Environmental and energy law program abuzz with activity

It’s no secret that Tulane Law’s environmental and energy track, as one of the school’s largest J.D. certificate programs, offers a robust array of academic opportunities. But it’s also an area that propels students outside the classroom and into the field, connecting with environmental and energy industry attorneys and professionals.

Through Tulane Law’s new ongoing partnership with Valero Energy Corporation and the law school’s award-winning Summit on Environmental Law and Policy, students get in-depth looks into key energy and environmental law issues – and into the overlap between these two powerful fields.

Energy law: Valero refinery visit

Andre Marquette, environmental engineering manager at Valero's St. Charles refinery, explains how the crude unit works before students step inside.

Andre Marquette, environmental engineering manager at Valero’s St. Charles refinery, explains how the crude unit works before students step inside.

At the forefront of Tulane’s expanding energy law program, Valero hosts Tulane Law students each semester for a day exploring refinery operations at the company’s Norco, Louisiana facility and learning about the role of legal counsel in a large, complex corporation.

Wanadi Molina Cardozo (LLM ’15) examines byproducts from the oil refining process.

Students begin the day with an introduction to the company’s refining processes and safety precautions, then are outfitted in fire-retardant suits, hard hats, safety goggles and air monitors before surveying the refinery with a team of engineers. They see key components of the facility’s daily operations, touring the control room, crude oil processing unit, molten sulfur recovery furnace (described by the engineers as “real fire and brimstone”) and bubbling vats of waste water being treated.

“Before attending the field trip to the Valero refinery, I was really interested in seeing how things worked on the ground at a refinery,” said Katherine Van Marter (L/MS ‘16), a Tulane Law and Payson Center student.

Students learn about the different refinery processes control room operators oversee.

The tour gives students a look into the refinery’s science and business processes so they can better understand its legal needs.

“The trip to the St. Charles Valero refinery was altogether a great experience that both introduced me to the oil refinery industry and provided me with a unique insight into the daily legal activities of a Fortune 500 company,” Albert Farr (L ’15) said.

After the tour, students meet with Valero’s in-house counsel, flown in from corporate headquarters in San Antonio, and outside counsel from New Orleans. The attorneys explain their efforts ensuring compliance with a complex host of regulations, including environmental, health and safety and even homeland security rules.

The attorneys also discuss the overlap of legal and social issues at Valero, highlighting the importance of fostering partnerships with each facility’s surrounding community. And they take on tough questions from students, addressing environmental and international issues confronting the oil and gas industry.

Tulane Law | Valero Trip

Enrique Rubio, Nathan Sarkas and Dennis Zhao (all LLM ’15) get outfitted in Valero’s safety gear.

Students said the discussion with corporate counsel shed light on the company’s policies and the attorneys’ roles in advising their client.

“I am definitely more interested in in-house practice as a result of touring the refinery,” said Bryan Kitz (L ’15). “The lawyers offered great feedback and perspective.”

“Working in house seems like a great position, and the influence and ability that their in-house counsel has had in shaping their policies makes the opportunity to ‘change
from within’ very attractive!” Van Marter said.

Environmental law: Summit on Environmental Law and Policy

Tulane Law | Environmental Law Summit

Maria Kalousi-Tatum (L ’16) and Amelia Carder (L ’17) run the summit’s registration table, checking in attorneys, academics and representatives from government, industry and nonprofits.

Back at Weinmann Hall, environmental law remains a powerful program for Tulane Law students. Environmental students lead the annual Summit on Environmental Law and Policy, a two-day event covering a host of environmental and energy law issues.

Voted the 2013 Student Program of the Year by the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, the summit draws key figures from the environmental arena each year – and it’s orchestrated by more than 50 students.

Tulane Law | Environmental Law Summit

CLE Chair Amanda Serfess, Logistics Chair Rachael Waxler Ruiz and Executive Summit Chair Emily Prince (all L ’16) helped organize the 20th Annual Summit on Environmental Law and Policy.

“There’s nothing else at Tulane Law with this degree of student programming,” said Emily Prince (L ’16), executive summit chair.

Students create the summit from the ground up, conceptualizing program topics, finding environmental leaders to participate in lectures and panels, creating a budget and raising funds, planning social media outreach and overseeing the details of each day.

Alison Dunbar (L ’16), the summit’s finance chair, described her experience as “an opportunity to develop my communication and organization skills,” plus “network with
individuals and organizations in the environmental law field.”

This year’s summit covered “Energy, Water, Wildlife and Beyond,” exploring the intersections between environmental, energy and water law. The program featured a record-breaking 23 panels on issues affecting local, regional and global communities, including climate change, fracking, endangered species and the contentious New Orleans levee board litigation.

“Ideally, we’d like to do everything we can to help the environment, but practically speaking, we also love our iPhones and other commodities. So we wanted to focus on the overlap between the environmental and energy law fields this year,” Prince said. “We had a strong energy focus but covered other topics like water and wildlife as well.”

Tulane Law | Environmental Law Summit

Organizations like the Louisiana Wildlife Federation set up booths to discuss their causes with summit attendees.

The 2015 summit organizers connected with key figures in these arenas, securing keynote speakers Gen. Russel Honoré, commander of the U.S. Army’s Katrina joint task force, and Pat Mulroy, a leader in the international water community.

“It was surreal, getting to work with people who are such a big deal in their fields. It was scary at first . . . but I definitely learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to keep asking!” Prince said.

The summit is always open to the public and this year drew more than 800 attendees, including attorneys, academics, students and representatives from industry and government.

Mardi Gras memories: The five best things about carnival season at Tulane Law

For anyone living in New Orleans, there’s no escaping Mardi Gras. It all begins with red-and-green holiday decorations giving way to purple, green and gold everywhere. King cakes –sugary and scrumptious — start appearing at school, work and parties. Before long, parades begin marching through every major neighborhood, and it’s nearly impossible to stay away from the colorful sights and joyful sounds.

Tulane Law students can’t escape Mardi Gras, either — and there’s no reason we’d want to. Read on for the best of Mardi Gras around Tulane Law School this year.

1. Mardi Gras is more than a single day of celebration. Carnival season lasts several weeks, and Weinmann Hall feels the festive spirit long before Fat Tuesday. 

Tulane Law Review students Austin Priddy (L '15), Meghan Marchetti (L '15), Alston Walker (L '15), Libby McIntosh (L '15), Laura Cannon (L '16), Meghan Dupre (L '16), Kathryn Hasting (L '16) and Jeff Gelpi (L '15) infuse a little carnival spirit into their work.

Tulane Law Review students Austin Priddy (L ’15), Meghan Marchetti (L ’15), Alston Walker (L ’15), Libby McIntosh (L ’15), Laura Cannon (L ’16), Meghan Dupre (L ’16), Kathryn Hasting (L ’16) and Jeff Gelpi (L ’15) infuse a little Mardi Gras spirit into their work.

Tulane Law Review members have been reviewing scholarly articles all year, but for the past few weeks, they did so surrounded by festive Mardi Gras decorations and king cake. Junior Member Laura Cannon (L ’16) brightened up the law review suite with purple, green and gold garlands and banners, while other law review members contributed countless king cakes throughout carnival season.

“We’re in the law review suite so much that it’s become like a second home. I thought the decorations would make this a happier place for all of us to be during Mardi Gras,” Laura said.

Tulane Law | Mardi Gras

The Dictator took over Adjunct Professor Mike Butterworth’s admiralty class days before Mardi Gras. “The Dictator is nobody to trifle with,” Butterwoth said. Photo by Dennis Zhao.

2. The parade route isn’t the only place to catch beads during Mardi Gras.

Someone calling himself The Dictator invaded Adjunct Professor Mike Butterworth’s (L ‘89) class Thursday before Mardi Gras, throwing beads and overriding the lesson plan. Prof. Butterworth says he was not in class that day because he had been warned to avoid The Dictator’s takeover of his Carriage of Goods by Sea admiralty class.

The Dictator is the brazen leader of Le Krewe d’Etat, a Mardi Gras krewe that’s renowned for its satirical parade themes. Mardi Gras krewe members traditionally maintain anonymity, and locals have fun trying to recognize parade riders behind their masks each year. Revelers attempted to spot and identify The Dictator
at Krewe d’Etat’s parade Friday night, but the
masked man’s identity remains a mystery.

It cannot be confirmed or denied whether Prof. Butterworth himself is a member of any Mardi Gras krewes at this time.

3. The annual Mardi Gras Sports Law Invitational draws law students nationwide and is Tulane’s leading invitational moot court competition.

Moot court volunteers Shauna DiGiovanni (L '15), Jennifer David (L '16), Jaimie Riggs (L '15) and Kevin Koskovich (L '16) help run the Mardi Gras Invitational competition.

Moot court volunteers Shauna DiGiovanni (L ’15), Jennifer David (L ’16), Jaimie Riggs (L ’15) and Kevin Koskovich (L ’16) help run the Mardi Gras Invitational competition. Photo courtesy of Shauna DiGiovanni.

During the Mardi Gras Invitational, student competitors argued both sides of current and complex topics in sports law, a key area of focus at Tulane Law School. This year’s problem tackled issues surrounding the legalization of sports gambling and an MLB franchise relocation under baseball’s antitrust exemption.

The invitational drew approximately 95 competitors from 32 law schools throughout the country, and they were judged by attorneys and judges in each round.

“The practitioners are genuinely interested and eager to learn about the issues in the problem, making for intense and highly interactive oral arguments,” said Shauna DiGiovanni (L ’15), moot court administrative justice for invitational competitions.

And it’s only fitting that Tulane hosts its annual competition the week before Mardi Gras, when competitors can partake in quintessentially New Orleans traditions during downtime.

“It is a privilege to bring 95 people from all over the country to my home, and we make sure they have a chance to not only participate in a premier moot court competition, but to truly soak up everything New Orleans has to offer,” said Shauna, a New Orleans native. “From a Mardi Gras-themed awards banquet along the parade route after Muses, to homemade pralines and Zapp’s potato chips, the competitors undoubtedly leave New Orleans eager to return.”

Demetrius Sumner (L ’15), Assistant Dean Jim Letten (L ’79), retired attorney Joe Ettinger (L ’56), Professor Gabe Feldman, T.J. Henry (L ’13), Shauna DiGiovanni (L '15) and Jennifer David (L '16) join finalists Joseph Kammerman and Vino Jayaraman of Cardozo School of Law and Laura Grubb and Katelin Eastman of Pepperdine School of Law to celebrate a successful competition.

Demetrius Sumner (L ’15), Assistant Dean Jim Letten (L ’79), retired attorney Joe Ettinger (L ’56), Professor Gabe Feldman, attorney T.J. Henry (L ’13), Shauna DiGiovanni (L ’15) and Jennifer David (L ’16) join finalists Joseph Kammerman and Vino Jayaraman of Cardozo School of Law and Laura Grubb and Katelin Eastman of Pepperdine School of Law to celebrate a successful competition.

Tulane Law | Mardi Gras

Zhandra Marin (LLM ’10, SJD ’14), Wanadi Molina (LLM ’15) and Lara Vuillequey (exchange student) chat before the Muses parade.

4. Camaraderie is infectious during Mardi Gras, and Tulane Law students explore New Orleans together like never before – whether it’s their first or their 30th carnival. 

Seeing Mardi Gras for the first time thrills New Orleans newcomers, but Tulane Law’s international students, who come to study in the city for just a year, get a special view of the fun.

Professor Herb Larson, executive director of international legal studies and graduate programs, and his wife, Julianne, welcome Tulane’s international students to carnival season with their annual dinner before the Krewe of Muses parade. Students gather at the Larsons’ uptown home for traditional New Orleans fare, like jambalaya and mini po’boys, then vie for beads and coveted hand-decorated shoes at the parade.

Sharaf Asgarova (LLM '15) samples Creole cuisine at Professor Herb Larson's Muses dinner. Photo by Rubaiyat Rahman.

Sharaf Asgarova (LLM ’15) samples Creole cuisine at Professor Herb Larson’s Muses dinner. Photo by Rubaiyat Rahman.

This year’s Muses party was only the beginning of the weekend’s celebrations.

“The city was full of energy, music was playing the whole day. I saw the spirit of New Orleans’ people. They were so kind and friendly to all of us. Also I got to see some of my Tulane professors in the floats…this showed me how important and valuable this festivity is to all the community,” Panamanian student Claudia Juárez (LLM ’15) said. “This weekend reminded me how lucky I am to live in this unique city.”

“It was my first ever Mardi Gras and it was a superb experience… Definitely a cultural experience I will not feel anywhere else,” Indonesian student Januar Putra (LLM ’15) said.

But, as Chinese student Dennis Zhao (LLM ’15) noted, the best part of Mardi Gras for many students was the fellowship it fostered. “For me, the greatest moment is to spend time with international friends… the whole international family getting together to share happiness,” Dennis said.

Tulane Law | Mardi Gras

Enrique Rubio (LLM ’15), Dennis Westerink (exchange student), Nathan Sarkas (LLM ’15), Dennis Zhao (LLM ’15), Justus Langelittig (LLM ’15), Claudia Juárez (LLM ’15) and Iliana Ibarra (LLM ’15) enjoyed the Krewe of Mid-City’s parade together on St. Charles Avenue. Photo courtesy of Claudia Juárez.

5. For most places in the world, Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras are just an ordinary Monday and Tuesday. Here, they’re days of vibrant celebration (and Tulane Law School holidays).

Who can argue with two days off, especially when they’re packed with so much energy and excitement?

To tweet or not to tweet? Mastering today’s legal job search

Tulane Law School | Twitter

Tulane Law School is active on Twitter. Are law students? Employers? Recruiters?

Technology streamlines the legal job search in ways not available just a few years ago. Students can apply for jobs online, email cover letters and resumes to potential employers and research firms in minutes. But it also raises questions for law students caught between digital job search techniques and more traditional approaches to entering the legal market.

Should I tweet the firm I want to work for? Should I email that recruiter or call? Do I really need a LinkedIn profile? Is it ok to use the selfie I just Instagrammed as my Facebook profile photo?

The Career Development Office works to balance law students’ and employers’ perspectives on best practices for landing a legal job. The CDO offers a host of programming covering all aspects of the job hunt. The Student Bar Association’s CDO liaisons arrange for students to take discounted headshots to use on their online profiles. (Hint: It’s probably time to lose that selfie.) The CDO liaisons also offer business card ordering to assist students in more conventional job search tactics. And Assistant Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan and CDO Director Katie O’Leary explain the digital dos and don’ts for the student job search.

Tulane Law | CDO

Rebecca Schwartz (L ’17) poses for $5 professional headshots at the CDO.

Do you think social media has changed the landscape for the job search? If so, do you have any advice on how students should navigate that?

Katie: I do, and I think there are some positives and some negatives. Starting with the positives, it’s much easier to connect with practitioners than it used to be. You don’t have to have an email address for them or have someone introduce you, so we often encourage students to connect, especially on professional sites like LinkedIn. I think Twitter can also be a great use for that. If you’re interested in a particular field, it’s very easy to follow the heavy-hitters and communicate with them one-on-one . . . It’s also easier to prep for interviews, because you can easily find out what firms or employers are doing based on their Twitter and Facebook pages. The negative is obviously that students are also out there from the world to see. From day one, we remind them of that. Our students are professionals, so I think it’s rarely an issue. However, they do have to be aware that employers are checking them out online and making decisions on a social media platform about whether they’d be good fits for their organizations.

Sarka: But I think there is a little caveat, and it is that the legal profession is so traditional and is famous for not keeping up with technology. . . . The students who are very creative may have a hard time complying with those traditional requirements, like ivory-colored resumes and matching envelopes. To some extent, students may feel restricted when they reach out to employers.

Katie: And I think that goes for social media, too. It’s much easier to use social media if you’re interested in a field that’s a little more cutting-edge. I always think of the sports law students when I think about this, because most of the heavy-hitting players in the sports law arena are very present on social media. A student interested in that field can find out pretty much everything they want to know online. . . . A student who’s interested in a corporate transactional setting may be a little disappointed in the fact that they’re not getting as much from the practitioners whom they’d like to connect with. That being said, I think a lot of the larger firms are doing a great job of promoting themselves on social media. I follow a lot of the big firms in our local market and can find out pretty much anything they’re doing at any time, but that is not the case for smaller and mid-size firms, and those are the employers a lot of our students go to. I think some of our students may be a little ahead of the people they’d like to connect with, because they’ve just been doing it longer. It’s a transition.

Tulane Law | CDO

Jamar Green (L ’16) reviews headshots he can incorporate into his resume and social media profiles to help his job search.

Sarka: It’s just the little things. I remember some students could not understand why they shouldn’t have [QR] codes on their resumes. I know for sure that some of the more traditional recruiters just don’t like that. But if you are applying to a solo practitioner who does a lot of IP work, they may be more likely to click. So it does depend on where you’re applying.

Katie: It does highlight, not necessarily the generational gap, but the gap between students and professionals. Because in our field at least, the important people are not necessarily valuing technology as much, and students may be valuing it a little too much.  I feel like both sides could get to a happy medium. It is an issue we have with students – you can’t always email, you can’t always expect texts, you sometimes have to get on the phone or in person and chat.

Sarka: Lawyers are also used to talking a lot, and now the students and younger population seem more comfortable texting and emailing. Sometimes, we have had issues when emails are not as clear as talking to someone in person. Students should think about getting outside their comfort zones and meeting in person or picking up the phone, rather than sending emails or text messages.

Katie: But, to answer your question, that is the flip side of it. Students have to kind of work backwards, because they need to work within the parameters of the decision-makers in the field. At some point, those decision-makers may come around to more social media, more technology, more texting, but at this point, I don’t think the majority of the field is there.

Sarka: They still need to play according to the old rules.

Q: So it sounds like social media is a good resource for students, but it isn’t a substitute for the traditional ways of communicating with employers.

Sarka: That will happen when these students become partners one day!

Katie: But by then the new students and associates will be onto something else and won’t even use email anymore!

Psst… Are you following Tulane Law School on social media? If not, what are you waiting for?
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TulaneLawSchool
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TulaneLawSchool

Students wait to take discounted headshots and order business cards, arranged by the Student Bar Association's Career Development Office liaisons.

Students wait to take discounted headshots and order business cards, arranged by the Student Bar Association’s CDO liaisons to help with students’ job hunts.

Boot camp: An intensive week of real-world legal skills

Law school has you committed to succeeding like never before: You attend class without fail, tackle your legal research and writing assignments and study diligently for exams. But do you really know what it means to practice law?

Tulane Law is filling the gap between classroom learning and real-world work through innovative and challenging programs like the Intersession boot camp each January. This year, more than 130 students tackled a week’s worth of intensive exercises that provided eye-opening, hands-on insight into civil litigation, criminal litigation and corporate transactions. Guided by top attorneys and judges from across the country (many of them Tulane Law alumni), boot camp students took on the role of lawyers – deposing witnesses, writing briefs, arguing motions in state and federal court and closing business deals.

By the end of the program, students and faculty were eager to share their experiences and explain how boot camp has become a key resource for teaching practical skills that prepare Tulane graduates for the realities of the profession.

Student perspectives

Why are you participating in boot camp?

Scott Bickford (L '82) deposes Andrew Leach (L '16) with Lynn Luker (L ’81, LLM ’85, LLM ’92), co-director of the civil litigation track.

Scott Bickford (L ’82) deposes Andrew Leach (L ’16) with Lynn Luker (L ’81, LLM ’85, LLM ’92), co-director of the civil litigation track.

“Boot camp makes you learn more about the practical ‘what to do’ as opposed to the more academic ‘how to think.’ It’s also been great to work with experienced practitioners who have been extremely helpful and willing to share their knowledge and strategy with us.”

– Graham Williams (L ’15); New Orleans; University of Virginia; criminal litigation

 

“Boot camp is a great baseline foundational experience, and I think it’s going to give me much more confidence in a summer work situation.”

Tray Smith (L ’16); Atmore, Alabama; University of Alabama; business transactions

Tulane Law | Boot Camp

Karuna Davé (L ’16) and fellow civil litigation students wait to argue motions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

“To get skills-training — things I wouldn’t learn in the classroom. It’s been really helpful to actually do everything instead of just talking about it, like preparing witnesses for depositions, taking depositions and arguing a motion in court. And because the program is all day, every day, for a week, it gives you an opportunity to grow a lot in a short amount of time.”

– Karuna Davé (L ’16); Princeton, New Jersey; Rutgers University; civil litigation

What’s your favorite part of boot camp?

“Getting hands-on experience in law. It’s one thing to learn something in class, and it’s an entirely different thing to actually apply it.”

– Alex Arbor (L ’15); Detroit; Kalamazoo College; civil litigation

“My favorite thing has been meeting different practitioners every day and getting to see their different styles and strategies. Ultimately, some pieces of each attorney’s style of practice will resonate with you, and it’s a great way to figure out what your own style is.”

– Sara Norval (L ’16); New Orleans; University of Chicago; civil litigation

Judge Byron Williams (L '87) of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court questions a student arguing a motion to suppress evidence.

Judge Byron Williams (L ’87) of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court questions a student arguing a motion to suppress evidence.

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that you may come to law school and know the law really well, but that doesn’t mean you know the simple, real aspects of practicing – like where to stand when you’re arguing in court. Getting those practical, real-world skills is a must.”

– Jay Farmer (L ’15); Boston; Boston College; criminal litigation

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned in boot camp?

Hillary Khoury (L '16) interviews a "witness" during the criminal litigation track.

Hillary Khoury (L ’16) interviews a “witness” during the criminal litigation track.

“How much practice really helps. Before boot camp, I thought this was something you’re either good at or you’re not. But within even three days, I’ve seen so much improvement in myself and my classmates, and it’s been really cool to watch those changes.”

– Hillary Khoury (L ’16); Burbank, California; Loyola Marymount University; criminal litigation

“That there’s significant overlap in the skills needed for transactional and litigation practices, because a big part of litigation is negotiation and settlement. So we’re learning transferable skills in the transactional track this week that can help in any practice.”

– John Bicknell (L ’15); Shreveport, Louisiana; Trinity University; business transactions

Faculty perspectives

Why do you teach in Tulane’s boot camp?

“I’m doing this because I see how valuable it is for students to get experience beyond academics, so they know there’s a courtroom outside the classroom. Their development from Monday morning to Friday afternoon is amazing. They’re so much more comfortable and confident in their skills.”

– Joseph Ettinger (L ’56); retired attorney; Chicago; criminal litigation, fourth year

Laura Gasiorowski (L ’94) helps criminal litigation students prepare to argue motions in court.

Laura Gasiorowski (L ’94) helps criminal litigation students prepare to argue motions in court.

“When I came here and taught the program in its first year, I realized how incredibly rewarding it was to import something of value to these students. The lack of practical training has been a significant flaw in the whole model of law schools, and I feel proud to be a part of something novel to change that.”

– Laura Gasiorowski (L ’94); The Law Offices of Robert G. Stahl, LLC; Westfield, New Jersey; criminal litigation, fourth year

“Dean Meyer’s vision for this is really unmatched elsewhere. Other law schools may be following suit now, but this is Tulane’s vision. The program is the perfect bridge between the theory of the classroom and the reality of practice.”

– Bennett Fisher (L ’81); Fisher & Associates; Houston; business transactions, fourth year

Brian Rosenblatt (L ’08) helps transactional students negotiate to close a deal.

Brian Rosenblatt (L ’08) helps transactional students negotiate to close a deal.

How does boot camp prepare students for practice?

“It gives students a real understanding of what real lawyers do. It helps students hit the ground running in firms, and it better prepares them for the law firm environment and what steps to take when they get there.”

– Brian Rosenblatt (L ’08); Vinson & Elkins; New York; business transactions

“I think students crave something beyond the traditional classroom experience, and boot camp is just that. It gives them a leg up and exposes them to practice areas and concepts in a way they wouldn’t get until they were out practicing.”

– Warren Burns (L ’04); Susman Godfrey; Dallas; civil litigation, second year

“This program fulfills a niche. No part of the typical law school education focuses on pre-trial litigation – it focuses on trials. This program is a good start for students to gain pragmatic skills in pre-trial practice in a different and broader sense than they would get in the law clinics or elsewhere.”

– Scott Sherman; Orleans Public Defenders; New Orleans; criminal litigation, fourth year

Want more information on Tulane Law’s boot camp program? Watch the video below.

Fall semester highlights

Season’s greetings from Weinmann Hall!

The semester has quickly come and gone. But as students, faculty and staff head home for the holidays, we’re thankful for the scholarship, service and celebrations that took place at Tulane Law this fall. The photo evidence below is proof that Tulane stands out as one of the most unique places to study law. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Click on the thumbnails below to view them as full images.

Bonus: Prof. Sally Richardson’s accompanying Halloween dance routine can be viewed here.

Happy holidays!

Six unique opportunities to give back

Law students meet with representatives from a variety of local public service programs at Tulane Law's Pro Bono Fair every fall.

Law students meet with representatives from a variety of local public service programs at Tulane Law’s Pro Bono Fair each fall. Photo by Ali Mansfield.

With the fall semester winding down, Weinmann Hall seems quieter as students hunker down for finals. But that only temporarily masks how active the past few months have been as students juggle classes, extracurricular activities and service to the community.

Tulane Law values its leadership role in public service. Tulane was the first U.S. law school to require pro bono work as part of the curriculum, and students collectively have provided more than 200,000 service hours during the program’s 25+ years. Other schools have added pro bono to their graduation requirements, but even Jeopardy! recognizes Tulane’s distinction as the leader: it was a clue on the show in October.

While Tulane Law students have dozens of different pro bono opportunities with community partners, Assistant Dean for Public Interest Programs Julie Jackson points to these six as her most interesting:

  1. Entertainment Law Legal Assistance (ELLA)

New Orleans is an exciting hub for art, music and drama. But how can upcoming artists afford to protect their interests in the often-cutthroat entertainment industry?

ELLA, a collaboration of Tulane Law School, the Tipitina’s Foundation and the Arts Council of New Orleans, provides legal advice for performers and artists. Students help clients protect their interests and recognize their rights under contract and intellectual property law.

“ELLA’s perspective is unique,” Jackson said. “Students quickly see that lawyers can be proactive and can help clients avoid or minimize future legal problems.”

  1. Gulf Restoration Network (GRN)

One of south Louisiana’s less-celebrated claims to fame: its rapidly eroding coastline. But students can get involved in ongoing efforts to save the coast through legal channels and raising public awareness.

Public Interest Program Coordinator Eileen Ryan and Assistant Dean Julie Jackson help students find service opportunities locally and nationally each year. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano.

Public Interest Program Coordinator Eileen Ryan and Assistant Dean Julie Jackson help place students in a host of unique service opportunities locally and nationally each year. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano.

The GRN is dedicated to protecting and restoring the Gulf Coast, and it offers law students invaluable experience in environmental law. The GRN tackles water quality, sustainable fisheries, smart energy, hurricane rebuilding and endangered species protection. Law students at the GRN may review permit applications, help develop corporate accountability resolutions and perform legal research.

  1. Eden House

Eden House, a residential program for victims of commercial and sexual exploitation, provides exposure to the legal issues surrounding human rights violations. Founded and run by Tulane Law graduate and former U.S. diplomat Kara Van de Carr (L ’98), Eden House connects its clients to various rehabilitative services, including legal aid.  And cities across the nation are now looking to it as a model for supporting human trafficking survivors, Jackson said.

“The program takes a holistic approach to helping clients, who may have legal concerns but also have social, educational and healthcare needs,” Jackson said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for law students to be exposed to the interrelationship of law with other fields.”

  1. New Orleans City Hall

Fascinated by politics and government? Through Tulane’s partnership with the City of New Orleans and its Volunteers in Government of Responsibility program, law students work alongside undergraduates at City Hall, assisting with various aspects of municipal government. (B.Y.O. political aspirations.)

  1. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Tulane’s newest pro bono offering is with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, providing a chance to see the operation of an office within a vast federal agency.

Although the department offers assignments covering an array of legal projects, much of the local DHS office’s work pertains to immigration issues, a key area overseen by the department and one where students can get timely experience in immigration law.

Caroline Wick and Angela Pokorn (both L '15) attend a hearing for a POPS client at Angola Penitentiary.

Caroline Wick and Angela Pokorn (both L ’15) attend a hearing for a POPS client at Angola Penitentiary.

  1. Tulane Project for Older Prisoners (POPS)

This program originated at Tulane Law School, focusing on an often-overlooked segment of Louisiana’s overcrowded prisons: inmates over age 50 who have already served the bulk of long sentences. POPS represents selected, older inmates in parole hearings. This sector
of the prison population poses a significantly lower risk of recidivism, or committing more crimes. The program benefits the public by saving funds spent on costly, continued incarceration and freeing limited prison space
that may be better utilized for younger, higher-risk inmates.

Under the supervision of Tulane Law alumna Suzy Mixakis (L ’03), POPS successfully represented four clients this fall.

“Students learn to interview the clients and also see the correctional system from the inside out, which is an invaluable experience for all citizens, as well as for future lawyers,” Jackson said.

Young alumni return home: Class reunions and Homecoming

Prospective students may not realize it, but this past weekend at Tulane Law was kind of a big deal. Not only did more than 64 years’ worth of alumni come together for their class reunions, but Tulane also held its first Homecoming game on campus for the first time in 40 years, making it a weekend to remember.


Class of 2009 reunion

Homecoming weekend was especially noteworthy for the graduates of Tulane Law’s Class of 2009, who had their first official class reunion. Class of ’09 alumni gathered Nov. 14 at Barrel Proof for their five-year reunion (or, as one alumna suggested, their “8L bar review”).

Five years out, they’re sprinting along partnership tracks at local law firms, launching solo practices, working as state legislative aides, even running one beloved local spot for Creole cuisine. They’re also on the boards of the Young Leadership Council, Louisiana Center for Women in Government & Business, the Urban Conservancy, and all three local bar associations. And that’s only covering the grads in attendance.

Tulane Law Class of 2009

Class of 2009 alumni, family and friends Jacob Young, Erica Washington, Michael Landry, Maria Landry, Kelley Bagayoko, Tim Adams and Jessica Serrano reunited at Barrel Proof.

Tulane Law Class of 2009

Megan Kiefer, Michael Landry, Maria Landry, Erica Washington, Jacob Young, Theresa Anderson, Kelley Bagayoko, Jessica Serrano, Tim Adams and Trevor Haynes at the Class of ’09 reunion.

Tulane Law Class of 2009

Alumnae Marli Want and Molly Wright Sullivan caught up at their five-year reunion. Want is associate general counsel with PosiGen, and Sullivan runs a solo practice specializing in estate planning for parents of special needs kids.

Tulane Law Class of 2009

2009 grads Jacob Young and Megan Kiefer. Young runs a solo law practice in New Orleans and Kiefer runs Kiefer & Kiefer firm in Metairie.

Tulane Law Class of 2009

Alumni Trey Trapani of Sher Garner, Marshall Hevron of Adams & Reese and John Guenard, U.S. Army defense counsel.

Tulane Law Class of 2009

Class of ’09 alumni Jacob Young and Jessica Serrano. Serrano is director of operations for Jacques Imo’s restaurant. Reunion photos by Ali Mansfield.


 Homecoming tailgating

Class reunions were only part of the fun. On game day, grads from all classes met at Weinmann Hall for the law school’s tailgating celebration. Students, alumni, family and friends ate, drank and took in the sunny NOLA weather, reminiscing about their law school days before the much-anticipated Homecoming game.

Go Green Wave!

Tulane Law Tailgate

Kyle Satterfield (L ’16) and sister Brooke, a Tulane University student, enjoyed gorgeous fall weather at the law school’s tailgating event.

Tulane Law Tailgate

Melanie Waitzer (LA ’13), Scott Goldin (L ’11), Mark Melasky (L ’11) and Shayra Burgos-Garcia, Tulane Ph.D. candidate, gathered at Weinmann Hall.

Tulane Law Tailgate

Graham Williams (L ’15), Student Bar Association president, visits with friends at the law school’s Homecoming celebration.

Tulane Law Tailgate

Exchange student Yue Qi and LLM students Shu Chen and Jingchen Xu (both LLM ’15) enjoyed Creole fare at the law school’s Homecoming event.

Tulane Law Tailgate

Sarka Cerna-Fagan, assistant dean for career development, chats with Carol McDonald and Ryan O’Connor (both L ’13). Tailgating photos by Geoff Campbell.

A Halloween Dream in New Orleans

There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate Halloween in New Orleans. You can parade with Krewe of Boo. Take in frighteningly creative costumes in the French Quarter. Cheer on Tulane football in “Ghoulman” Stadium.

But Tulane Law alumna Kelsey Meeks (L ’10) spent Halloween a little differently. This year, she launched ‘WEEN DREAM, a national nonprofit that makes Halloween accessible to kids in need. The New Orleans-based organization matches new and gently used costumes with children whose families otherwise couldn’t provide them.

'WEEN DREAM founder Kelsey Meeks (L '10) helped costume baby Kanye as a giraffe, allowing him and mom Kiara to celebrate Halloween in style. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Meeks.

‘WEEN DREAM founder Kelsey Meeks (L ’10) helped costume baby Kanye as a giraffe, allowing him and mom, Kierra, to celebrate Halloween in style.
Photo courtesy of Kelsey Meeks.

Meeks, a Wall, Bullington & Cook attorney and lifelong Halloween devotee, said she founded the organization believing that all children should get to participate in Halloween – regardless of the financial, medical or personal difficulties they may face at home.

“Every other day of the year may be out of their control, but Halloween belongs to kids,” she said. “It’s the one special day when they can be whoever or whatever they want.”

In its first year, ‘WEEN DREAM costumed 580 kids across seven states, the majority in Louisiana. The nonprofit made it happen with $1500 in monetary contributions and donated costumes – many from Tulane Law
alumni. Even the Tulane Law Review’s senior
board pitched in to outfit a child.

But there’s more to be done. Even though ‘WEEN DREAM provided hundreds of costumes this season, over 800 kids applied. The group lacked the resources to outfit them all.

Meeks’ game plan? The Louisiana State Bar Association already helped ‘WEEN DREAM set up post-Halloween costume drop locations statewide. The organization is planning pilot programs in other cities to expand donations nationally. The group is also throwing a black-tie costume party/fundraiser on March 28 at the Mortuary Haunted House – where part of the haunted house will be up and running.

Meeks has much work ahead to meet her goal of costuming all of next year’s applicants, but she said she’s proud of what ‘WEEN DREAM accomplished so far.

'WEEN DREAM Board Members Valerie Gernhauser (L '09), Kelsey Meeks (L '10), Alli Scott Craig and Tara Benoit-Rodrigue (a 2014 Tulane Continuing Studies grad) sort donated garb so kids in need can dress up for Halloween. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano.

‘WEEN DREAM Board Members Valerie Gernhauser (L ’09), Kelsey Meeks (L ’10), Alli Scott Craig and Tara Benoit-Rodrigue (a 2014 Tulane Continuing Studies grad) sort donated garb so kids in need can dress up for Halloween. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano.

And she credits much of the group’s success to legal skills. The nonprofit’s board members include three other attorneys (Valerie Gernhauser is a 2009 Tulane Law grad) and a paralegal, and they were able to file all their own incorporating and tax exemption documents.

Meeks said her law school experiences — gaining interest in public service, learning to lead others and developing organizational skills on the Tulane Law Review — prepared her to launch ‘WEEN DREAM.

“What I did at Tulane Law gave me the confidence to go out and build this organization instead of waiting and hoping someone else would start it,” she said.

No 1L left behind: Inside the Career Development Office

Is it stereotype or reality? A first-year student scurries into class, realizing too late he’s missing his case briefs for today’s assignment. Then he overhears a classmate bragging about a prestigious internship she just landed for next summer – and it’s only October. “How am I possibly supposed to find a legal internship,” he wonders, “when I can’t even find my homework?”

Tulane Law’s Career Development Office doesn’t want that anxiety to be reality. Assistant Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan and CDO Director Katie O’Leary explain how their office is making sure no 1L is left behind in the legal job search— through professional development, one-on-one counseling and mentoring opportunities.

Q: How would you describe the role of the CDO for first-year law students?

CDO Director Katie O'Leary has an initial career counseling meeting with 1L (name).

CDO Director Katie O’Leary has an initial career counseling meeting with a first-year student.

Sarka: I think the most important thing we do is introduce the first-year class to the steps they need to take, the timeline for taking them and the many opportunities there are. Even though some students come from a legal background, many have no idea what being a lawyer entails or don’t realize how many opportunities there are.

Katie: We try to help them design a job search strategy that’s going to work for them. We also try to think short-term, in that students don’t want to get too stressed out yet about what they’re going to be doing at graduation. We try to focus them on what they’re going to be able to do this summer to get some experience on their resumes.

Sarka: We have classes in which we cover topics that should be relevant to every student, and then we have one-on-one counseling sessions with them individually. . . . One of the things I think people don’t realize is that having a career is really just stepping from one stone to another to get across the river.

Q: Do students tend to focus more on their endgame and not think about the little steps it takes to get there?

Katie: A lot of them come in with very specific goals of what they’d like to do post-grad, which is great. But it’s not always possible to get there right away. So, for example, if they come in and say, “I really want to be in-house post-grad doing something corporate—”

Sarka: Or “working for the Saints.”

Katie: That’s a great example. “I want to be in-house for an NFL team.” It’s our job to show them how they get there — what practical steps they can take for the first summer, for the second summer, what they will do initially after finishing school — and helping them see how these little experiences could build into what they ideally want to do. The other thing is, we know from experience, the interests many come in with are not the interests they have later.

Q: When do you begin working with the 1Ls?

Career Counselor Pat Guzman-Weema and Asst. Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan lead the 1L mini-course on professional development.

Career Counselor Pat Guzman-Weema and Asst. Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan lead the 1L mini-course on professional development.

Sarka: We started the mini-course Monday, Oct. 13. There, we cover topics like resume and cover letter writing, job resources, networking, interviewing and describing different legal practice areas. That’s another thing – students have little exposure to anything other than litigation, so many think they want to be litigators. But there are many other practice areas they may enjoy, and many first-year students haven’t been
exposed to them yet.

Katie: However, we don’t actually meet with the first-year students one-on-one until Oct. 15, and that is due to [National Association for Law Placement] guidelines. Every ABA-accredited law school follows that same timeline, because our 1Ls are supposed to be focusing on assimilating to law school, study habits, learning to brief cases and things like that.

Q: What else should new students expect in terms of developing their career interests and starting the job search?

Katie: One thing we encourage, particularly in the first semester and certainly in the second semester, is for first-year students to explore the educational programming throughout the law school. . . . For instance, if I want to do public interest this summer, I should definitely be at the PILF summer internship program; I want to do judicial, I should be at that. The other thing first-year students do is once they’ve had their initial counsel appointment, gone over what they’re interested in in terms of location and maybe type of position, and reviewed their materials, they should touch base again during the semester. Do they have more polished versions of their resumes now that I’ve made critiques? Do they need me to review their cover letters now that Sarka has gone over how to write one? . . . Once holiday break comes, that’s when we really suggest they get their job search in gear, after focusing on their studies and finals.

Sarka: Over holiday break, first-year students absolutely need to conduct five informational interviews, which we try to prepare them for. Additionally, they are lucky that in the South, there’s a tradition of law firms hosting holiday parties they can attend. Also, some of the bar associations have events, and they should really try to go to at least one of those.

Katie: One of the beauties of being a first-year student is there are a lot of opportunities during school to learn, enrich themselves, develop interests and network, and there are also a lot of opportunities to intern in the summer. It’s very rare that a 1L can’t find a summer internship. . . . There are so many opportunities, and they’re not under the pressure that maybe upperclassmen are to pick something similar to what they plan to do post-grad. They have a lot of latitude to just try things out, which is great.

Coffee with the CDO

Students chat with the CDO’s Pat Guzman-Weema and Sarka Cerna-Fagan over breakfast.

Q: Can first-year students expect any other professional guidance or mentoring?

Sarka: I think the school realizes how difficult the job search can be, so we are trying to give each student like a little village — “it takes a village to raise a child”— surrounding each student with several mentors. For the next incoming class, all students will be matched with alumni mentors when they are admitted. Right now, each first-year student already gets a student mentor, faculty mentor and an assigned career counselor. Once they go through first year and have a better idea of what they want to do, they will be matched with a secondary counselor and, if necessary, a secondary faculty mentor.

Katie: And they can, at any point, receive an additional alumni mentor from us. The plan is that they’ll all be matched with an alumni mentor during the admissions process, but if a student, no matter the year, comes into our office and says, “I’m interested in working in this field or this city, and I want to talk to someone in that arena,” we’ll always put them in touch, to the best of our capabilities, with someone who may practice in that area or live in that market. . . . I think it’s the same thing with student organizations, and 1Ls should take advantage of those opportunities to get additional mentors.

Sarka: Many times, a third-year student can tell a first-year student, “This is what I did for my first summer. Do you want me to call my former boss, tell him about you and put you in touch?” That should be happening more often than it does.

Q: How do you work with incoming students who just aren’t sure what they want to do?

Katie: It happens all the time, and I actually think it’s a good thing, because they’re more open to opportunities. If a student really is not sure what he or she wants to do, we try to promote internships that may be a little more general in nature, where we think the student will get practical, concrete legal skills. Also, students like that may feel anxious about the fact that they don’t know what they want to do, and maybe their classmates are very focused. Part of it is just reassuring them it’s really not a big deal and the whole point of the first summer is to explore.

San Juan

Admissions update: Fall recruiting in full swing

Happy Autumn, and greetings from MSY!

(If you didn’t know, that’s the airport code for our home airport, Louis Armstrong International.)

This is traditionally the time of year that I’m most likely to have airport codes on the brain.  My staff and I travel extensively, meeting with prospective applicants at college/university events, as well as law school fairs open to the public, such as the Law School Admissions Council Forums.

So far, it has been an exceptionally beautiful travel season. Here are some pictures I’ve taken of landings in ATL, DAY, BOS and SJU. (OK, so I landed on the beach in Puerto Rico, but that was a well-earned morning off during a week of fairs for both prospective JD and LLM students!)

We have a geographically diverse student body and alumni base, so our student recruitment efforts are national and international in scope.

Tulane Law School’s application for Fall 2015 admission is now active. JD applicants must apply electronically via their Law School Admission Council accounts. LLM applicants are strongly encouraged to do the same.

To encourage early applications this year, the application fee has been waived for all JD applicants who submit their applications on or before Dec. 31, 2014. The application file need not be complete by this date. An applicant’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) file can be transmitted to Tulane later as long as the application is sent before January.

If you have any questions or concerns about the application process, please know that we are here to help. We encourage applicants to meet with admissions office staff when possible. Our extensive fall recruitment calendar for the remainder of the season can be found here. You can also contact members of our team via phone or e-mail.

MSY

David Weinberg’s last glimpse of New Orleans while taking off to meet more prospective students. Photos courtesy of David Weinberg.

Good luck on your applications, and safe travels!

– David

PS:  Here’s a final shot taking off from MSY of the
beautiful Crescent City!

– David Weinberg is assistant dean of admission at Tulane Law School