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School of Law | Graduates Reflect on Law School Experiences

Graduates Reflect on Law School Experiences

The School of Law's Class of 2010 comprises 144 students. The majority of the class will celebrate graduation during a commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8, at 10 a.m., at the UD Arena. A reception for the graduates, family and friends will follow at the law school.

Three members of the Class of 2010 recently reflected on their experiences at the School of Law, the lessons they learned as students and how their time here helped prepared them for the future.

Kellie Clark, who was born in Northern Ireland and then moved to Carmel, Indiana, when she was 2, was chief justice of the Moot Court Board, a staff writer on the Law Review, treasurer of the Intellectual Property Law Society and on the board for the Volunteer Student Law Project.

Ella McCown, who is from South Point, Ohio, in Lawrence County, volunteered as a teaching assistant for Professor Maria Crist during the fall 2009 and is graduating under the School's two-year program. She is the Grand Marshal for the 2010 the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, recognized as the nation's longest continuous running Memorial Day Parade, since 1868.

Mark Thompson is from Dayton and was a staff writer and then a comment editor on the Law Review.

What are your plans after graduation?
Kellie Clark: I will be moving to Charleston, West Virginia, to work for the corporate defense firm Jackson Kelly. I will likely be working in some area of litigation.

Ella McCown: I plan to continue teaching accounting and business courses at Ohio University Southern Campus after graduation. And I plan to study for the Ohio bar exam.

Mark Thompson: I graduated in December 2009 and had received a job offer from Gallagher Sharp, a litigation firm in Cleveland with about 60 attorneys, in September 2009. I took the bar in February, moved to Cleveland and began work in March.

What do you look forward to most as you begin your law career?
Kellie Clark: Finally getting a paycheck for all of my hard work! In addition, I am really excited to return to Jackson Kelly, which was very supportive during my internship there, and to have the opportunity to practice in my area of interest. I feel really fortunate.

Ella McCown: I look forward most to finding opportunities that allow me to use my legal education to serve the people from my hometown area. But most of all, I look forward to getting back to my home and my grandchildren.

Mark Thompson: I'm looking forward to the challenges of practicing law and the options that are available to me with a law degree. Right now, I'm in a private firm, and I can stay there, move into the public sector, open my own practice or use my law degree for something besides practicing. It's exciting to know that I have those choices if I don't like what I'm doing.

What lesson learned at UDSL stands out to you as most valuable as you graduate?
Kellie Clark: Probably my research and writing experience. I think the focus on research and writing and the excellent professors I was fortunate enough to have teaching me these skills will truly be of value to me in my career.

Ella McCown: The lesson I learned at UDSL that stands out as most valuable to me is the incredible care and concern that was shown to me by my classmates, the faculty and administration. In addition to the legal education, I gained valuable experience from observing the incredible professionalism of the faculty at UDSL.

Mark Thompson: A lesson I learned while at UDSL was that, despite hard work and a dedication to getting what you want, there are still factors in getting through school and entering the profession that are simply beyond your control. As a result, while I think having a goal as to what you want to accomplish when you enter school is essential, being flexible with that goal is also important. Otherwise, there may be a good opportunity that passes you up because it didn't fit precisely with what you envisioned.

What non-classroom experience at UDSL stands out to you?
Kellie Clark: My experience in Moot Court has really been an enjoyable one. Competing in our competition last year was an incredible experience and then being able to serve as the chief justice of the Moot Court Board has also been invaluable.

Ella McCown: The greatest non-classroom experience at UDSL that stands out to me was May 16, 2008. This was just a few days after the 2008 summer starts began; it was also the one-year anniversary of when my dear husband passed away. The law school had a luncheon planned for the new summer starters, and while I had planned to attend, I was not able to. I will always remember how that day hit me; it was much harder than I ever could have anticipated (and stronger than I could ever put into words). I remember thinking that I was not going to be able to get through the day and really questioning what I was doing at UDSL; and then how Professor Blake Watson stopped in the atrium to patiently encourage me, Dean Lori Shaw's sincere kindness, and the summer 2008 students giving me never-ending words of care and encouragement.

Mark Thompson: The friends that I made stand out as something as valuable as anything I learned in the classroom. They're the only other people who understand exactly what you're going through when you're in school and when you're studying for the bar.

Did law school at UDSL meet your expectations? How?
Kellie Clark: It did. I was amazed by how open and available my professors were. They served as a great resource and support system for me throughout school.

Ella McCown: Law school at UDSL exceeded my expectations. I came to law school by extraordinary circumstances. After losing my dear husband to a long-fought battle against leukemia, I found myself trying to figure out how I was going to keep myself busy. I thought that keeping busy would help me to survive. And it did.

Mark Thompson: One aspect that exceeded my expectations was the professors. Many of them were exceptional in their knowledge and their ability to engage the class in the discussion, which is something I had not expected coming into school.

What advice would you give to incoming 1Ls?
Kellie Clark: I would tell incoming 1Ls to really utilize their professors. They are so willing to talk and answer questions. Even though it may seem daunting at first, putting some time in to get to know your professors and going to them with questions can really serve you well.

Ella McCown: Keep healthy. Get rest (when you can). You're going to be busy!

Mark Thompson: I believe most students can determine their own level of success in law school. If you work hard, you'll get the grades. If you just want to get by, then your grades will reflect that. Don't be intimidated by people in class who talk about how much they are studying and how many supplements they've read. These students usually spend more time talking about how much they've studied than they actually spend studying.

Take time for yourself.

Be flexible with your job search when the time comes. The economic downturn has changed the employment landscape and nobody knows how long that will last. Don't commit to a region, type of law or salary as that will close what are at the current time already limited options.

Write your own outlines. Write your own outlines. Write your own outlines.


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