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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. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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