International law student explores U.S., finds lifelong friendships

Tulane Law | Dennis Zhao (LLM '15)

Chinese student Dennis Zhao (LLM ’15) moved to New Orleans to complete his LLM in Admiralty degree at Tulane Law. Photo courtesy of Dennis Zhao.

Dennis Zhao (LLM ’15) had never taken an American-style road trip before starting Tulane Law’s LLM program.

In his native China, Zhao relied on public transport for daily travel, and venturing far outside his hometown was difficult without a vehicle, he said. He’d never thought to simply hop into a car and drive cross-country.

That changed on his birthday in October 2014, when six Tulane Law classmates showed up at his New Orleans apartment and told him they were taking a trip. Justus Langelittig (Germany), Enrique Rubio (Spain), Joaquin De Obarrio (Panama), Nathan Sarkas (South Africa), David Morales (Mexico) and Zhao then set out to explore the Deep South over fall break. With a rented van and several maps, they took highways through historic plantation towns, rolling hills and oak-covered landscapes through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

Zhao discovered southern communities and culture that was “totally different from what I learned in books and movies when I was in China – another beautiful side of the United States,” he said.

And it led to lasting camaraderie with his Tulane Law classmates.

“I realized that we were six guys from six different countries,” Zhao said. “We shared stories and opinions on the road. We made jokes. This was the first time that I felt no concept of ‘foreigners’ in my mind. We established life-long, international friendships.”

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Throughout his time as a Tulane Law grad student, Zhao kept exploring (and photographing) sights in New Orleans and beyond: Lush landscapes and vibrant student life on Tulane’s campus. Sailing Lake Pontchartrain with Adjunct Professor Mike Butterworth (L ‘89). The Mississippi River’s bustling shipping industry. The unmatched energy of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans games – and Mardi Gras. Picturesque and historic architecture throughout the South. Thriving cities like New York and Washington, D.C.

Zhao even ventured to Alaska with classmate Joaquin de Obarrio (LLM ’15) during spring break.

After graduating, Zhao took one more road trip solo, visiting southern states he and his classmates weren’t able to reach: North Carolina, South Carolina and eastern Georgia.

And, although he and his friends are now spread across the world, Zhao said they still talk daily.

He credits Tulane for encouraging students to explore their surroundings, be open to other cultures and contribute to their communities.

“We opened our minds and hearts to share ideas and opinions. And we finally became a unique international family,” Zhao said. “I think this is the most important thing we got as LLMs.”

“Every international student has the same feeling: Tulane and NOLA are our home.”

Zhao is set to take the New York bar exam in February 2016 before returning to China.

Fall 2015 highlights

Happy holidays from Tulane Law School!

As semester exams wind down, students, faculty and staff are heading home for winter break. And we’re looking back with gratitude on the experiences, connections and celebrations that have filled Weinmann Hall this fall. We’re thankful to have shared these opportunities with our Tulane Law community, and we can only look forward to more excitement in 2016.

Click the thumbnails below to view them as full images.

Young grads grow global practices

Tulane Law is recognized across the globe for its international law programs – but what do international legal careers look like in practice? Below, two recent alums share their experiences helping nations rebuild and aiding immigrants navigating the U.S. legal system.

Kirsten Lavery (L ’13)

In just two years since earning her Tulane Law JD, Kirsten Lavery (L ’13) has made big strides – moving from New York to Washington, D.C., and from an international law firm to a global pro bono organization.

Tulane Law | Kirsten Lavery (L '13)

Kirsten Lavery (L ’13) helped organize a workshop to educate village leaders on South Sudan’s recent peace agreement. The meeting took place over three days in Uganda. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Lavery.

She’s counsel for the Public International Law & Policy Group, which provides legal aid to promote peace and political development in war-torn and post-conflict countries.

She manages the organization’s programs to support the peacemaking process in the Republic of South Sudan after a civil war that ended with an August peace agreement. Among her recent projects: Organizing a workshop to educate village leaders on the peace agreement’s provisions on reconciliation, justice and reparations so they can explain the changes to members of their communities.

“The peace agreement created lots of obligations related to transitional justice, which is the way a society heals after war,” Lavery said.

More than 70 chiefs from across South Sudan attended the workshop in Entebbe, Uganda and developed plans for their engagement in the transitional justice process.

She’s also worked on improving South Sudan’s documentation of human rights violations, such as killings, rapes and village burnings, so the government can prosecute those who’ve committed the crimes.

It’s hefty responsibility for a recent grad. But she’s gotten there with years of focus and persistence.

Tulane Law | Kirsten Lavery (L '13)

As a law student, Kirsten Lavery (L ’13) interned at the United Nations in Vienna. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Lavery.

With two brothers adopted from Romania and Russia, Lavery grew up with strong awareness of global issues. In college, she developed those interests by studying Spanish, government and international studies, taking economic development courses in Chile and participating in Model United Nations.

When she started Tulane Law School, she aimed to land a career in public international law, so she looked for diverse opportunities to develop her expertise.

Although she started in the Class of 2012, Lavery took one semester off to intern with the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna. She spent another with the UN’s New York branch, working in the Office of Legal Affairs and the Office of Human Resources Management’s Administrative Law Section.

Between internships, she completed a student exchange program in Amsterdam, which allowed her to live in The Hague. And she worked for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon while continuing law classes.

Recognizing the challenges of landing a spot in public international law as a new attorney, though, Lavery was careful to explore private practice as well. She clerked for two major firms in New York and planned to start her career there.

Kirsten Lavery (L '13) spoke with Tulane Law students about opportunities at the Public International Law & Policy Group.

Kirsten Lavery (L ’13) spoke with Tulane Law students about opportunities at the Public International Law & Policy Group during a recent visit to New Orleans.

She landed an associate position with Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she focused on international investigations and white
collar crime for nearly two years. Her firm experience was invaluable, she said, because it taught her to juggle a demanding, fast-paced practice. That training enabled her to hit the ground running at PILPG.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my knowledge and skills in this field,” Lavery said. “I think the work is important and hope it’s making a different in South Sudan as well as our other locations.”

In October, she returned to Tulane Law to meet with students interested in public international law careers and encouraged them to apply for PILPG’s summer program and law fellows program.

Duncan Fulton (L ’12)

Early in his legal career, 2012 grad Duncan Fulton has found a foothold in a dynamic, specialized practice that’s also personally rewarding.

As an associate at Ware Immigration in Metairie, Fulton works on “everything from humanitarian political asylum to family-based immigration to securing work visas for businesses’ employees,” he said.

During law school, Dunc Fulton (L '12) sought immigration law opportunities that solidified his interest in the field: "I was able to find something I felt passionate about and enjoyed doing."

During law school, Dunc Fulton (L ’12) sought immigration law opportunities that solidified his interest in the field: “I was able to find something I felt passionate about and enjoyed doing.”

He handles a mix of client interviews, legal research, drafting motions and briefs and arguing before immigration and federal courts. Because federal immigration law is constantly evolving, Fulton said, he’s often tackling novel issues that keep his assignments interesting.

And he can see the direct impact of his work.

“There’s always a client you’re helping at the end of the day,” he said.

Fulton started Tulane Law eager to explore immigration law. He’d majored in Spanish at Vanderbilt University, interned with an immigration attorney in Nashville and spent a year doing community development work in Ecuador.

By honing in on immigration opportunities during law school, he gained meaningful experience that set him up for a career in the field.

Tulane Law | Dunc Fulton (L '12)

In his immigration practice, Dunc Fulton (L ’12) represents both individual and business clients and handles all aspects of their cases, from initial client intake to appeals.

After his first year, Fulton interned for the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, a joint project of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas and American Immigration Lawyers Association to provide legal aid to political refugees and unaccompanied children on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I got to do a lot of great hands-on-the-ground work, on the front lines with people who had recently crossed the borders,” he said.

The following summer, he completed a fellowship with Immigrant Law Group, a private firm specializing in human rights and immigration law in Portland, Oregon. Those experiences were instrumental in teaching him immigration basics and developing his professional connections in a tightly-knit practice.

“I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of people around the country who connected me to others in the immigration community in the Southeast,” Fulton said.

After graduation, he clerked with the U.S. Immigration Court in Atlanta, then for U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Fulton said he wanted to stay in New Orleans after moving back – and, when his clerkship ended, he landed his position with Ware Immigration by contacting members of the local immigration bar.

“If I were to give advice to students looking in this field, I’d say it’s really important to show interest in the area but also to find a way to do internships and get experience early,” Fulton said. “So, start building up your resume and being assertive with networking. It’s the best way
to do it.”

The first semester: 1Ls reflect on law school life

For veteran Tulane Law students, the October fall break is a welcome time away from classes – but for 1Ls, it’s an important opportunity to reflect on the first weeks of their legal careers.

And to help first-year students transition into law school, new Assistant Dean of Students Abigail Gaunt is spearheading academic and wellness programs that encourage smart study habits and healthy lifestyles. Workshops open to all students focus on outlining skills and exam prep, while an in-depth academic support program for 1Ls provides tutoring from upper-level students who are in the top 15 percent of their classes.

But 1Ls are honing more than study skills. They’re also learning to stay balanced while juggling coursework and school activities.

Assistant Dean of Students Abigail Gaunt (center) chats with students over New Orleans-style snowballs at an event promoting Tulane's health and wellness services.

Assistant Dean of Students Abigail Gaunt (center) chats with students over New Orleans-style snowballs at an event promoting Tulane’s health and wellness services.

“Mastering the skills to deal with stress in law school will help students manage the challenges they will face throughout their professional careers,” Gaunt said.

This semester, she’s organizing a health and stress management session during the Career Development Office’s 1L mini-course, while Professors Keith Werhan and Pam Metzger are leading a school-wide mindfulness course. Both programs dovetail with enhanced wellness initiatives across campus.

Looking back on her own law school experience, Gaunt advises first-year students to “trust the studying habits that work best for them; take time for themselves to do things outside school; and not compare themselves to their classmates.”

“Above all, try to keep perspective. Law school is incredibly important, but it’s not as important as your health and happiness,” Gaunt said.

Below, three first-year students with degrees and experiences from across the country share their distinct backgrounds, favorite New Orleans finds and experiences juggling their first semesters at Tulane Law.

Annie Hundley

Tulane Law | Annie Hundley (L '18)

Louisiana native and former New York art director Annie Hundley (L ’18) says her favorite thing about Tulane Law has been “how kind and helpful everyone is.”

Hometown: Mowata, Louisiana. I grew up on a crawfish and rice farm there, approximately 150 miles west of New Orleans.

College: LSU, Baton Rouge.

Before Tulane Law: I was the digital art director at SKDKnickerbocker, a political communications firm in New York, for four years.

Started law school because: I’d always wanted to go to law school, but wanted to take some time after undergrad to make sure I wasn’t blindly following a path I’d set out at an impressionable age. After working for a few years, I was sure this was what I wanted. Law seemed like more of a sure thing than art, which can be inconsistent and often subjective. Also, my LSAT score was expiring, so it was something of a now-or-never moment.

Best Tulane discovery: The best thing about Tulane is how kind and helpful everyone is. It sounds disingenuous to make such a blanket generalization, but it’s truly the most defining characteristic I’ve found. People are always offering advice or outlines or “anything you need” — it’s so far from the stereotypical law school experience. And if you put in the work, you can find free food somewhere in the building at least twice a week.

Best New Orleans discovery: Again, so much food, all the time. Also, people wave or say good morning or interact with you in some way when they pass you on the sidewalk.

Mid-semester thoughts on Tulane Law: I never expected to be surrounded by so many smart, interesting people whose ambition doesn’t keep them from treating others well. Plenty of people here are accomplished enough to be overly snobbish, but you’d never know it. There’s a ton of camaraderie for what’s an inevitably competitive environment, and I feel lucky to be a part of it.

Lauren Starnes             

Lauren Starnes (L '18) taught middle school English in North Carolina before starting Tulane Law School.

Lauren Starnes (L ’18) taught middle school English in North Carolina before starting Tulane Law School. Photos courtesy of Lauren Starnes.

Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee.

College: Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.

Before Tulane Law: I took three years off between undergrad and law school. During the first two years, I taught middle school English at a private school in North Carolina. I spent the last year working as the office manager and legal assistant at Williams Anderson Ryan & Carroll, a boutique law firm in Dallas.

Started law school because: I decided to go to law school after completing a winter internship with Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee. I found this experience incredibly moving. It fueled my desire to attend law school, so I could guide people through our complex and often confusing legal system.

Best Tulane discovery: I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Tulane gets the most interesting people to speak at the school! Just in the first month, I have heard Bill Nye and Tig Nataro speak.

Lauren Starnes (center) volunteered with her eighth grade students at The Book Harvest, an organization that distributes donated books to schools and families in need.

Lauren Starnes (center) volunteered with her eighth grade students at The Book Harvest, an organization that distributes donated books to schools and families in need.

Best New Orleans discovery:
Audubon Park! I run there every day. The giant live oak trees make exercising a little bit more bearable.

Mid-semester thoughts on Tulane Law: Everyone who has attended law school elsewhere has horror stories of evil classmates and professors. However, at Tulane Law School, my classmates and professors are incredibly nice and supportive. It is such a wonderful community!

Fall break getaway: In between studying and outlining, I soaked up some sun in Seaside, Florida.

Shane Copelin

Shane Copelin (L '18) grew up in New Orleans and, after earning his undergrad degree at Carnegie Mellon University, returned to his hometown for law school.

Shane Copelin (L ’18) grew up in New Orleans and, after earning his undergrad degree at Carnegie Mellon University, returned to his hometown for law school.

Hometown: New Orleans.

College: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.

Started law school because: I thought law would be a good career for me that suited my personality, and I thought it would help add to my public policy undergraduate degree. I’ve always been fairly solemn, quiet and a logical thinker. I rarely believe things at face value. Becoming a lawyer was something I originally considered as a kid but did not come back to until I was a sophomore in college. [I later realized] law fit my personality, because lawyers are often calm, cool and collected thinkers, able to argue positions from multiple sides without emotional bias and after considering all possibilities. I think these personality traits align with my own, and I think law will harness my need to analyze things.

Most interesting law discovery: My most interesting law discovery is learning about “heat of passion” defenses in criminal law. Before law school, I used to wonder whether there were exceptions to murder in situations such as self-defense or when a women is escaping an abusive relationship. I found it interesting that my notions were already ingrained into the law almost 100 years ago.

Mid-semester thoughts on Tulane Law: I’m definitely enjoying law school thus far. It’s not quite as time consuming as people lead me to believe coming into it. I’m happy to be up early every day and learning something new that’s directly applicable to real-life scenarios, since everything we learn is from actual cases. The only thing I would say that caught me off guard about law school thus far was the amount of time spent on legal research and writing.

Spent fall break: I outlined for class and used my free time to work out, catch up on sleep and see my friends who don’t go to law school. I also watched the Saints beat the Falcons at the Superdome, which was great to see!

Summer work reflections: Law firm living

Each summer, Tulane Law students take off on opportunities near and far, working legal jobs, volunteering for pro bono service and studying abroad. Meet two third-year students who traveled beyond their home states to gain valuable experience and land permanent positions with major international firms after graduation.

Hayley Fritchie (L ’16): Louisiana native ventures to NYC

Tulane Law | Hayley Fritchie (L '16)

Louisiana student Hayley Fritchie (L ’16) enjoyed New York with her mother and brother — on his first trip to the city. Photos courtesy of Hayley Fritchie.

This summer, I worked with Proskauer Rose in New York. Being from Louisiana, I wanted to remain close to my family for law school with the hope of one day going to New York, which made Tulane Law the perfect fit. New York is a fantastic place to start your legal career, expose yourself to the sharpest minds in the legal profession and work on the most exciting cases.

As summer associates, we participated in a variety of tasks, including formal assignments, shadowing opportunities and summer program workshops, and we took assignments from all practice groups. That allowed us to try everything while still having the option to focus on a particular area.

I went in unsure what practice group interested me most and left with an incredible interest in labor and employment law. I was initially attracted to the field after taking Labor Law with Professor Friedman. Labor and employment attorneys counsel clients on an array of matters in an ever-changing area of law, and Proskauer has an incredible labor practice. The mentors in the group were instrumental in my success at the firm, and I loved the variety of assignments I was exposed to. For example, I researched the Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. religious discrimination decision and legal issues in denying same-sex married couples employment benefits, to name a few. I drafted formal and email memos and gave in-person briefings to attorneys on my research.

Tulane Law | Hayley Fritchie (L '16)

Hayley Fritchie (L ’16) and fellow Proskauer Rose summer associates attended the 2015 NBA Draft.

In addition to formal assignments, partners and associates provided shadowing opportunities. I sat in on court hearings and client calls, getting an inside look into Proskauer attorneys’ work.  Finally, the summer program put on four different workshops focused on negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, oral argument and mock trial. These programs were supervised by attorneys who gave us direct feedback.

As summer associates, we kept busy with projects during the day but also participated in activities outside the office. We took a cooking class, attended the Tony Awards, ventured on a scavenger hunt across the city, went to the NBA Draft and participated in a service day — to name a few! The events were a fun way to form relationships with my summer associate class and explore the city. The best part about most activities: We were visiting Proskauer clients!

My journey to Proskauer began when I participated in the New York interview program during my 1L summer. Assistant Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan encouraged me to participate, and she, along with CDO Director Katie O’Leary, put me in touch with alumni who’d worked with the firm. The interview and Tulane connections led to my summer associate offer.

At the firm, I felt ready to tackle assignments, thanks to my coursework. But beyond academics, I think Tulane’s culture helped shape me into a summer associate people enjoyed working with. In law school, it can be difficult to put aside competitive feelings and work with others to create the best work product possible. But Tulane’s collegial culture helped me make friends easily and taught me to work with my colleagues. I’m grateful to Tulane for making me a real person!

Tulane Law | Hayley Fritchie (L '16)

On a break from legal assignments, Hayley Fritchie (L ’16, left) learned culinary basics at a cooking class with summer associates and attorneys.

My summer experience shaped the rest of my life. As I suspected, New York is the perfect place to begin my legal career. On the other hand, I was unsure if working in a firm would be a good fit. I spent my 1L summer as a judicial intern, so this was my first time in a firm. I am now surer than ever that starting practice with a large firm is perfect for me — the people are brilliant, the resources are incredible and the learning experiences are never-ending. I found my passion in the labor and employment group and am so excited to practice. After graduation, I will be clerking for a federal judge in the Southern District of Mississippi, then joining Proskauer’s New York office as a labor and employment associate.

Emily von Qualen (L ’16): Midwesterner explores the Gulf Coast (and beyond)

I split my summer between Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Houston and Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, getting an insider’s look into life at different law firms.

Tulane Law | Emily von Qualen (L '16)

Emily von Qualen (L ’16), an Iowa native, worked in Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s Houston and New York offices. Photos courtesy of Emily von Qualen.

I started at Skadden, working with the Houston office’s general litigation group. One of my big projects there involved helping draft arguments for a motion to dismiss in a class action derivative suit for a technology company. This gave me an in-depth look into argument framing and editing, and I felt like an integral part of the team doing substantive work. I also worked on a pro bono report on prison reform recommendations for the New York Bar Association, and my part focused on prisoners’ mental health needs. Beyond research and writing, I observed client phone calls, depositions of potential class action plaintiffs and strategy meetings about jury selection.

Skadden also sent me to its New York office for a few weeks, where I did shorter-term projects, researching discrete questions of law and giving email answers to supervising attorneys. I also observed a motion argument in a state supreme court. The New York office had a different feel from the Houston office, because it had more than 600 attorneys and 100 summer associates. Being able to get a broader perspective of the firm was great, and, as an Iowa native, living in New York was an adventure!

In both Skadden offices, I socialized with attorneys and other summer associates at lunches and other events. Almost every day, I went to lunch with different attorneys, which allowed me to get to know them much better. One highlight from New York was doing a citywide scavenger hunt that took us all over Manhattan looking for clues. I wasn’t familiar with New York beforehand and loved learning more about the city. In Houston, my favorite event was an amazing dinner prepared by a local chef at a partner’s home.

For the last part of the summer, I clerked at Liskow’s New Orleans office. I chose Liskow because of its strong environmental regulatory and litigation practice, and while there, I worked on several environmental law projects. For example, I researched and wrote a memo about how a company could be responsible for improper disposal of barge waste by another company. After drafting a memo, I got feedback from attorneys and went through a few rounds of edits before my memo was sent to the client. Having lawyers much more familiar with the field critique my language and organizational structure was especially helpful, because it helped build my substantive knowledge and strengthen my writing skills. And having the memo sent to the client was very rewarding.

Tulane Law | Emily von Qualen (L '16)

At Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, Emily von Qualen (L ’16) honed commercial and environmental litigation skills.

I also worked on general litigation projects, including some on federal and Louisiana Rules of Civil Procedure issues. For example, I researched possible mechanisms for a Louisiana party to compel a non-resident to appear in state court. One highlight of my summer was observing a two-day trial in Thibodaux, Louisiana, in which Liskow represented an oil company seeking easement rights to run a pipeline across the other party’s property. I had seen a trial in federal court the previous summer, but I had never seen one in state court. I really enjoyed observing a different courtroom style and seeing experienced litigators argue.

Outside researching, writing and observing legal practice, I was able to socialize with the attorneys in more relaxed settings. Liskow has coffee time every morning for attorneys to have casual conversations, and it highlighted the firm’s congenial atmosphere. Most days, I went to lunch with a group of attorneys, which was also a great way to get to know them and sample wonderful New Orleans food. In addition to daily social gatherings, Liskow had two main summer events: a cocktail reception at Commander’s Palace and a poker night. Both were great events that most attorneys attended, and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

My summer jobs showed me invaluable perspective on associate life at different firms, gave me hands-on legal experience and confirmed my interest in litigation. After graduation, I will continue to build on my experience as I clerk for Judge Minaldi, a federal district judge in Lake Charles, Louisiana for a year. I will then join Skadden in its Houston office.

Faculty summer adventures

Spent your summer tackling new work projects, stealing a few long-weekends and catching up on your reading list?

Your Tulane Law professors’ summers haven’t been so different from yours. Find out what they’re working on, where they’ve traveled and what must-read books they recommend before school starts back.

Professor Sally Richardson

Prof. Sally Richardson used her Gamm Scholar support to host the first annual Tulane Property Roundtable this spring, where she presented her popular paper "Reframing Ameliorative Waste."

With support as the Gamm Scholar, Prof. Sally Richardson hosted the first annual Tulane Property Roundtable this spring, where she presented her popular paper “Reframing Ameliorative Waste.”

Professor Sally Brown Richardson is one of Tulane Law’s rising-star scholars – and a student favorite in the classroom. This year, she was named the law school’s second
Gordon Gamm Faculty Scholar
, an award that boosts early-career law professors. And the Class of 2015 voted her winner of the Felix Frankfurter Distinguished Teaching Award, the law school’s highest teaching honor.

Over the summer, Richardson filled
her “break” with projects and travel, while finding creative ideas to enjoy New Orleans.

Academic projects:
Richardson’s summer scholarship took her to the Association for Law, Property & Society annual meeting at University of Georgia School of Law, where she presented the first stages of her scholarship rethinking adverse possession. As the core of her research, she plans to survey recent good- and bad-faith property possession cases – which will require reading 2000 appellate decisions during the spring 2016 semester. She presented an early version of her paper at ALPS to get feedback on her methodology from property scholars nationwide.

In June, she traveled to Boston to present her research at the Junior Faculty Forum, a showcase sponsored by Harvard, Stanford and Yale law schools. This year’s conference featured 16 papers selected through national blind judging, and the presenters got feedback from senior scholars from the three sponsor schools, plus University of Pennsylvania and New York, Columbia and Boston universities.

Prof. Sally Richardson walked the Anderson Memorial Bridge, taking in scenic views of the Charles River and Harvard’s campus during the Junior Faculty Forum.

Richardson presented her paper “Reframing Ameliorative Waste,” which focuses on better legal solutions for disputes over alterations of rental property. She said she was delighted to get input from Henry Smith, a Harvard property law expert, and called the workshop “very inspiring and very intellectually rewarding.”

She’s also continuing thought-provoking research on modern couples’ privacy rights, such as whether spouses have a right to read each other’s texts and emails — a particular issue in community property states, where anything created during a marriage is co-owned.

Suggested reading:
Richardson reads extensively on property, civil and comparative law at work, but for vacation, she picks up Victorian literature.

“If it’s a book set in the 1920s or 1930s with a female protagonist, I’m going to read it,” she said.

She scouts the New York Times bestsellers list for new books and recently finished “The Rules of Civility,” which she highly recommends.

“The last 50 pages or so were a bit depressing compared to the preceding 250 pages, but that’s typically what you get with this genre,” she joked.

Next up on her book list: “The Paris Wife” and “The Chaperone.”

Prof. Sally Richardson visited Harvard Law School’s Wasserstein Hall to present “Reframing Ameliorative Waste” at the Junior Faculty Forum.

New Orleans summer coping strategies:
First, hit the pool.

“I’ve actually been swimming early almost every morning at the Reily Center, which I love – although I’m usually the youngest person there at that hour,” Richardson said.

Second, ride a bike. Richardson said she cycles through Audubon Park before swimming most mornings. For a simple, enjoyable route, she recommends riding down St. Charles (which is newly repaved and has ample bike lanes), looping around the park and then heading to Tulane’s campus.

Third, cool off with afternoon cocktails. Richardson recommends the city’s myriad free tasting events. Among her favorite places: Avenue Pub, where she recently sampled inventive ciders, including a pineapple-flavored version; St. James Cheese Company, where foodies can try wine-and-cheese pairings once a month; and Hopper’s Carte des Vins, which holds free Saturday afternoon wine tastings.

“Uptown offers so many options like these and is a wonderful part of town to explore,” she said. “I suggest students take advantage of these opportunities, get outside and go try something new.”

Professor Ann Lipton

The law school’s newest faculty member, Professor Ann Lipton has formidable business and securities law expertise.She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter before he retired, practiced as a securities litigator in New York for more than 11 years and taught at Duke Law School for two years before joining Tulane.

Professor Ann Lipton (pictured with Dean David Meyer) joins the Tulane Law faculty for the fall 2015 semester.

Prof. Ann Lipton (pictured with Dean David Meyer) joins the Tulane Law faculty for the fall 2015 semester.

Transitioning to New Orleans:
After moving to New Orleans in late May, Lipton has spent the bulk of her summer emptying boxes and getting settled – a process to which many incoming Tulane Law students can relate.

“I’ve been unpacking in small doses to make it more manageable, but I still have boxes everywhere despite being here for more than a month already,” she said.

She’s also learning to navigate narrow uptown streets. Lipton said New Orleans driving has been challenging, coming from the wide roads and extensive highways of Durham, North Carolina. After working exclusively in urban areas for the bulk of her career, she learned to drive in Manhattan just two years ago, in preparation for her Duke professorship.

“It’s been an adventure, but I’m finally learning my way around New Orleans,” Lipton said. “The training wheels are off now.”

Academic projects:
When she’s not unpacking and sorting, Lipton has been planning her first class, Business Enterprises, which she’s teaching this fall.

As part of her preparations, she’s picking the casebook by carefully reviewing — in just two months — more than 10 Business Enterprises textbooks and manuals available. She sees it as due diligence to check all the options.

Tulane Law | Prof. Ann Lipton

Prof. Ann Lipton prepares for her first Business Enterprises class at Tulane Law.

She also blogs weekly for Business Law Prof Blog, exploring cutting-edge corporate law and securities regulation developments. (Catch her posts on Saturdays here.)

Lipton she said she’s enjoying getting settled in the Tulane Law community. Weekly faculty lunch seminars have allowed her to discuss her ongoing research along with colleagues’ projects. And she got her first taste of campus life seeing “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane with Professor Catherine Hancock.

“The faculty here have all been very welcoming,” Lipton said. “Being at Tulane has been wonderful so far.”

New Orleans to-do list:
Lipton said she laments not yet getting to explore much of the city, but she knows where she wants to spend some time: “The zoo and aquarium are at the top of my list,” she said. “Absolutely not the insectarium, though!”

Professor Herb Larson

Tulane Law | Siena summer abroad  program

Tulane Siena summer abroad students learn art and cultural property law at University of Siena Facoltà di Giurisprudenz.

As Tulane Law’s international legal programs director, Professor Herb Larson oversees all summer programs abroad. He also leads one of those programs, the Tulane-Siena Institute for International Law, Cultural Heritage & the Arts, where students analyze the law of international art preservation, dealing and protection.

Summer travel adventures:
Larson spent June overseeing and teaching in picturesque Siena, Italy, where Tulane’s summer abroad program explores legal mechanisms for protecting “cultural property” – a broad term encompassing a civilization’s art, architecture and antiquities.

He said it’s a relatively new field focused on two principles: “Cultural property is worth protecting, not only because of its beauty, but also because it’s intrinsically linked to the identity of the people who created it.”

Modern art and cultural property scholarship focuses on preserving objects from a spectrum of threats, including wars, environmental disasters, looting, pollution and degradation over time.

The Siena program, which Larson calls “the best of its kind in the world,” explores the complex, evolving field from competing viewpoints of different stakeholders, such as collectors, museum curators, art dealers, archaeologists and governments. The program is open to law students and graduate students studying art, archaeology, art history and anthropology, plus practicing attorneys.

Larson re-established Tulane’s Italian summer abroad program after a two-year hiatus following Hurricane Katrina. Recognizing international growth in the field, he refocused the program on art and cultural property law.

Tulane Law | Siena summer abroad  program

Prof. Herb Larson directs Tulane’s summer abroad program in Siena – a picturesque, 16th-century town surrounded by historic walls and gates.

This summer, he taught a course on the black art market and co-directed the program with Patty Gerstenblith of DePaul University College of Law, who is President Obama’s appointed chair of the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

“Being in Siena is like living in a museum,” Larson said. “I couldn’t pick a better place to study cultural property, because in Siena, you can see the magical effect of how people can live in the 21st Century in a way that’s compatible with their cultural heritage.”

Tulane Law | Siena summer abroad  program

Students gather outside the Palazzo Publico before touring the Museo Civico and Pinacoteca Nazionale museums and Siena’s Duomo.

The program’s idyllic setting also provided memorable study breaks: Sampling gelato at Piazza del Campo’s bustling cafes; listening to classical music and Italian opera at free concerts; and taking weekend excursions across Tuscany.

Larson said he hadn’t taught the entire Siena program in year, but it didn’t take much convincing to get him back. “If you make me go to Tuscany to be surrounded by art, eat wonderful Italian food and drink wine in a beautiful setting for the month of June, I’ll do it,” he said.

Larson also spent a week vacationing in Portugal with his wife, on a trip designed by Portuguese native Maria Landry, Tulane Law’s assistant director for international and graduate programs.

Academic projects:
Back in New Orleans, Larson has carried on his cultural property scholarship, working on a position paper for The Antiquities Coalition that advocates creating a private right of action to prosecute art theft under the National Stolen Property Act.

Empowering civil litigants to sue and recover for stolen art would bolster the fight against cultural property theft by shifting some of the prosecution burden from already-overloaded law enforcement, he explained.

Siena program students explore Tuscany's best sights, food and culture on weekend trips to surrounding towns.

Siena program students explore Tuscany’s best sights, food and culture on weekend trips to surrounding towns.

Suggested reading:
Larson’s recommendation continues the stolen-art theme: “The Lady in Gold,” a nonfiction account of a woman’s fight to recover paintings stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II, including a Gustav Klimt portrait of her aunt. The story was adapted into a movie, “The Woman in Gold,” starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.

“It’s a great read for any law student, because the lawyer is actually the hero in the end,” Larson said.

Spring 2015 highlights

Happy summer, and congratulations to the Tulane Law Class of 2015!

It’s only been one week since Commencement, and we’re already missing our students at Weinmann Hall. But as we reflect on a spring semester packed with one-of-a-kind experiences and celebrations, spanning events such as the Summit on Environmental Law & Policy to Thank You Thursdays, we’re prouder than ever to be part of the Tulane Law community. And we can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Click the thumbnails below to view them as full images.

PS: Don’t be strangers! Share your summer experiences with us on social media using #TulaneLawSummer.

Maritime program channels hands-on training and professional connections

Tulane’s globally preeminent Maritime Law program offers a powerful combination of specialized coursework and practical skills-building. Maritime law students can take classes taught by industry leaders and world-renowned faculty; network with attorneys at admiralty events throughout New Orleans; and tackle researching, writing and editing scholarly articles for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal, one of the nation’s top-cited maritime publications.

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Matthew Drennan (LLM ’15) shares his research for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal with practitioners at Liskow & Lewis.

What’s more, Tulane’s maritime journal provides expanding opportunities to send students into the field and gain real-world experience with practitioners.

For the past four semesters, the Tulane Maritime Law Journal has partnered with the American Bar Association to feature student writing at a public presentation sponsored by the Liskow & Lewis firm in New Orleans.

The event, made possible through the Admiralty & Maritime Law Committee of the ABA’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, lets students share their scholarship with practicing attorneys.

“It’s a great opportunity to make collegial connections with maritime practitioners, which can be invaluable in the job hunt — especially for journal members looking to practice maritime law in the Gulf South,” said Michael Gaines (L ’16), who presented his case note in March.

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Claire Galley (L ’16) chats with maritime attorneys and students after presenting her case note.

Claire Galley (L ’16) said she plans to use video of her presentation as a “speaking sample” for potential employers to gauge her public-speaking skills.

“The presentation series allows students to interact with local practitioners working in the areas they’re writing about and showcase their research in a non-academic setting,” said Bryan Kitz (L ’15), the Tulane Maritime Law Journal’s outgoing editor in chief.

Maritime journal members can also gain specialized advocacy training by getting involved in the annual Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition. Though organized by the University of Texas School of Law, the event travels to a different law school each year; Tulane Law is set to host it in 2017. The Maritime Law Association of the United States co-sponsors the competition.

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Tulane Law students celebrate moot court wins at Charleston’s Marion Square. Back row: Scott Ferrier (L ’16), Kyle Brennan (LLM ’15), Noah Grillo (L ’15) and Alana Riksheim (L ’16). Front row: Laura Beck (L ’15), Taylor Coley and Rob Adams (both L ’16).

Tulane sent two teams to this year’s competition at Charleston School of Law. The team of Noah Grillo (L’15), Scott Ferrier and Alana Riksheim (both L ’16) placed third out of 22 teams, while Kyle Brennan (LLM ’15), Rob Adams and Taylor Coley (both L ’16) finished ninth.

Competitors researched and drafted appellate briefs on current maritime issues and argued both sides of their cases, then received practical pointers from attorneys, academics and members of the judiciary who volunteered as judges.

“It was a great lesson on the subjective nature of the legal profession and the importance of tailoring arguments and presentations to a specific person,” Grillo said. “I now feel much more ready to present my ideas and arguments to a sometimes adversarial audience.”

Riksheim said she “found it particularly rewarding to see how much better we got stylistically, thanks to the judges’ feedback.”

Laura Beck (L ’15), who served in the U.S. Merchant Marine before starting law school, coached Tulane’s teams with input from professors, local maritime attorneys and Coast Guard members.

Tulane Maritime Law Journal and the Judge John R. Brown competition are great ways to prepare for becoming a lawyer,” Beck said. “The competition is on the leading edge of current maritime issues. It’s a great experience to be part of something with such a rich history and current application.”

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Tulane’s maritime moot court teams visit Charleston’s historic U.S. Custom House after arguing in the Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition.

Dual degrees open far-reaching possibilities for Tulane Law alumni: Part three

Though a JD degree can lead to an array of practice areas – from securities to sports law, environmental to energy law – students focused on specialized fields can use Tulane’s dual-degree programs to open more doors in traditional practice and beyond. In four years, students can earn a JD combined with a graduate degree in another field, yielding deeper expertise and broader career opportunities.

In Lagniappe’s final dual-degrees feature, meet identical-twin brothers who paired their JDs with MBAs and now are tax attorneys for leading national corporations, one in-house and the other as outside counsel.

Law + Master of Business Administration: Brian Page

As an undergraduate student, Brian Page (L/MBA ’09) aimed toward a career in politics. But that ambition waned after he completed internships in the field and earned a political science degree, so he took an alternate path. He refocused on law and business and enrolled in Tulane’s combined program.

His path veered again when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast just days into his first year of graduate studies. Brian’s apartment flooded, ruining everything he owned. When Tulane’s classes reconvened in January after a semester’s hiatus, he faced a less-than-ideal situation for studying: living in temporary housing, having to replace all his possessions and attending a condensed lineup of classes.

Despite the challenges, Brian tackled the JD/MBA program’s demands, focusing on tax and finance classes, working on the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law and finishing in fewer than four years. (His twin brother, Rich, joined him in Tulane’s dual JD/MBA track in 2006.)

Tulane Law | Dual Degrees | Rich Page & Brian Page

Rich and Brian Page earned joint Tulane JD and MBA degrees within one year of each other and are both practicing as business and tax attorneys. All photos courtesy of Rich and Brian Page.

Brian’s hard work paid off. He landed an internship with ExxonMobil during school that turned into a coveted career opportunity after graduation: working in-house for a major energy corporation. Brian, who went on to earn an LLM in tax from New York University School of Law, worked at ExxonMobil’s locations in Fairfax, Virginia and Houston before taking on his current role as a tax attorney at the company’s worldwide headquarters outside Dallas.

Lagniappe: Why did you pursue dual degrees?

Brian: My main motivation was curiosity. I was interested in both fields, and I wanted to learn about both business and law, so the program seemed like the perfect fit for me. I majored in political science in college and had internships focused on politics, but I discovered that I wasn’t as interested in that area as I originally thought I was. In the end, I felt drawn more to law and business.

Lagniappe: What was your experience in the two programs?

Brian: I focused closely on finance at the business school and thought it was a great program. . . . I took many tax law classes at Tulane Law and also some real estate law classes. . . . Overall, I found that the two programs really reinforced each other, and I was able to pick up a strong understanding of both fields.

Lagniappe: How did you balance the two programs?

Brian: It was very busy! You have to really learn to manage your time and be prepared to not have a lot of spare time for certain stretches, especially because many of the JD/MBA students end up taking two or three more credits per semester than students in just one program.

I also should mention that I did the whole program in three-and-a-half years. I got to Tulane in August 2005, right before Hurricane Katrina, went back in January 2006 and graduated in May 2009. In the hurricane, I lost everything – all my possessions. My apartment was destroyed in the storm, was later looted and had mold growing over everything. I had to live on a cruise ship for my first month back at law school. And after all of that, just two-and-a-half years later, I was interning with ExxonMobil, the largest publicly-traded company in the world. It shows you that you really have to count your blessings and not count yourself out sometimes. You have to keep trying even when things are difficult, because something really good could be right around the corner.

Lagniappe: What are some of the benefits you’ve gained from your dual degrees?

Tulane Law | Dual degrees | Brian Page

Brian Page (L/MBA ’09) accepted the 2012 Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono President’s Award on behalf of ExxonMobil. The award recognized the company for its pro bono service to low-income Houston residents.

Brian: One thing I definitely find is that my background has helped me be quicker at analyzing complex material.  I’m often working closely on business projects with financial spreadsheets or calculations . . . all of which can be more complicated than you’d initially imagine. I think I grasp those things more quickly than some of my peers who just went to law school and didn’t study finance.

Also, a lot of law school is based solely on your exams at the end of each semester, but business school focuses more on teamwork and presentation skills. As an in-house attorney, I’ve drawn on those skills considerably when giving presentations and participating in meetings. . . . The skills you’re forced to learn coincide very well with what it’s like to work in a big corporation.

I think it also helps in terms of being relatable to people or connecting with folks. As an attorney, so many of your clients have gone to business school, whether it’s in an undergraduate or MBA program. With the group I’m in now, I’m working very closely with 20 MBA graduates. So the fact that I also did that program means I can relate better to them and know what they know. It’s really valuable from a connections standpoint.

Lagniappe: What advice would you give students considering dual degrees?

Brian: I think the sooner, the better to focus on one area for employment if you’re in a dual-degree program. If you target one thing, you can become really focused on that area of law. I think that allows you to get internships, learn about the industry to know what you’re getting into and be more well-informed about the job opportunities available. It’s also a good signaling mechanism to employers, showing what your primary interest is in. For the most part, while it can be tempting to switch around and explore different areas, I think it’s better if you can choose earlier on. . . .

More generally, I think the program is really valuable. It’s an extra year of school, so you’re not working or earning a salary as soon as you could be, and the opportunity cost seems expensive. But you have 30+ years to work, and the skill sets you build and benefits you gain from being better-rounded will easily make up for the initial expense, so I think it’s certainly worth pursuing.

Law + Master of Business Administration: Rich Page

Rich Page (BA ’04, L/MBA ’10) says he has “an insatiable appetite for learning.” His five degrees back that up: BA in political science from Tulane University; MPP from the University of Chicago; JD/MBA from Tulane; and LLM in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center.

The New Jersey native says he actually considered going for a PhD after earning his master of public policy. But he instead opted for the JD/MBA combination after weighing the broader practical and professional benefits.

And when selecting law and business schools, Rich quickly decided on Tulane — where he’d completed undergraduate studies and where his brother, Brian, also was studying in the JD/MBA track. After enrolling, Rich balanced both schools’ course loads while serving on the Tulane Law Review.

Tulane Law | Dual degrees | Rich Page

Rich Page (BA ’04, L/MBA ’10) holds five degrees — three from Tulane — counsels clients on the tax impact of business transactions and investments at Akin Gump’s New York office.

Now practicing tax law in the New York office of law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Rich says his joint legal and business background help him serve his clients’ diverse and complex needs. Before joining Akin Gump, he worked with Deloitte and Ernst & Young, two of the world’s prestigious “Big Four” professional services firms.

Lagniappe: Why did you decide to pursue dual degrees?

Rich: I knew I wanted to go into professional services, and I didn’t see law and business as entirely separate. I figured if I ended up focusing most of my career working on the business side, I’d want to have a firm understanding of the law, and, alternatively, if I ended up working full-time as an attorney, I would want to have a deep understanding of the business world, how people there think and what formal training they have received. . . .

I should also add that I have an insatiable appetite for learning. I had very seriously considered going for a PhD, and the JD/MBA was the alternative for me. One thing I considered when deciding, was that, from a practical standpoint, the JD/MBA would open many more doors career-wise. I also saw it as a much more powerful learning opportunity than a PhD. The information you learn in the JD/MBA is generally much more applicable to everyday life.

Lagniappe: What drew you to Tulane’s program?

Rich: I was tired of the cold winters in Chicago [where I earned my master of public policy], but I also really enjoyed my time at Tulane. I missed New Orleans, and I knew that Tulane has highly reputable business and law programs, which not every school has. Additionally, I had the unique situation that my identical twin brother was pursuing combined Tulane JD and MBA degrees at the same time, and he thought it would be fun if I joined him.

Lagniappe: What was your experience in the dual-degree program?

Tulane Law | Dual degrees | Rich Page & Brian Page

The Page brothers spent three years together at Tulane studying law and business — and enjoying New Orleans.

Rich: I thought it was a very good combination, because business and law are very closely related. Oftentimes, I had business classmates asking me legal questions when something about contracts came up in our business courses, and I also had law school classmates asking me business questions about things like finance and investments.

Also, both programs focus on writing and communicating clearly, which I thought was great. Even as a law student, you can benefit from taking courses at the business school about public speaking and business communications.

Lagniappe: How do you think your combined degrees have helped in your career?

Rich: The degrees have definitely helped. I’ve actually had clients and prospective clients who have been directly interested in engaging someone who has a joint legal and business background. One of the largest engagements I worked on at Deloitte was with management consultants on-site at a Fortune 100 company, where the client specifically requested that someone with a law degree join Deloitte’s team there. So I was specifically sought out to work as a business consultant within the general counsel’s office of a major company, which I did for about six months.

I also have a prospective client who is the CEO of a family business that has about $30 million in annual revenue, and he has said he wants me to be his point person directing all of his professional services. He’s not seeking someone who’s just an attorney or a business advisor. He really likes my comprehensive background, because he’s seeking both legal and business advice. He wants someone to look at the entire scope of his international business operations, give him advice from A to Z and help him identify other professional service providers he might need.

Lagniappe: Do you have any advice for students considering dual degrees?

Rich: For the JD/MBA or any other dual-degree program, I wouldn’t focus exclusively on short-term career benefits. The degrees very well may help you in terms of short-term job placement, but I would also think of it as an educational pursuit and a long-term investment in yourself, your personal knowledge and your career.

Dual degrees open far-reaching possibilities for Tulane Law alumni: Part two

New law students may be counting down the days until they can choose their courses as upperclassmen and explore a wide range of legal topics. But they may not realize they can broaden their studies even further by adding onto their JD degrees.

Tulane’s dual-degree programs equip students with invaluable skills and opportunities to excel in specialized career paths — by earning a JD with another graduate degree in only four years. From the JD/MSW to the JD/MA in Latin American Studies, dual degrees open doors in traditional legal practice and far beyond.

Lagniappe’s second dual-degrees installment features a grad who’s aiming for a career in national health policy and joined her JD with a Master of Health Administration.

Law + Master of Health Administration: K.T. Kramer

K.T. Kramer (L/MHA ’14) started with a clear vision for grad school: earn a master’s in public health to learn strategies for improving international health systems. But her path shifted while she was working for the Peace Corps, when she realized she needed to understand the law in order to shape meaningful policy. She decided on dual JD and MPH degrees and enrolled at Tulane.

Shortly after she signed on, though, her course veered again. She switched to a combined JD and MHA track so she could learn to navigate increasingly complex health systems in the U.S.

Tulane Law | Dual degrees | KT Kramer

K.T. Kramer and Leif Brierley, this year’s two David A. Winston Health Policy Fellows, are both working on Capitol Hill for the final months of their fellowships. All photos courtesy of K.T. Kramer.

K.T. successfully juggled the demands of both programs at Tulane. During school, she investigated employee benefit claims while working at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ New Orleans office; was active in the Public Interest Law Foundation and the Disability and Health Law Society; and analyzed municipal health laws as an extern with the City of New Orleans’ Health Department.

After graduation, the West Virginia native began a yearlong program as one of only two David A. Winston Health Policy Fellows. The Winston Fellowship is a national postgraduate program based in D.C. During the program, fellows rotate through meetings with national health care insiders over three months, then work at full-time health policy placements for the remainder of the year.

As part of the prestigious and highly selective program, K.T. has met with more than 200 health executives and policy leaders to learn the industry from the inside and is now working with Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, in Washington, D.C.

Lagniappe: Why did you go for dual degrees?

K.T.: I decided to look at joint-degree programs while a Peace Corps volunteer in Turkmenistan. When I started Peace Corps, my future plan was to get an MPH and work in global public health programs. However, while in Turkmenistan, I became much more interested in understanding how health systems as articulated in laws, regulations and policies are translated into people accessing health care and services. . . . But I realized I didn’t understand the language of the applicable law, and I needed to become proficient in that to be able to make real changes in health care, so I decided to earn a JD as well . . .

When I returned to the U.S. in 2010, I initially enrolled in the JD/MPH program, but I realized after the passage of the Affordable Care Act that the same questions of how to translate law into a real health system were present in the U.S. I transferred to the MHA program because I wanted to get a stronger understanding of the U.S. health system.

Lagniappe: What was your experience like in the JD/MHA program?

Tulane Law | Dual degrees | KT Kramer

K.T. (far left) attends the 2015 Winston Fellowship Health Policy Ball, the fellowship’s primary fundraiser.

K.T.: I think, like any student that goes to Tulane, I can say that I had a wonderful experience. It was undeniably challenging to balance the demands of both programs academically and practically . . . . But, I gained substantial subject matter knowledge in both law and health administration, made great friends, had great opportunities to gain practical experience as a student and got to live in New Orleans for four years!

Lagniappe: What was your impression of the program overall? 

K.T.: I think the JD/MHA provided complementary skill sets that were very helpful. . . . [the] combination gave me a strong background that could prepare me for a career in health care, health law or health policy.

In particular, the practical aspects of the MHA program – the site visits, the public speaking and the terrifying accounting assignments – were a valuable addition to the law school curriculum. If I pursue health law in any capacity, knowing how to read financial statements and present information to managers will be helpful.

Tulane Law | Dual degrees | KT Kramer

Through her fellowship, K.T. (pictured at the White House with Leif Brierley) has explored D.C. and mastered the role of a Hill staffer – researching and analyzing legislation, organizing hearings and completing briefings.

Lagniappe: How do you think your dual degrees have helped prepare you for your career? 

K.T.: I’m currently a health policy fellow, working for Sen. Alexander on the HELP committee, where I staff issues related to the Affordable Care Act, Food and Drug Administration and Public Health Service Act. The joint degree gives me credibility in terms of both law and health care. I was much more familiar with the breadth of issues that I work with on the committee from the start because I learned a lot of the subject matter.

Second, as I am realizing now as I search for my next position, the joint degree provided me with a much richer alumni network. And, particularly from the MHA perspective, they are in my field. Tulane’s alumni are fantastic and always willing to be helpful, so it’s incredibly valuable to have those helpful people in the industry that I want to work in.

Lagniappe: How would you describe the benefits of a dual degree to prospective students?

K.T.: In general, for all the dual degrees, I’d say that seeing both sides and being able to read a regulation or law and understand how to talk about it in the industry you’re working in is an incredibly valuable skill . . . having a more targeted education, you get the understanding of how to talk about legal implications in ways that make sense to the people you’re working with, whether they’re clients or co-workers in a legal organization. . . . Also, when you know you’re interested in a particular subject area and can learn how to talk about the applicable laws for that field, a joint degree is really helpful.

Lagniappe: What’s next for you?

K.T.: My health policy fellowship will wind up in June. Now, as I’m searching [future] positions, I’m considering all the options: do I want to have typical legal career working for a firm or government office where I work with health care clients, and what are the options there? Do I want to stay in a more policy-focused role, stay on the hill and work with any of the number of think tanks or lobbying organizations here? Or do I want to go to a private company? I have lots of questions to be answered. But having a double Tulane alumni network is very helpful in that regard, and I’m sure it will come into play. There’s something about being from Tulane that makes people very excited to meet you. They’re a very energetic and active group of alumni . . . it’s a great resource.