January 02, 2013
My name is Noel Kaleikalaunuoka’oia’i’o Soma and I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Growing up in Hawai’i I was exposed to a vast array of issues facing Hawaiian people, inspiring me to want to be part of the needed change. Before coming to law school at Lewis & Clark, I was at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona finishing my bachelor’s degrees in Applied Indigenous Studies and Political Science.
While at NAU, I participated in a variety of Native community outreach and learning activities, growing stronger in my desire to serve not only Hawaiian people but also all the Indigenous people of the world.
My hope is to use my law school degree in Federal Indian Law to help Indigenous communities in their ventures to retain their culture and create relationships with the world around them so that they can ensure a bright tomorrow for all the generations to come.
Top 3 Activities in Law School that’s most important:
(1) AEP: The Academic Enhancement Program run my JB Kim has had the biggest impact on my law school career thus far. The program starts in the summer and you are apart of it for the rest of your time at Lewis and Clark. From it I have gained; study and outlining skills, connections with upper division students, exam skills, and most importantly a family away from home. The friends and relationships I have made through AEP are incredible. Whatever obstacles law school or life throws my way, my AEP brothers and sisters are always there to give me a hand, whether it’s a pep talk or class notes.
(3) Intermural Basketball
Favorite Class in Law School:
My favorite class that I have taken at Lewis & Clark thus far probably has to be contracts. The practicality of contracts makes it understandable and because contracts centers around relationships, I find them extremely interesting and important. We all make promises, whether we are 3 or 93. Contracts asks; Are these promises legally enforceable? And if they are should they be enforced following with the protected interest of society?
Meaningful Experience Outside the Classroom:
Our Legal Writing T.A. had a small get together for our class and Professor Drummonds, my Torts professor, during the beginning of our first semester. I spent the majority of the night talking with Professor Drummonds about my life goals and desire to serve people. He was so supportive and told me that I had leadership qualities, which I should use toward maybe working in politics one day. Motivation from your professors about life outside of the classroom adds so much to your experience at law school and for me, reminds me why I am here.
What made me decide to go to law school:
Law school has been something I have wanted to do since I was young. My Papa told me to become a lawyer when I was little and my own desire to do so came during my junior and senior year of undergrad. I wasn’t feeling challenged anymore, and I needed more from my education. I knew I needed to have more skills if I really wanted to make a difference in Indigenous communities. Law school offers you a set of skills that I believe you can cater to whatever you want to do. Because of the flexibility that law provides and the challenges that accompany learning it and applying it, I knew it was the right thing for me to do.
Why did I choose Lewis & Clark?
I actually had no idea what Lewis & Clark was before my fiancé told me. Coming from Hawai’i, my first qualification when choosing where I want to be for a couple of years is whether there are mountains or ocean. Lewis & Clark is in the center of a forest and is surrounded by mountains and rivers. After that qualification was met, I knew that I wanted to be able to take classes in Federal Indian Law and Environmental Law. Lewis & Clark offers both of these areas of study and just happens to be one of the top Environmental Law schools in the nation. I know that I am getting a quality education while being a part of supportive student and faculty community.
Advice for admits deciding which school to attend:
One bit of advice that I would give students making their final law school choice would be to know who they are and what kind of environment they need to have in order to succeed. Law school is challenging enough as it is, so why not choose an environment that you feel comfortable and yourself in? If you take the time to look at what you want out of law school and what you need to do well and succeed in your own way, it will do wonders for you.
The hardest thing adjusting to law school:
I think the hardest thing about adjusting to law school is not knowing if what you are doing to prepare for class and the final is actually productive. There is no one right way to do these things and because there is so many choices as to how to go about doing them you spend most of your time trying to figure out what process to use. This is a crucial part of law school that you will use as your foundation, so work hard to study the processes used by successful law school students and figure out what works best for you.
Top 10 list for Portland/Oregon:
The Old Pancake House
Maple Bacon Bar – Voodoo Donuts
Spirit of Portland Dinner Cruise
Stay positive, stay organized, and remember the reason you got into law school was because of who YOU are so stay true to yourself and use law school to grow into an even better you!