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March 10, 2014

Snapshot of an Almost JD: Nathan Morales

Get to know current Lewis & Clark Law Students through JD Candidate Halah Ilias’s blog posts on her classmates.

“Nathan is an excellent negotiator.  Not joking.  This year, Nathan won the ABA National Negotiation Competition.  His win should tell you a lot about his ability to think creatively, work with others amicably, and solve disputes.  I admire Nathan for his confident, yet humble demeanor.”


Halah asked Nathan the following questions.  Here are his answers:

What’s your educational background?

I have an A.A. in Liberal Arts and Political Science from Santiago Canyon College, and a BA in Political Science from UCLA. My parents gave me a Master’s degree in respect for others, and everything else I learned from my own mistakes.

What about your family background?

I grew up in Orange, California. My father works in construction management, and my mother runs the office at the church they attend. I have one younger brother who works in financing, and a younger sister currently attempting to hurdle the CPA process.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

While at UCLA, I took a course on U.S. National Security. At the time, my professor directed a study group organized by the National Academy of Sciences to address the implications of climate change. I ended up getting involved in research about the national security implications of climate change. One of the expected effects of climate change is major disruption in the allocation of freshwater resources. This introduced me to the idea of drinking water as a commodity with associated property rights. I became interested in learning more about this concept, and decided that law school would provide me with the necessary education.

What is your favorite part about Lewis & Clark?

Sitting at one of the tables by the windows in Wood Hall, reading until my eyes go bloodshot, and then when I think that I just can’t possibly continue, looking out into Tryon and realizing I’ve never had it so good.

What is your least favorite part about Lewis & Clark?

Federal Income Tax.

What are your future job and career goals?

Well, now isn’t that the fifty million dollar question? At this point, I am not really limiting myself in terms of what I want to do after law school. I know that I am not interested in returning to California, and would really like to practice in Oregon. Regarding the particular area of practice, I am not necessarily committing to any one area. Although water rights remain close to my heart, I have also had the opportunity to work in a number of other types of law, such as employment, traditional labor, land use, disability, etc. In doing so, I learned that I can achieve happiness in my legal career through a variety of options and practice areas.

What do you think prospective students should know about law school?

Networking really does matter, but for reasons other than just getting you a job. One thing that law school does not teach you is the sales and branding aspect of being an attorney. Unless you work for a government agency, you will not have a captured client base. Networking begins the process of showing the world what type of person you are, and what type of attorney you will be. The “world” includes prospective employers and clients. An attorney I spoke with told me that most of his clients have come from referrals by classmates in law school. Therefore, think about how you treat people all the time. I have also been told that every city has at least one jerk attorney … don’t be that one.

What is an interesting part about your background?  Or in other words, how do you contribute to the diversity of Lewis & Clark?

None of my friends that I grew up with have ever graduated from a university. Needless to say, I don’t know anyone from my old neighborhood that has gone to law school. Where I grew up, kids still talk about being a lawyer on the same level as being president. This has instilled in me a unique appreciation regarding the law school experience. Currently, the media reports nothing but negative information about the state of legal education, especially the fact that law schools admit way too many students. While I do not discount these realities, I also do not discount the fact that most people who once thought about attending law school, never will. As law school students, we are a fortunate minority, and should recognize ourselves as such. So, acknowledge that you are lucky to be here, and have a good time getting through it. When all is said and done, I just want to be able to go back to where I came from and tell the next kid that it’s worth it.


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