Rianka Macwan

The Portland legal community, especially with the different diverse affinity groups, is tight-knit.

Rianka Macwan JD ?24

Degree and Class Year

JD ’24

Program Type

3-year (full time)

Hometown

Naperville, Illinois

Undergraduate/Graduate School(s)

Iowa State University

Areas of legal interest(s)

Environmental and Wildlife Law

Brief Background

I worked as a doctor’s assistant at a vet clinic and as a zookeeper! I absolutely loved what I did, and I miss spending all day everyday around amazing animals … though law school students are pretty close. ;)

List up to three activities (school-related or not) that you are involved in. Why are they most important to you?

I was involved with SALSA (South Asian Law Student Association) and SIEL (Students for International Environmental Law). I’ve been in the middle of a personal identity cultural crisis, and being around other South Asian law students was really nice and helped reaffirm my sense of self. The Portland legal community, especially with the different diverse affinity groups, is tight-knit. One of my favorite experiences was going to a happy hour where I met a federal magistrate judge, one of the city commissioners, and a ninth circuit judge!

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

My teacher’s pet answer is Lawyering. I bonded with my professor both professionally and personally. I felt like I could go to her about hard things happening in my life and also in the classroom. Lawyering is also “the class” that will form the one real skill you’ll need from law school. And it wasn’t graded, soooo … Otherwise, I loved Torts, even though every other case is about a boat or a train. It really just highlighted the absolute wildness of people, as well as the law.

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

This was kind of in the classroom, but I had a very emotional reaction to a case I read and I immediately burst into tears after class talking to the professor. She was so understanding and offered to meet with me to go over the class again and helped me digest the materials. I also really enjoyed oral argument. The judges were difficult, but being in the courthouse made me feel confident and professional. And I had a great partner to go against, so my nerves went away once I knew it was someone I liked!

What made you decide to go to law school?

I chose to go to law school because I visited a law school while I was in undergrad for a week and seemed to comprehend it better than the students did so I figured I would do okay. Years later, I met a public defender who I could absolutely not believe had their job, so why not go to law school?? But my personal motivation was that I saw legal gaps as a zookeeper (like maybe don’t just let every other Texan own a tiger, only to have to give them up when they get too big??) and knew that a lot of lawyers don’t come from the fields they’re trying to influence.

Why did you choose to attend Lewis & Clark?

I chose L&C because I wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest after having lived in many other parts of the U.S., and I wanted to be around like-minded individuals that also wanted to help animals. I know I’ll eventually ruffle some feathers with some of my opinions about animals and how laws should be shaped, but I’m okay with that!

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

Go where you want to go. Don’t chase clout in the name of a school, go somewhere you feel safe. You’ll get a JD whether you come here or Harvard, but the student body and an understanding staff will make all the difference in the world. Feeling like you can be honest about your mental health or personal struggles will do you a world of good. And try to talk to current students, their insight will be super helpful.

What was the hardest thing about adjusting to law school?

Reading nonstop and never feeling like I was done studying.

Center for Animal Law Studies Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law