Nikki Kuklo (1E), May 2023

I am entering my second semester of law school in the part-time program… Who would have thought that would happen for me?! I am 30 years old and have been a horse trainer since I was 10 years old, or at least that was when my mom put a receipt book in my hand and taught me how to start charging my client. So, one might say that my experience so far has been a complete and utter culture shock. I was filled with so much doubt regarding my ability to integrate into this wholly new way of thinking and doing things.

One thing you learn early in training horses is that horses need constant care and diligence. There is never a day off because, at a minimum, horses need to be fed and watered. This holds true for law school as well. As Professor Telfeyan reminded my GLS I class frequently, daily diligence is key.

The law school experience has shown me that consistency and persistence in your studies is crucial. You have to tame your mind to be a little less wild each day. You have to have patience on the days when you feel like you have not retained a single thing, reward yourself on the days you have pushed – despite feeling like you do not belong –  and do a little dance when everything starts to click. Feeling my mind transformation has been a startling and liberating experience.

Unlike training horses though, I am not alone in my work. I get to be a part of the amazing part-time cohort. There is a real camaraderie in the part-time class. Everyone has schedules that often appear like blackout dates for the airlines. So, they come prepared; they know exactly why they came to law school, and they are here to get everything out of a class that they can. They challenge you to be at the top of your game and they expect you to meet them at their level in group work. So you do. And as you improve, they cheer for your correct answers in the face of the scary professors and they console you when you take a chance and it goes poorly.

At times, scheduling is the hardest part of law school for a part-time student, not the content. There were many Thursday evenings, after Criminal Law was over and we had completed our Skills Lab Study Group at 9:30 pm, that I would sit staring at the list of assignments I had compiled throughout the week. I keep that list in one notebook and I have a physical calendar that lays the week out by the hour. It starts at 7 am and ends at 8:45 pm.

Any law student will tell you, there are not enough hours in that day. I have to plan out each hour, including everything from work and free time to exercise and family obligations. You may not get to everything on your calendar, every time – I know I have failed occasionally. Note the missed material and evaluate your schedule accordingly. What you put into law school is what you get out of it. This applies to making connections with your cohort as well.

I have not had the opportunity to meet any of my cohort in person yet. Anyone who started law school in the fall of 2020 is experiencing something no other incoming 1L group has ever faced: Zoom classes. The professors find engaging ways to keep our attention and deliver the material, even though most of us are in the comfort of our own homes. As one of my fellow cohort members said, “the academic rigor has survived despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.”

Still, one cannot help but feel a sense of disconnect and isolation from time to time. Personally, I have noticed that I worry about jumping into a discussion without being able to read the room because I am concerned I will talk over a point being made by a fellow classmate. I also experience some insecurity when an answer is not received well and I cannot immediately see that the rest of the class is feeling my pain right alongside me.

Fortunately, we are adapting. The part-time cohort has set up group discussions so we can support one another and make sure everyone has as much information as possible. We have Slack channels, small group texts for assigned group work, a text chain with our entire cohort, and a Facebook page. None of this is a substitute for meeting up in person, but we are connecting as we can. It feels a lot less lonely when someone reaches out to remind you there is an assignment due, showing they care about their fellow classmates.

To sum it all up, the experience thus far has been terrifying and exhilarating, exhausting and fulfilling, painful and transformative. There is nowhere I would rather be than in the part-time programs with dedicated students at McGeorge School of Law. I cannot wait to meet them in person as we continue our journey.

Source: Equal Justice Works

Are you interested in a career in public interest law? Have you considered becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow? EJW is currently accepting applications for two summer fellowships:

  • Rural Summer Legal Corps (due February 8, 2021): Partnering with Legal Services Corporation (LSC), Equal Justice Works provides law students with an opportunity to serve rural communities by providing direct legal services such as affordable housing and farmworkers’ rights, engaging in community outreach and education, and supporting resource development and training sessions. The fellowship will take place over the course of eight to ten weeks.
  • Disaster Resilience Program (due February 16, 2021): As a Student Fellow, accepted applicants will provide free civil legal assistance to disaster-prone areas, such as Texas and Florida. Student Fellows will assist an Equal Justice Works Fellow in improving disaster preparedness and recovery from natural disasters, as well as things such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

All 1L and 2L students are encouraged to apply to these exciting opportunities, where you will gain invaluable experience and strengthen your legal network. Learn more about the available fellowships here, and be sure to have your resume reviewed by the CDO by emailing us at lawcareers@pacific.edu. For those interested in working with non-profit and government agencies, be sure to also attend the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair this October, the largest public interest career fair and interview program in the country. More information will be released later this year.

Lawyers come from all walks of life. For some, the law is in their blood – their father was a lawyer, their mother was a judge, their grandfather was a police sergeant, etc. For others, the life of a lawyer became the ultimate goal after witnessing injustices in their community and wanting to make a change for the greater good. Some lawyers may have been drawn by the intricacies of law and the precision required to become a top-tier litigator, and yet more may have simply grown tired of their previous career and were searching for a new challenge. Whatever the case may be, the unique experiences and backgrounds that are brought to law school can be used to become a better and more effective lawyer, regardless of how far from law they may first appear.

James “Jamie” Holland

For example, see this recent article from ABA Journal about TV-star-turned-lawyer, James “Jamie” Holland. He’s used common practices from his acting career to become a more effective trial lawyer – things like telling a story to the audience (i.e. jurors) rather than just the dry facts, rehearsing and recording his arguments to critically analyze any instances where he appears uncertain or hesitant, analyzing whether or not his body language and vocal cadence are conveying the same confidence in his argument that he feels, and more. He shared several tips on how to become a more convincing lawyer, which any trial lawyer can use to their benefit.

Check out the article above and see how you can implement some of his tips to improve your trial advocacy skills.

Kelli Sanshey, 2L (Class of 2022)

The McGeorge Alternative Summer Advantage Program (“McGeorge ASAP”) is a self-directed volunteer summer legal research project created by alum Lexi Purich Howard and Asst. Dean of Career Development Molly Stafford in response to COVID-19.  The program matched McGeorge students who lost summer opportunities due to the pandemic with local attorneys for guidance on a research project on the topic of the student’s choosing.  This week’s ASAP paper was authored by Kelli Sanshey (2L, 2022) under the mentorship of Khoa Ngo, an attorney for the California Department of Health Care Services. This paper was written during the summer of 2020 and prior to the passage of Assembly Bill 5; however, Ms. Sanshey’s insights on the issues remain pertinent and will inform how we watch these court cases as they move forward.

“Assembly Bill No. 5 (“AB 5”), signed into law by California governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, 2019, adds Section 2750.3 to the CA Labor Code. AB5 clarifies the legal designation of an employee or independent contractor, codifying the California Supreme Court Decision Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. Dynamex implemented a three-pronged test, also known as the “ABC” test, which presumes that workers are employees unless they are exempt, or the employer can demonstrate that:
(1) the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;
(2) the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
(3) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

A number of private companies, including Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates, and Instacart, have responded to AB5 by placing Proposition 22 on the ballot for the November 2020 election. Popular initiatives allow California voters to overturn a law passed by the California government, or to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling…”

 

Read the full paper here.

Matt Urban, 2L; Class of 2022.

The McGeorge Alternative Summer Advantage Program (“McGeorge ASAP”) is a self-directed volunteer summer legal research project created by alum Lexi Purich Howard and Asst. Dean of Career Development Molly Stafford in response to COVID-19.  The program matched McGeorge students who lost summer opportunities due to the pandemic with local attorneys for guidance on a research project on the topic of the student’s choosing.  This week’s ASAP paper was authored by Matt Urban (2L, 2022) under the mentorship of Sosan Madanat (’14), Director at Lighthouse Public Affairs.

 

“In the mid-twentieth century, public and private institutions excluded minority populations from homeownership and residence through discriminatory mortgage-lending practices. Using a color-coded scheme to assess risk, federal housing programs refused to insure loans of Black urban applicants that were available to White suburban applicants. This government-endorsed discrimination—known as “redlining”—perpetuated racial segregation through homeownership, an important means of wealth accumulation in the United States. COVID-19’s disparate impact on communities of color further exposes the systemic inequities perpetuated by redlining and other prejudicial policies. Although the Supreme Court ruled redlining unconstitutional shortly after Congress banned housing discrimination as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the practice continues to shape the options for neighborhood residents over a half-century later.

In 2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a rule requiring municipalities receiving grants from the federal agency to take proactive steps to “affirmatively further fair housing.” Under the administration of President Donald Trump, the rule was suspended in January 2018 and ultimately rescinded in July 2020. However, California passed AB 686 in 2018, which calls on cities and counties to report housing inequities within their communities beginning in 2021. California’s fair housing law preserves a platform for municipalities to address their communities’ systemic disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis, including access to healthcare, employment, and technology…”

 

Read the full article here.

As you may know, the California Supreme Court recently approved New Rule 9.49, which implements a Provisional Licensure Program for 2020 law school graduates (including December 2019 graduates) in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. In short, this rule allows for certain law graduates to apply for a provisional license to practice law until June 1, 2022. A link to the State Bar’s Provisionally Licensed Lawyers information page is here.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

  • Anyone who became eligible to sit for the California Bar Exam between December 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020.
  • You do not need to have sat for or passed the California Bar Exam to apply.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO APPLY?

  • You must have submitted a complete Application for Determination of Moral Character to the State Bar (that has not resulted in an adverse determination of moral character by the State Bar) and otherwise meet the requirements for admission.
  • You will need to submit a signed declaration agreeing that you will be subject to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court of California and the State Bar.
  • You will need to submit a signed declaration from your supervising lawyer.
  • You do not need to have taken a bar exam before applying.
  • The fee is $75, or $55 if the employer paying the fee is a qualified legal services project or support center and receives State Bar Legal Services Trust Fund grants. There is NO fee for applicants whose sole use of the Provisional License will be in an unpaid volunteer capacity under the direction of the Supervising Lawyer.


HOW WILL I APPLY?

  • You will be able to apply through the California State Bar’s application portal, which will be available on November 17, 2020.


WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROVISIONAL LICENSURE PROGRAM?

Some of the main requirements are as follows:

  • Complete the State Bar New Attorney Training program by the end of the first 12 months of your provisional licensure. (If you have not passed the MPRE, you will need to take four hours of legal ethics training included in the 10-hour New Attorney Training within the first month of provisional licensure, or within the first month of the training’s availability.)
  • Maintain employment under the supervision of a licensed lawyer.
  • Clearly disclose to clients and the public that you are a “provisionally licensed lawyer.”
  • Include on every document that you file in court or with any other tribunal the following information about the Supervising Lawyer: name, mailing address, telephone number, and State Bar number.
  • As a provisionally licensed attorney, you will have multiple opportunities to sit for and pass the California Bar Exam, so failure to pass any bar exam prior to June 1, 2022 does not end provisional licensure.

Please let contact us if you have any questions about this program.

Adrienne Black, 2L (Class of 2022).

The McGeorge Alternative Summer Advantage Program (“McGeorge ASAP”) is a self-directed volunteer summer legal research project created by alum Lexi Purich Howard and Asst. Dean of Career Development Molly Stafford in response to COVID-19.  The program matched McGeorge students who lost summer opportunities due to the pandemic with local attorneys for guidance on a research project on the topic of the student’s choosing.  This week’s ASAP paper was authored by Adrienne Black (2L, 2022) under the mentorship of Ashley Harvey, an attorney at the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

 

“Recidivism among felony offenders fuels the overcrowding of the United States prison system, while reducing public safety and subjecting the public to the threat of repeat offenders. The United States has overly relied on incarceration while abandoning efforts to reform criminogenic behaviors, resulting in historically high recidivism rates. In 1994, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (“BJS”) examined a total of 272,111 inmates released that year, including their criminal histories and the financial impacts of their arrests. Of those former inmates, 78% had been incarcerated for a non-violent crime, and 67% former inmates had committed at least one serious new crime within three years of their release. The 272,111 inmates had accrued more than $4.1 million in arrest charges before their current imprisonment, and acquired an additional $744,000 arrest charges in the three years following their discharge; they had also averaged about 18 criminal arrest charges per offender during their criminal career. As BJS’s study illustrates, the marginal benefit of incarceration for the purposes of crime control only restricts an offender’s ability to commit further crimes during his/her period of confinement, yet is ineffective in changing criminal behavior.


The discussion that follows is structured into sections that break down the issues of prison reform, rehabilitation, and recidivism. Section I examines incarceration rates, specific to California. Section II recognizes the importance of California implementing rehabilitation programs, specifically addressing the economic impact the programs serve, the correlation between correctional education and reoffending, and addressing an individual’s “criminogenic needs.” Section III highlights three key principles that the Legislative Analyst’s Office (“LAO”) has determined would maximize recidivism reduction. Section IV further narrows the scope of this discussion and identifies rehabilitation programs offered within the Northern Region of California. Section V illustrates the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs through an individual’s personal experience.
… “

Read the full article here.

You’ve made it into law school and are now wading through each semester. The question you face now is, what will you do next? It’s ok to be unsure of what kind of career path you should pursue. You’re certainly not alone – many 2L and 3L students (and even some practicing attorneys) have yet to figure it out. It’s important to not limit yourself to particular career paths due to preconceived notions of what types of tasks and responsibilities the various professions entail. Unless you’ve been lucky enough to work or intern in several different types of offices, agencies, and practice areas before even setting foot in law school, you shouldn’t eliminate potential opportunities from your choices based just on what you may have heard or read elsewhere. It’s another classic situation where you don’t know what you don’t know.

To help you plan your career path, consider these 10 questions about your practice goals and values. Give some time to really analyze why you’re here and where you want to ultimately be. If you are still feeling overwhelmed by the endless choices before you, make an appointment with a CDO advisor to relieve some of the stress and help develop a career plan.

FBI Seal
Source: https://www.fbi.gov/history/seal-motto

Figuring out what career you want to pursue can be one of the most difficult decisions you make during law school. There are myriad options available to JD, MSL, MPP, and MPA graduates; so how do you choose the right career path for you? How do you know that you’ll truly enjoy the profession you choose to pursue without having any firsthand experience? If you’re the type of person that wants to use your legal expertise to protect the American people, perhaps you’ll find your calling at the FBI.

 

Special Agent Justin Lee is a 2004 McGeorge alum currently working in Cyber Squad at the FBI Sacramento Field Office, and has been with the Bureau since 2005. While the mission of the FBI (“To protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States”) is enough to make anyone proud of the work they do, Lee also notes that his career has had very positive impacts on his personal  life, too. Not only did he meet his wife on the job (while they both worked in the FBI San Francisco Field Office), but he also has time to do things that he is passionate about outside of work – such as coaching soccer, basketball and baseball for his kids, acting as a Cub Scout den leader, and being able to take time off to visit his family’s favorite vacation spot in Hawaii. As much as the FBI values hard work and a commitment to justice, it also promotes a healthy work-life balance for all employees.

 

Agent Lee admitted that although he had never considered joining the FBI prior to enrolling in law school, the excitement of the job – coupled with encouragement from his supervisor (former FBI Special Agent and current Sacramento County Superior Court judge, Hon. Delbert Oros) during an internship with the Sacramento County DA’s Office – drew him in nonetheless. “Being an FBI Agent is very rewarding and every day is different… Everyone in the FBI works hard to keep our nation safe and to become part of something bigger than themselves,” he explained. With a JD nearly in his grasp in 2003, Agent Lee knew that he could employ his legal knowledge outside of the traditional lawyering career path.

 

Having a JD doesn’t limit your career opportunities to practicing law in a courtroom or tracking billable hours. Taking legal concepts from the classroom and applying them to how the criminal justice system operates opens the door to hundreds of other law-related careers. When examining a job applicant’s qualifications, the FBI gives more weight to the individual’s alignment with the Bureau’s defined Core Competencies than to a specific academic experience – such as particular externships or legal courses. In fact, Agent Lee says that even within cyber investigations it’s not necessary to have a technical background because much of the investigative techniques used by law enforcement work well in both cyber and non-cyber cases. His legal education has provided him “a solid background and the skills to incorporate better logic and analysis into [his] writing… [as well as] presentation and oral advocacy skills”, which lends itself to more efficient collaborations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and construction of affidavits. A combination of life experience, legal knowledge, and an advanced degree (whether it’s a JD, MPA, MPP, or MSL) can put you on the short list of qualified applicants for most entry-level FBI positions.

 

If you think your goals and drive align with the FBI, we encourage you to visit their online job board and explore the opportunities available. Lee recommends all interested applicants apply as soon as possible due to the extensive background check and testing required before entering the FBI Academy, noting from his own experience that it was “nearly two years between the time [he] applied and when [he] stepped foot into the FBI Academy”. Be sure to review the FBI’s eligibility requirements to ensure you meet the minimum standards, as well as the Special Agent Selection Process.

 

Once you’ve identified positions that fit your interests, don’t forget to schedule an appointment with a CDO career advisor to review your application materials by emailing lawcareers@pacific.edu.