Panel offers advice to NIU law students

By Wendy Arquilla

Panelists at last week’s forum held at Swen Parson Hall said today’s law students have a tough road ahead.

The panel, titled “The Law School Experience: Before, During and After,” was presented Thursday night by the NIU Hispanic Law Student Association.

“Many students get down when the work gets hard and feel like giving up, but this panel is proof of how all the hard work can pay off,” said Maria del Carmen Rodriguez, public relations officer for the Hispanic Law Student Association and a second-year law student.

“Students have trouble adjusting to law school sometimes because it’s a whole new world in terms of the academic workload and types of students,” said Lenore Whitman, a second-year law student.

The panelists hammered home these points throughout the evening as well as many other pieces of information.

“Law students, especially in the first year, will feel like their school is trying to squeeze them out,” said David Delgado, a panelist and a newly elected circuit court judge. “In fact, a lot of the bigger law schools try to do just that.”

He said after adjusting to the difficulties during the first year of law school, the determination and discipline you learn from the experience will get a person through the next years of schooling.

Panelist Juan Soliz, a state legislator, pointed out that minority students must excel two to three times more than non-minorities to get recognition. “If you work hard and your heart is in the right place, you will win in the end,” he said.

“A law student must learn the law culture that exists at law schools because at these schools there is a different language and environment that goes along with the education,” said panelist and NIU Law Professor Guadalupe Luna.

Panelist Judge Keith Brown said he entered the law profession not for the more common reasons of wealth and power. “I decided to become a judge not for the money aspect, but to promote equality and integrity in my county,” he said.

“Through the law profession, I wanted to give back to the community, but being a public defender you learn the hard realities of the profession that law school can not teach you,” said panelist Ramon Ocasio, an attorney from the Attorney General’s office.

Panelist and attorney James Rosas said obtaining computer skills is highly recommended to those going in the law profession. “Law students will spend a lot of time studying because no matter what law school you go to the competition will be fierce,” he said.