Rianka Macwan

Rianka Macwan

Year & program in school: 1L day

Hometown, State, Country: Naperville, IL, USA

Undergraduate/Graduate Schools: Iowa State University, BS in Animal Science

Area of legal interest: Animal and Environmental law! Potentially some labor law too

Brief Background:

Before law school, I worked as a veterinary assistant and then as a zookeeper! I absolutely loved working with animals and some of my favorite moments in life were bonding with the ones I took care of. I also love traveling and for about 3 years, moved out of state every 4 months. I’m a very friendly, open person and I love making other people feel better and being an encouraging, smiling face around campus!

What activities are you involved in on campus?

South Asian Law Student Association (SALSA) 1L rep. I wanted to increase the visibility of brown faces on campus and the animal/environmental legal field. It has been warming to embrace my culture in a professional setting! Our events have been incredible for networking and spending quality time with others who can walk alongside me.

What is your favorite class that you’ve taken at Lewis & Clark and why?

I honestly loved Lawyering. I’m not a great writer and the class itself is about that, but my connection with Professor Patrick single handedly made my entire semester so much better.

Tell us about a meaningful academic experience that happened at Lewis & Clark, outside of the classroom.

I had a really hard time emotionally with a case, and after class, I sat outside of McCarty with the professor and cried. It was a relief to be able to just unload on someone who was understanding and didn’t get upset that I was not engaged in class.

What made you decide to go to law school?

Working in the animal industry opened up my eyes to how many large-scale changes need to happen to make the world a better, more sustainable place. I realized that not many people from their respective industries are adequately represented in the legal field. There’s a lot of theory floating around and not enough lawyers with practical experience. So I said someone needs to know both to help promote realistic policy changes and it might as well be me!

Why did you choose to attend Lewis & Clark?

I chose Lewis & Clark because I wanted to move to the PNW to become part of the green movement that will impact the rest of the states. Lewis & Clark has the #1 Animal Law program, it is in an absolutely beautiful location, and they have unconditional scholarships! I also wanted to go to a small school after being at a large, state school. I missed out on having a tight-knit academic community in undergrad, and everyone I talked to about Lewis & Clark confirmed that it is a great school, friendly campus, with staff and other students who really care about you! And I missed out on having mentors and was reassured that I would have plenty; that has definitely been true!

Do you have any bits of advice for students making their final law school choices?

It’s a huge decision. It’s not cheap, it’s not easy. Don’t go because you feel pressured, no one else is going to be paying your loans off except you! Go because you want to, not because you feel you must. Your mindset will help keep you afloat when you’re down and you should always prioritize yourself.

What was the hardest thing about adjusting to law school?

Going to school in a pandemic is difficult. We have been in person and it has been a lifesaver to talk to other students and struggle together. I miss not hanging out with friends all the time outside of class, whether it’s socially or academically.

I was a STEM major, so adjusting to not having graded homework, but instead reading copious amounts of material was difficult. My schedule and pace is my own, a skill that not everyone can manage easily.

Other stories, comments, experiences:

I said “sucks to suck” in my Legal Methods class and got a class-wide laugh! That was definitely not my most professional moment, but I lived.

I absolutely love getting lunch with other people and it was so easy to schedule them with TA’s or friends. Talking about life, struggles, what to focus on, how my anxiety impacted my journey. I felt way more understood and like I wasn’t the only one struggling.

I went to a comedy show with SALSA and it was a blast!!

I went mushrooming with ELC (Environmental Law Caucus) near Mount Hood. It was one of the most magical experiences; tramping through the forest with a professional mycologist, forgetting all about life’s worries and being so excited to find edible mushrooms that my best friend eventually cooked up for us!


Rianka Macwan, 1L Day
Naperville, IL, USA
Iowa State University, BS in Animal Science
Animal, Environmental Law, Labor Law