Official Magazine of the Denver Bar Association

Law Student Chronicles: The Halfway Point

Angie-Borkowski-Ty-Nagamatsu-and-Claire-Noone-volunteering-at-the-courthouse-for-adoption-day

 

Greetings Docket Readers! I am one final and two papers away from being halfway through law school. I can hardly believe it’s true, but an entire year has passed since my first Docket article. Some days, I am surprised that a whole year has passed, and other days, I can’t believe it’s only been a year—so much has happened in such a short time. I’m sure you know that “whirlwind” feeling.

In addition to successfully completing my first year of law school, I watched Sloane, my (now) toddler, take her first steps and say her first words. (If you read my first column, her first word was “cat, ” not “memo”—phew!). These days, Sloane spends less time at the law school and more time around the corner with her friends at Fisher Early Learning Center, but as you can see from the pictures, she still gets her share of law school love once a month at Third Thursdays.

Sloane-and-another-law-student-(Claire-Noone)-at-Third-Thursday

I spent the summer externing with a group of brilliant and wonderfully passionate people at the Arapahoe County Office of the Public Defender. Three days a week, I researched and wrote about the constitutionality of searches and seizures; attended docket; interviewed clients at the Arapahoe County Jail; and observed all of the different phases of a criminal trial, including jury selection, cross-examination, closing and opening arguments, jury instructions and sentencing.

If your first year of law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer, then your first summer externship teaches you how to talk and walk like a lawyer.

This fall, I enrolled in and am now nearly done with a terrific line-up of classes, including comparative law, a live client class, and a critical race theory seminar. The live client class took me to Washington, D.C., and next semester, will take me to the Supreme Court of Canada and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The class has been an incredible, hands-on experience, and a unique opportunity to see how complex litigation works.

My other two courses were intellectually restorative. As someone who came to law school after observing and experiencing systemic injustice both within the U.S. and outside of it, I was starved for context and policy after the first-year doctrinal curriculum. Comparative Law and Critical Race Theory provided just that.

In Critical Race Theory, our class explored the criminal justice system and how it intersects with race and class. My summer at the public defender’s office provided a helpful background for class discussion. Interestingly enough, there were many aspiring public defenders in the course, which might suggest that those who have spent time closest to the criminal justice system are the individuals most troubled by it.

In Comparative Law, I completed a class presentation and final paper on asylum law. Prior to my research, this was a topic about which I knew virtually nothing—even though some of my closest and most motivating friendships have been with asylum seekers.

After my research, I am very interested in pursuing a career in immigration law—so interested that in January, I will start working for the Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network (RMIAN).

In the wake of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, I anticipate that there will be much work to do!

This month, I also participated in two wonderful learning experiences—the Chief Justice Commission Open Courts Colorado at the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center and Adoption Day at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. Hosted by Chief Justice Nancy Rice, Open Courts was a unique and inspiring opportunity for law students to watch the Colorado Supreme Court in action.

At Adoption Day, I volunteered along with six other DU law students to help facilitate adoptions. In our volunteer capacity, we greeted new parents and children, pinned boutonnieres, passed out donuts and coffee, assisted judges, and listened to a moving speech by Chief Justice Rice on her own experience as an adoptive parent.

And that—in addition to some great lunch lectures, a smattering of workshops, an inspiring public interest law conference, and thousands of diaper changes—is what the last year has looked like for Sloane and me. It has been a whirlwind, and it has been wonderful!

 

Ty-NagamatsuBy Ty Nagamatsu, a 2L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Nagamatsu, a native New Englander, graduated in 2008 from Gordon College with a degree in political science. Before coming to Denver, she served with AmeriCorps for two years in Minnesota.

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