November 18, 2010
Just prior to law school I worked for a local government agency in a job that was a broad mix: I supported a government database program, taught classes on its use, designed and built websites for the agency as a whole, and designed and taught curricula for other software applications. Prior to that I had been a web developer and graphic designer most of my adult life mostly in the newspaper industry. I’ve always had a deep interest in politics and the law, however, and this was a lifelong goal and dream that was long overdue in getting accomplished. At last, I’m here and it’s unfolding.
What I do outside of classes:
I’m a volunteer for Cascade Aids Project, usually providing graphic design services for free. Because the scourge of HIV has not yet been eradicated, it’s a public health issue that affects everyone. But as a gay man who came of age in the late 80s, the memory of that time reminds me how critical it is to find a vaccine and ultimately a cure. Until then prevention is key.
I also do work for my union’s local chapter as their webmaster. Since leaving work to go to law school, I have maintained my position as webmaster to help facilitate communications with the union, its members, and the wider community. I am a firm believer that a healthy democracy and economy depend as much on worker’s rights & workplace democracy as it does on solid property rights.
My favorite class:
I have a hard time picking just one. I’d have to say Legal Writing and Torts are my two favorite classes at Lewis & Clark. Legal Writing is very different from writing prose, but it’s a great challenge and gives all of us a chance to learn how to craft a legal argument and see how the law connects and is interrelated in a practical, hands-on way. Torts is great simply because the cases are usually so outrageous and fun to read. Some of us call it “story time” because of the cases. Don’t get me wrong, it’s substantive law and a challenge. But the cases make it a whole lot of fun.
My most meaningful academic experience:
Equity sponsored me and a few other students to attend the OGALLA dinner in October. It was an eye-opening experience. I was not only able to meet upper division students, but discover how social and interrelated the legal community in Portland is. It made me feel like the legal community here really is a professional society of hard working, thoughtful people.
Why I chose to attend Lewis & Clark:
I toured approximately 25 law schools in my long journey to finally applying and attending. Lewis & Clark was one of the final schools I looked at. I came the first time on a weekend, unscheduled and unannounced. When asking for directions on campus, I ran into Professor Douglas Newell and a request for directions turned into a conversation. He spent nearly two hours talking to me, answering my questions, talking about the law and law school experience. After that meeting, I met with students in Boley Library and chatted briefly with a few. What I discovered was a unique law school experience. The staff appeared very supportive, the students were hard working but not excessively “type-A”. I chose Lewis & Clark because I knew that law school is hard enough. I wanted to study in a community of legal scholars, not a cutthroat world of one-upsmanship. Now that I’m in school here, it’s even better than I expected; best decision I’ve ever made.
My advice for students making their final law school choices:
Find a place that feels right for you and the kind of student that you know yourself to be. Lewis & Clark fit me, my study skills, and my desire for a community of fellow legal students. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not the right school for you. You’re here for at least three years. Choose wisely.
The hardest thing about adjusting to law school:
I definitely have to say learning how to manage the enormous workload is the biggest challenge. Each person finds their own way. It’s taken me three months to get a system down and I’m still learning. Thankfully, the faculty and upper division students are very helpful when a question arises about how to deal with problem x or difficulty y.