What made you decide to pursue a law degree?
I always wanted to attend law school. My mother is an attorney. Growing up, she would constantly correct my grammar, insist that words are spelled correctly, and encourage me to learn how to write in “proper English.” I learned to really enjoy written school assignments, and liked debating. In college, I was on a team that traveled to other universities to debate ethical issues; it was called the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. The legal work I have done since the beginning of law school has been influenced by all of these life experiences. I really enjoy the practice of law because I am always learning new things. For example, I never knew anything about “source-of-income discrimination” prior to this summer. One day, I had to research the topic, and I learned quite a bit. Each new block of learned material goes into my memory for the next case, and I build on my current knowledge with each case. There are always new logical twists and turns in the law; it is endless.
Why did you decide to attend the University of Iowa?
I applied to Iowa through a fee-waiver program for veteran applicants. I made a mistake and initially failed to include my personal statement in my application. The Admissions Office caught this and sent me an email asking if I was still interested. I forwarded my statement immediately, and in April received an acceptance letter. I received other admission offers, but when I visited the law school, I really liked it and Iowa City. I sat in on a Constitutional Law I class with Professor Pettys and spoke with a few 1Ls, which helped me make the decision. The final consideration came down to the cost of attendance. A 3L student explained that nearly every student gets a research assistant job during their 2L and 3L years, which allows them to get in-state tuition. When compared to the cost of some of the private schools, even with the partial scholarships they were offering, Iowa was a better value.
You were a summer associate at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Commercial Division this year. What did you work on?
A lot of litigation materials relating to bankruptcy, property tax, and human rights law. I wrote a summary judgment motion, a motion to dismiss, and several memoranda. I did quite a bit of legal research, both for the documents that I prepared, and for attorneys in our office on projects that I was not involved in other than to assist with quick research. I attended court hearings and settlement discussions and assisted with discovery requests.
You were inside the U.S. Supreme Court the day the Justices made a ruling on the health care reform law. How did you get your ticket to the Supreme Court?
After taking the last train to Union Station, I got in line just after midnight to try to get a ticket for the day. All of the Supreme Court’s proceedings are open to the public, typically for about 50 people, on a first-come, first-served basis. I was number 39 in line, so I received a ticket with the first group of 50.
Tell us about your experience that day.
By the time the Court began its session, I was tired from being in line all night long. I saw two members of Congress in the courtroom, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Senator Orrin Hatch. I also saw retired Associate Justice Stevens in the hallway after the Court adjourned. When I left the courthouse, the sidewalk was lined with people who were protesting and celebrating the decision.
What area of law would you like to practice?
I like litigation. I have worked on criminal, civil, and administrative cases, so I am not too picky. As long as there are rights to be asserted, I will do the research, help form the strategy, and write. That is what I enjoy doing, and I look forward to this kind of career. At this point, my goals involve further honing my skills on real cases, and learning the skills of our profession so that I can become a good lawyer.