March 20, 2019
Six Lessons from Southwestern’s Spring Semester Events
Southwestern’s Admissions Office recently hosted three unique programs highlighting Southwestern’s commitment to diversity in all aspects of legal education, thirteen alumni working in myriad practice areas, and the steps you can take now to start your own career. Check out this list of six important take-aways.
1. Turn the tables on doubting yourself
Rosio Flores, ‘18 - Diversity Day 2019
Southwestern alumnus Rosio Flores addressed the audience at Diversity Day to assure them that any doubts they have about their ability to go to law school or practice law can be overcome. She said, yes, believe in yourself, but also put in the work to achieve your dreams.
Sharing her own story of pursuing a legal education while working and supporting her daughter, she demonstrated how discipline and dedication helped her land a position at Sheppard Mullin and how her example has allowed her to inspire her community and her family to aim high. By working hard, she learned she could perform well as an attorney and ultimately turn her doubts into confidence.
2. The work you do in law school matters
Clinical students - Diversity Day 2019
Students representing a variety of Southwestern’s clinical programs discussed the significant roles they have played in assisting clients facing very real, life-altering legal problems. Though these experiences helped the students build legal advocacy skills, each student emphasized that the most meaningful outcome of their work was the benefit they were able to provide their clients. The expression of relief on the face of a mother fleeing violence with her children, and the prospect of freedom and opportunity for a man incarcerated for decades for an offense committed when he was a minor, stood out to the clinical students. They told the audience that these moments are what keep you going when law school is challenging.
3. “Rerouting” is normal, and you will make it to your destination
Attorney panelists, Succeeding in Law 2019
Twelve Southwestern alumni shared their stories with prospective students at Succeeding in Law 2019, and nearly all of them emphasized that the path through your legal career will take many twists and turns, but that this isn’t cause for concern. Mitch Tarighati of the Iranian-American Bar Association, Los Angeles, likened this experience to using a GPS: if you take a detour, or veer off course, the GPS won’t shut off - it will simply say “rerouting” and your destination will still be the same. Once you decide to become an attorney, plug that destination into your GPS, set off on your journey, and don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t go as expected. This is perfectly normal, and can lead to surprising discoveries!
4. Lawyer = Attorney = Counselor
Sona Tatiyants, ’05 - Succeeding in Law 2019
When you practice law, you can have many names. We mostly hear “lawyer” or “attorney,” but what about “counselor?” Southwestern alumnus Sona Tatiyants founded her own estate planning law practice to help families and loved ones navigate complicated legal rules and plan for the future. At Succeeding in Law, she shared how her work revealed to her what it means to be a counselor. By taking care of the most sensitive aspects of people’s lives - not just in estate planning, but in many fields of law - lawyers act as counselors, providing advice and guidance to their clients. This requires not only sharp legal skills, but also interpersonal skills, understanding, and awareness.
5. Your reasons for pursuing law will motivate you throughout your career
Stella Pogosyan, ’11 - Succeeding in Law 2019
Southwestern alumnus Stella Pogosyan works as an attorney in the Orange County Alternate Public Defender’s Office. The audience at Succeeding in Law had no doubt that she is passionate about her job as she spoke enthusiastically about the trials she has done and the doors that opened for her due to her participation in Southwestern’s Trial Advocacy Honors program while in law school. But she did address that her job is sobering - many aspects of defense work are extremely challenging and raise tough questions that she must regularly grapple with. She reminded the audience, though, that each of them has important reasons for pursuing law. She reflects on her own reasons as a way to remind herself why she does this work, and she encouraged the audience for keeping in mind the “why” whenever they find themselves questioning their path.
6. Getting into law school is just the beginning
Dean Gear, Mock Admissions Committee Workshop
At the final prospective student event for the Fall 2019 admissions cycle, Dean Lisa M. Gear walked the audience through a real law school application. Participants shared what they liked and didn’t like about the sample application, but the biggest takeaway was that a student’s law school application sets the stage for the rest of their legal career. The admissions committee uses the application to predict whether someone will be a successful student, but once in school, law students must act on those positive qualities they shared in their applications. Whether it’s through being open to challenge, taking on real legal work as a student, learning how to counsel, or reflecting daily on your reasons for wanting to engage with the law, you should use your application as a starting point. At Southwestern, your own personal qualities and motivations, combined with the support and opportunities offered by the school, can get you to your destination.