My name is Amanda Pham Haines and I came to law school after a series of what we shall call “finding myself” events. I started college at Wake Forest University in 2010 where I was a member of the Wake Debate Team. I completed my degree at Boise State University in 2018 attaining a BS in Political Science. I worked closely with the ACLU of Idaho on their 2017 Annual Report and volunteered as a guest speaker at the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) January meeting. I was the recipient of the 1st Place in the President’s Writing Awards at BSU for my research on the impact of stereotypes on Asian American women in academia and the workplace. I did all this, after failing out of Wake Forest in 2015, combatting alcoholism, and convincing myself I would never finish my degree or attain any sort of higher education success. I am happy to say that I was wrong, and I am scheduled to graduate from L&C Law in May of 2021!
Three Activities I’m Involved In:
- NAPALSA (National – APALSA) – I became President of this org in Nov. of 2018 when I started law school. It was integral to giving me the connection to my identity and community that I so badly needed. It also built confidence in my leadership abilities and gave me a national network of law students and attorneys to pull from.
- APALSA – OAPABA – this is kind of cheating because it is related to NAPALSA, but without OAPABA and APALSA at LC Law, I would not be the person or professional I am today. My attorney mentors through OAPABA are some of my best friends. APALSA comprises many of my closest friends in law school too. Also, being involved with APALSA allows me to connect and partner with other affinity groups on campus. It is so great to see the different and innovative ways that people come together
- Portland Urban Debate League!/SBA – SBA was so important because it connected me to the campus faculty, staff, and admin. I gained a better understanding of how things work at the school and got to be a voting member on a committee that made important decisions for the campus.
Favorite class at L&C:
Property with Professor Jones because of Professor Jones. He treated me like a human being and an adult. Weird to say that coming into law school was really infantilizing for me. The message I was getting was that I didn’t know anything and what I did know was wrong. So, my confidence was shaking. Starting spring semester with a professor asking us what our experience was like and giving us a space to vent was so important. He then explained sort of the history of law school and helped me understand what I was experiencing.
Meaningful academic experience:
This is loosely academic, but through my role as VP of Diversity & Inclusion I was able to give a talk on Navigating Microaggressions. After doing so, I was asked to weigh in a series of important social issues for bar organizations and campus organizations. Since I’m not an attorney, I was not answering anything legal, but more so answering how to communicate between generations.
Why law school?
After going back to school, I realized that all of the community and social impacts I wanted to make would be easier if I had a law degree. I also asked probably 50 people about law school and whether I asked them or not, they told me that they thought I either wouldn’t get in or wasn’t cut out for it. Most of the time these were close family friends or role models in the community. They believed I was super cut out for law school until they learned I dropped out and what my GPA was. After having so many people tell me I couldn’t go, I realized I really wanted to. I took to heart their criticisms and thought hard about how I could leverage the low GPA in my personal statement. I wanted the place I ended up going to school to know exactly who they were getting. So, I wrote the most personal-personal statement I could!
Why Lewis & Clark?
Collaboration and the interview! I applied to twenty schools because I did not think any would let me in. I knew all I needed was one, but I ended up getting into about half. The decision came down to LC Law and Georgia State Law. The latter was the most economic decision, but my heart pulled me towards the former. My interview took over an hour and was the most confidence building call I ever had. From start to finish, the interviewer told me how to sell myself and what stood out to them in my application. For the first time, someone positively identified the traits I like I about myself. She read my very honest personal statement and came out of it believing in me. That showed me that this was the right place for me to grow.
Advice on choosing law schools:
Do what makes sense to you. There are a lot of voices and a lot of people who may weigh into your decision but ultimately, you need to be confident in your choice. My first year of law school was a life changing experience. It was so difficult at times and challenged many aspects of my identity. Make sure that you are somewhere where you can build the support network you need. I moved away from family because I struggle with setting boundaries with them. I moved to a city where I did not have friends knowing that I would need to build a robust network.
Hardest thing in law school:
Knowing that you are changing and you don’t always know how until after.
My Top 5 Portland Eats:
- Conin Mexican on Barbur
- Afuri for Ramen
- Pho Hung for pho
- Departure for fancy views and cocktails/mocktails
I’m an open book! If you have students asking about things like alcoholism and law school, mental health support etc. and you want to connect them to a student, I’m here for you!
Amanda Pham Haines, 3L
Austin Tx/Boise Idaho
Wake Forest & Boise State
Children: Nope but I got an emotional support animal named Chance. He is a dog.
Public Interest Law, Civil Rights Litigation