarBri; Scott will be reviewing for the Indiana bar exam in live morning sessions with the help of the IndyBar Review, the official bar exam review course of the Indianapolis Bar Association.

“There is something special about the bar exam that I have never encountered in another test,” said Fields, who will sit for the Indiana bar this summer. “It all boils down to one exam. It’s a daunting thing because it is such a critical part of entering the profession.”

For Flood, it’s all about time management.

“I’m not sure how to balance studying for the bar and working,” she admitted. But she added she is happy to be able to earn money and experience this summer.

“I didn’t want to have to take out a bar loan, those are like desperation loans,” Flood said of the loans available to those studying for the bar, which generally carry much higher interest rates than government student loans.

Financial matters

Student loan concerns, for many new grads, remain on the back burner for now. Some take comfort in the fact that student loans can be deferred for several months after graduation and that there are repayment options.

Scott has student loans to repay, but he isn’t letting that get to him. Before going to law school, he read the autobiography of United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He took some comfort in the fact that Thomas didn’t finish paying off his own student loans until 1990, although he graduated from law school in the 1970s.

Student loans are not Fields’ main concern right now, either. They were a necessary element of earning a law degree and, at this stage in the game, are viewed as one part of the professional degree process.

“The debt I have taken on to get a law degree absolutely will be an investment worth every dollar,” he said.

The great unknown

Fear of the unknown, for many graduating students, is what concerns them most.

“I am excited to graduate, I just don’t like the uncertainty of not knowing what’s next,” Rodriguez said.

Although she doesn’t know what the immediate future holds, Rodriguez has a clear picture of what type of law she’d like to practice.

“I am looking in the areas I am interested in working, which are immigration law or working in a nonprofit setting,” she said. “I also would be interested in criminal law, and so I’ve been sending out materials but have had limited success.”

While Fields said he is happy with his law school education and the opportunities he has been afforded, he acknowledged that entering the legal field today has challenges.

“I think it has been a fascinating time to be a law student,” Fields said. “A lot of things are in shift in the national economy and the law has not been exempt from that.”

Scott continues to job hunt. For him, it’s about remaining optimistic.

“I wouldn’t change a thing. I enjoyed law school. It was stressful – a lot of sleepless nights. I’m excited to have the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned,” Scott said. “I came to law school to help people. I get to get out there and, I hate to sound cliché, change the world.”•


Terrie Henderson-Stockton is a 3L at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and graduates in 2012.


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.