Professional Development News
Jennifer Siewertsen, 2L, shares her experience as the 2010 Ellen B. Ewing Fellow.
As a first year law student the law seemed like an intangible idea, an abstract thought presented in casebooks and lectures. The cases and the discussions have names and titles, but not faces or stories. For someone propelled into law with a background in social justice and advocacy, this pursuit of a faceless justice left a lot to be desired. I never imagined that in ten short weeks, my purpose and interest in the law would be renewed and redirected towards family law.
As the 2010 Ellen Ewing Fellow I was thrust headfirst into Legal Aid’s Family Law Unit. Working with a small and dedicated group of people, I worked with a variety of complex family and legal issues. I immediately began meeting clients and sifting through cases. What I found wasn’t a question presented or an issue, but individual people struggling to find safety for themselves and their children from domestic abuse. What may have been another day at the office for me was often a life-changing moment in the life of a client.
I spent the summer doing many of the same duties as any other law clerk, researching, writing, and observing in court. However, what I got out of the experience was wholly unique. The opportunity to interact with clients on a personal level and see legal issues through a human lens has given me a renewed sense of purpose for this upcoming school year. Though my time spent with the Legal Aid Society as the Ellen Ewing fellow was brief, the impact of that experience will be life-long.
Ms. Siewertsen is a native of Louisville, Kentucky and a 2008 Graduate of Centre College with a Bachelor’s in Religion as well as Government. She's active on the 2010 National Moot Court Team and the Moot Court Board as well as a candidate for membership in the Journal of Law and Education. She was a runner-up in the 2010 First Year Appellate Advocacy Competition (pictured above).
Jennifer and her classmate, Alex White, will emcee Lawalapalooza on September 30 at Phoenix Hill Tavern.
Five students from the Central High School Law & Government Magnet competed at the Marshall-Brennan National Civil Liberties Moot Court Competition in Philadelphia on March 20-21, 2010. Keylandance Carpenter, Tevin Payne, Barbie Parker, Corey Thomas and Gabriel Vaughn represented Central and achieved incredible success in the tournament.
Both Barbie Parker and Gabe Vaughn, reached the semi-final round of the competition, which placed each of them among the 16 most outstanding competitors in the entire nation on the side of the case they argued. Teams came from all over the country, representing Marshall-Brennan programs from Washington, D.C., to Phoenix, and from Boston to Baton Rouge. Parker’s semi-final round performance left her just barely short of qualifying for the national finals, which would have placed her among the top four students in the entire competition.
The team was coached by Brandeis School of Law students Noelle Rao and Duffy Trager, who accompanied the team to Philadelphia. Both were third-year students who taught at Central in the Marshall-Brennan program this year as part of the Brandeis School of Law’s Signature Partnership with Central, working with Joe Gutmann, the Law & Government program’s long-time teacher. Noelle and Duffy were joined in Philadelphia by law school professor and Marshall-Brennan faculty supervisor Sam Marcosson, who also helped coach the students as they prepared for the competition.
“Barbie and Gabe’s performances in particular were terrific,” Marcosson said. “They proved that our Central students can compete with the very best students from around the country. And all five students worked hard to prepare, and impressed the judges with their knowledge of the law, the facts of the cases, and ability to deal with tough questions. They did a great job, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
On May 25, 2010, members of the law school community gathered at Central High School's library to celebrate the accomplishments of the Central High School Law Magnet Program. Professor Laura Rothstein, with the assistance of Jina Scinta and Principal Dan Withers, conducted the ceremony.
Renowned portrait artist, Robert Shetterly unveiled reproductions of two paintings from his Americans Who Speak the Truth Collection. He shared quotes from both Justice Louis D. Brandeis and Representative John Lewis during his discussion about the essential principles of a democracy.
Following his remarks, Joe Gutmann, Central High School Law and Government Magnet Coordinator, presented awards to the program's outstanding students. Professor Sam Marcosson and Noelle Rao, '10 both received awards and standing ovations from the participants. Mary Jo Gleason, Coordinator of the Junior Writing Skills Program, Scott Furkin, Executive Director of the Louisville Bar Association, and Emily Zahn, '08 were also recognized for their contributions.
“They might even be better,” says Urbach, who will submit the new statistics in March. “But we still have some really terrific candidates from the May 2009 class who are without adequate employment. These graduates would be employed easily in any other economy.”
The law profession is not immune to tough economic times, she says, and the job of lawyer is by no means “recession proof.” So how has the law school maintained these strong placement numbers in such a challenging job market?
“For one thing, the large law firms have been most affected by the recession,” Urbach says. “They have cut back on hiring. But 53 percent of our graduates get jobs at firms with one to 10 lawyers. These firms have been less affected for the most part.”
Especially as the diversity of its student body has increased, the law school has recognized the need to connect students
with employment opportunities in diverse legal areas, geographic regions and workplace settings. Graduates in 2008 were employed in 14 states and three countries. Practice areas included private practice (58 percent), business and industry (12 percent), government (16 percent), federal judicial clerkships (1 percent), state judicial clerkships (6 percent) public interest (3 percent) and academic institutions (4 percent).
But the tighter job market has forced the school’s career services professionals to change the way they do things. For one, the school has been working harder in untapped Kentucky markets like Frankfort. Fort Knox is another focus as it continues to grow as military base realignments across the country consolidate more soldiers and support personnel to the area.
“It’s not that we have ignored these places in the past,” Urbach says. “We just haven’t made them a priority. Now our counselors are trying to develop a pipeline into these areas for students who want to practice law in Kentucky but are having trouble finding something in Louisville.”
Urbach says graduates also are accepting more part-time jobs and contract work—some working multiple jobs. She says UofL students are resilient and many have accepted positions that are not ideal as a way to maintain and improve skill, but keep them competitive for when the economy picks up.
Also, the law school is looking constantly at ways to create opportunities for legal professionals in emerging areas like green initiatives/technologies, stimulus money and the retirement of baby boomers, Urbach says. In December, she accompanied law school dean Jim Chen to Washington, D.C., to meet with several representatives of federal agencies as well as UofL law graduates working in the D.C. area.
“Again, the idea was to create a pipeline for our students,” Urbach says. “It was a productive trip.”
But Urbach always comes back to the students when discussing the reasons for the law school maintaining its strong placement percentages during tough times. “We have terrific, hard-working students. I like to call them entrepreneurial.
“And they are also well trained. Because we are a small school, our students receive individual attention. In addition to being expert educators, our faculty takes a sincere interest in every student.”
Urbach adds that the law school’s mandatory public service program gives students opportunities to have real-world experiences early in their law school careers.
“This and the character and work ethic of our students makes them excellent candidates in any job market,” she says. “I am really proud of how they have risen to the challenges of these challenging times.”Source: UofL Magazine (Winter 2010, p. 39)
Check out the new and improved list of websites on the Career Services portion of the law school website. Follow "Current Students", "Job Banks" and "Websites". You can also go to: www.law.louisville.edu/careers/Job_Search
This is a work in progress. Please provide feedback on the format, which websites are useful/not useful, websites that should be added, additional categories, etc. Thanks.
On October 24th and 25th a group of ten students from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law attended the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington, DC. Ten students, seven third-years and three second-years ventured to the nation’s capital in order to explore Public Interest opportunities. This was the first time that any of our students attended.
Assistant Dean for Career Services/Public Service, Kathy Urbach, got the ball rolling in September and encouraged students who were interested in attending the conference to meet with her to have their resume reviewed. There was also an application process to be completed.
Funding for travel and lodging came from two sources. Some of the money used was from the Career Services budget in lieu of other travel expenses. Victor Revill, Student Bar Association President, obtained funds from University of Louisville’s Student Government Association. One student even used frequent flyer points to get to the conference.
A meeting was held prior to the conference to provide information about what students could expect, how they should approach the employers at Table Talk, networking, workshops and other related topics. Also, students outlined plans of action which gave fellow students ideas of how to assist one another.
Some of the students had specific goals. Jessica Kingley, a third-year student, knew that she wanted to meet with the New York District County Attorney’s Office as well as Public Service people from New York City and turn it into a job. Guion Johnstone, a second-year student, attended with four actual interviews scheduled. Rexena Napier and Melissa McHendrix, both third-year students and both interested in animal law, knew that there wouldn’t be any employers dedicated to solely animal law, but viewed the conference as a way to learn about other related opportunities. Victor Revill, a third-year student and president of the SBA, knew ahead of time that his approximately “five minute introduction speech” needed to be well-rehearsed and fine tuned for each prospective employer.
All of the students were committed to public service work prior to attending the conference. Jamie Izlar, a second-year student, worked in a public interest position before attending law school. Her work involved working with indigent, undocumented immigrants. Colleen Hagan, a third-year student said that the rewarding part of going to such a big conference with so many attendees is that the students all are like-minded and want to be part of a greater good. Students felt encouraged to see so many employers who focus on public service.
Besides the career fair and Table Talk sessions, students attended workshops, sessions, discussions and had the privilege of hearing Ralph Nader speak. Samantha Thomas, a second-year student, attended a government workshop which supplied her with tips (call specific government agencies, keep applying and find a niche). Jamie Izlar attended a resume building session which she found extremely helpful and also attended several discussions where she learned which employers will pay for law school student loans. Rexena Napier attended a workshop that gave her a lot of ideas including applying for grants.
All of the students who attended felt it was worthwhile to attend and felt a deeper sense of commitment to public service. Duffy Trager came away with connections and a lot of business cards that he intends to follow up with. Samantha Thomas plans to capitalize on what she observed at the conference and use it to shape what she does in law school. Melissa McHendrix said that the most worthwhile aspect of the conference for her was meeting other students and discussing what organizations are non-profit and in the public sector.
The three second-year students are looking forward to returning to the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair next year. This is a great experience for our students and an opportunity for them to represent the law school. The University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law would like for all students interested in attending the conference in 2010 to have the opportunity to do so.
~Debra Reh, Program Assistant for the Office of Career Services
- A companion article by Beth Haendiges will appear in the December 2009 edition of the LBA's Bar Briefs.
- Photo Gallery
- Public Interest Law Blog
Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the 5th Annual Battle of the Bands! Nearly $4500 was raised for the Judge Ellen B. Ewing Fund.
Congratulations to third-year students Andrew Henson and Forrest Kuhn! Assault with a Deadly Weapon is the first student band ever to win first place in the Lawlapalooza Battle of the Bands. They were followed by 100% Legal in second place and Keltricity in third.
Many thanks to our silent auction bidders! Bekah Soule won a night's accommodation at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. Will Nefzger won a night's accommodation at the Seelbach Hilton. Becky Wenning won the original Guitar Player painting by Schuyler Olt and Vicki Senior won his Trumpet Player painting.
You won't want to miss this year's Battle of the Bands. Assualt with a Deadly Weapon, featuring 3Ls Andrew Henson on guitar and Forrest Kuhn on the drums, will be back to deliver another rockin' performance.
Students may purchase tickets for just $5 at the door (with a student ID) or at the Law Resource Center in room 272. Remember to bring both your student ID and your official ID if you wish to drink. Correction: This is NOT an all-ages event, but UofL Law students under 21 are welcome to attend. Children and teens, however are not.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Westlaw, the first 100 students will receive a ticket worth $3.25 (the price of a domestic bottled beer), which may also be used toward the purchase of a more expensive drink. Food and an assortment of potables and nonalcoholic beverages will also be available for purchase.
Lawlapalooza takes place at Phoenix Hill Tavern on Thursday, October 1. Doors open at 6 PM.