Law school students have a reputation for burying their heads in their books, so we offer this weekly series, “The ‘Anti-Social’ Life,” to illustrate that they can enjoy a life of leisure as well.
The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law encourages its students to gain hands-on experience by working directly with clients through public service projects in their very first year of the program. Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects (SLPS) allow students to find their own projects, which are run by second- and third-year students. SLPS are open to all students on a volunteer basis (not for course credit, though hours can be used toward the Pro Bono Pledge or for summer pro bono grants), and past projects have included assisting public school students facing expulsion, helping refugees seeking asylum in the United States, teaching tenants’ rights workshops, and conducting outreach at local shelters and health clinics. Currently, there are 29 active SLPS projects, with students working for such causes as the Foster Education Project, Juvenile Hall Outreach, and the Workers’ Rights Clinic.
Many JD applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a law school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor at a top law school. Today, we focus on Henry Weinstein from the University of California, Irvine, School of Law.
Henry Weinstein, who in 2008 joined the faculty of the University of California (UC), Irvine, School of Law—one of America’s newer law schools—approaches the law from an unusual perspective. Weinstein has written more than 3,000 stories for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, Weinstein holds a joint appointment in both literary journalism and law. When asked why he chose to become part of UC Irvine’s founding faculty, Weinstein enthused about the school’s public role and innovative approach: “I thought it was a great opportunity to play a role in shaping the first public law school to be opened in California in decades… I also welcome the opportunity to work at a school where the dean believes so strongly that there must be an emphasis on experiential and interdisciplinary learning—approaches that definitely were underemphasized when I was in law school.” In addition to teaching, Weinstein serves as a co-director of the school’s Center on Law, Equality and Race.
In this series, a jdMission Senior Consultant reviews real law school personal statements every week. What is working well? What is not? If it were his/her essay, what would she change? Find out! To sign up for your Free Personal Statement Review by a jdMission Senior Consultant, click here!!
Note: To maintain the integrity and authenticity of this project, we have not edited the personal statements, though any identifying names and details have been changed or removed. Any grammatical errors that appear in the essays belong to the candidates and illustrate of the importance of having someone (or multiple someones) proofread your work.
I got married to a man fifteen years my senior when I was twenty-years-old. We had two beautiful children within two years of our wedding. When my kids turned one and two respectively, I decided to remind my husband about an agreement we’d made when we first got engaged, just as he was leaving his first marriage, and I was leaving my first year of college—that after we found a groove in our lives together, I would go back to school.
He admitted that he liked the idea of having me home with the kids, but he agreed that if we found someone we both liked and trusted to help take care of them, I should do it. My deferral period from university was coming to a close. So I immediately began my search, subsequently meeting an endless parade of absolutely suitable prospects that just weren’t good enough for my babies. One thought my sister had placed in my head was, “Your kids can’t yet talk, so whomever you leave them with better be above suspicion.”
Of course, no one was. After weeks of searching, I debated pulling out of school. I could wait a few years until my children were older and could better indicate verbally if the babysitter was sneaking smoke breaks or serving them chocolate for lunch—or worse. Then my brother’s best friend mentioned that his kids’ beloved nanny was looking for a new placement. His twins were finally starting high school and her services no longer made sense for their family. My brother contacted me. And that’s how Lydia came into our lives.
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Becoming a lawyer is not the only path you can take after graduating from law school. Every Monday, we bring you the story of a former lawyer or law student who has taken an unusual or unique career path.
Some people leave the field of law and become famous; others leave it and become infamous, such as former Time Warner CEO Gerald M. Levin. Levin received his BA from Haverford College and his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He spent most of his career in various positions at Time Warner. In 2000, as CEO, he brokered the merger between Time Warner and AOL, which proved disastrous for Time Warner’s shareholders over the course of a few years. CNBC even named Levin one of the “Worst American CEOs of All Time.” Levin has experienced tragedy in his personal life as well. His son, a high school teacher in New York City, was brutally murdered by one of his students. Levin became a philanthropist, working tirelessly for many Jewish causes and also to help create the Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications in the Bronx. In addition, he currently serves as chairman or director at five companies.
Stanford Law School provides students numerous opportunities to study environmental law during their three years at the school. For one, the school’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program is a leader in education and research in environmental law. Students in this program learn through case studies, in-class simulations, and Stanford’s Environmental Law Clinic. Each semester, the clinic gives students the opportunity to conduct hands-on work and to litigate cases for such groups as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Ocean Conservancy. Outside the classroom, students may join the Environmental Law Society, which is the oldest student environmental law society in the nation. The group hosts speakers and conferences, organizes social activities, and works to encourage sustainability at the law school. Students can also work on the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, compiling and editing articles on environmental policy, law and economics, international environmental law, and other related topics.