Ever since I could remember I have wanted to work in the entertainment industry. I have always been fascinated by the process that occurs behind the scenes in order to take a concept from an artistic idea in someone’s head to an actual product that people around the world can enjoy.
As the oldest sibling from a home in which neither parent attended college, and neither was active in a workplace community, I was constantly searching for professional mentors. As an early undergraduate student, I remember hearing one of our college administrators speak at an on-campus workshop. This woman was well-spoken, confident, and knowledgeable in her field. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to be like her.” After the workshop concluded, I introduced myself and asked if I could set up a meeting with her. I wanted her help on drafting my resume, as well as practice my interviewing skills. She enthusiastically agreed.
A reminder for all of us fortunate enough to have work to do.
Continue to be grateful for the work. It will always be your safe harbor against the heartbreaks and sorrows of this life. Keep in mind that you do it not so much for your own sake but on behalf of the countless people and constituencies, most still nameless and unknown to you, who nonetheless are waiting for you to use your emerging expertise to make their lives better. And you will.
My last semester of college I was fortunate enough to be able to Intern in the White House under President Obama. I worked for the Office of Presidential Personnel, which researched and selected the nearly 4,000 presidentially appointed positions. Unsurprisingly, this was a life changing experience for me. I worked with some of the most hardworking, intelligent people I have ever met. Additionally, Interns were given the opportunity to meet and hear from Senior White House officials including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.
These are uncertain times for the promise of equal access to justice for all. Particularly now, it is important that we the lawyers show up to do what we can do: wield our unique expertise to be instigators, catalysts and defenders of the rule of law, the power of reason and the promise of mercy.
Although everyone is aware of the benefits of clerking for a federal judge, too many students overlook the tremendous opportunity of being a clerk in the New Jersey state courts. First, the opportunities for a judicial clerkship are plentiful, with over 400 trial and appellate Superior Court judges in New Jersey compared to just 35 federal district court and magistrate judges in New Jersey.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to lecture at a law school in Jérémie, Haiti. Seton Hall Law has a special partnership with this school in Haiti. One of Haiti’s ongoing problems is that its legal system, particularly at the local level, often functions poorly because of lack of resources and corruption. As the law school in Jérémie began to produce graduates who attained positions as judges and local political leaders, the situation in that city, though still very difficult, began to improve. Good lawyers, trained to live out core values of justice and respect for the rule of law, support good communities.
I share this story because it shows the unique value of a law school invested in giving back to its community.
As a first year law student, the thought of one final exam determining 100% of my grade was daunting and I wanted to make sure I was prepared for what was to come. When I started law school, I asked many second and third year law students about their studying strategies. I noticed that study groups were pretty common, but decided that they were not for me and that was the best choice I ever made.
When I walked into the Juvenile Justice Clinic at the start of the spring semester, I was excited for a change in my learning experience as a law student. I had grown accustomed to the classroom experience and was anticipating gaining an understanding of the judicial process from a hands-on perspective. To me, participating in the Juvenile Justice Clinic and working with the Public Defender’s Unit was an opportunity to learn the administrative processes of not just the courtroom but how each judge prefers to run their respective courts.
My participation in the Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic was by far my most memorable experience in law school. Professor Farrin Anello assigned my partner and I to a time-sensitive case. The client was a young woman who recently fled Guatemala and had entered the United States without a visa. After being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, she was sent to Delaney Hall Detention Center right here in Newark, where she was being held when we met her. Her bond hearing was rapidly approaching, and Catholic Charities brought her case to the attention of the Center for Social Justice. After reviewing the documents from our client’s initial interview with an asylum officer, we believed that she had a strong domestic violence-based asylum claim.