Student-attorney snags win in red snapper case

With her final year of law school approaching, Michelle Felterman (L ’17) last summer agreed with her father on graduation gift: a charter-fishing excursion.

So it was serendipitous when the first case she undertook as a student-attorney in Tulane’s Environmental Law Clinic had her representing the Charter Fisherman’s Association in its effort to uphold a rule on red snapper fishing quotas in federal waters.

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic student-attorney Michelle Felterman (L ’17) secured a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of her client, the Charter Fisherman’s Association.

Felterman argued the CFA’s position before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2016, and on Jan. 17, the court ruled 3-0 in favor of her client.

“The clinics are about learning by doing and representing actual clients, and that’s what we did here,” said Professor Adam Babich, Environmental Law Clinic director. “We also serve a public interest to help represent people who would find it difficult to pay for it otherwise.”

The CFA came to the clinic in early 2014 to intervene in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Commerce Department by a nonprofit group representing recreational anglers, such as private boat owners. The charter fishermen, who are hired to take people fishing, wanted to keep the regulation the other group opposed. While the legal arguments centered on a government agency’s interpretation and enforcement, the case boiled down to the competing interests of different groups of anglers over access to limited numbers of red snapper.

In 2015, Alison Dunbar (L ’16), then a clinic student-attorney, argued for the CFA in U.S. District Court, which later ruled in the group’s favor. But that decision was appealed, which led to Felterman’s chance at appearing in the 5th Circuit for her first-ever court argument.

Felterman came to the case with appropriate scientific background, having studied the impact of commercial fishing on alligator gar off the Louisiana coast. But she had to immerse herself not just in the case details and the law but also the art of preparing for appellate court.

On argument day, a Justice Department attorney presented the government’s case. Felterman then told the three-judge panel about the real-world impact on “small businessmen trying to make a living.”

When she finished and Chief Judge Carl Stewart welcomed her to the court, she said, “I think at that point is when I started breathing again.”

Tulane’s new experiential learning director has immigration law expertise

Professor Laila Hlass, Tulane Law’s new director of experiential learning, said she found working with children through an immigration clinic the “most meaningful part of my law school experience.”

Professor Laila Hlass, an experienced clinical instructor and immigration law specialist, is Tulane Law’s new director of experiential learning.

Because the work proved so formative, most of her career since then has involved helping immigrants with legal needs and teaching law students to assist vulnerable populations.

A talented clinical instructor — she most recently was director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Boston University School of Law — Hlass joined the Tulane Law faculty in January. Already-growing interest in immigration law then exploded because of the Trump administration’s executive orders temporarily barring citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
She’s become a sought-after authority on immigration law while undertaking her new role as Tulane Law’s director of experiential learning.

“It’s a really important time for experiential education,” said Hlass, who’s also a professor of the practice.

Law firms, nonprofit agencies, clients increasingly expect new graduates to be practice-ready, and students are eager to put their classroom learning to work. In 2016, Tulane Law drew its array of skills-training offerings under a single umbrella with pro bono and public interest partnerships to better integrate opportunities for students to prepare for their careers. Associate Dean Stacy Seicshnaydre (L ’92), a former Civil Litigation Clinic director, heads the team.

“We want to expand the program to ensure that all students have opportunities that align with their areas of interest and to ensure that there’s enough academic rigor and support,” Hlass said.

She grew up in Long Beach, Mississippi, then attended Rice University in Houston. She received her JD from Columbia Law School and an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center, where she supervised students in a legal clinic working with asylum-seekers facing court hearings.
She also spent four years at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, where she assisted in supervising clinic students and pro bono attorneys representing immigrants in state and immigration courts, as well as teaching refugee law.

At that time, just a few years ago, Louisiana nonprofit groups had only a handful of attorneys handling immigration cases statewide, she said. The number of attorneys has multiplied, but still there aren’t enough attorneys to serve that population, she said.

“Professor Hlass brings a wonderful combination of academic credentials, immigration practice background, clinical teaching experience, national networks dedicated to experiential learning and deep ties to the New Orleans public interest community,” Seicshnaydre said. “I think we can expect that she will be a dynamic, productive and engaged director of experiential learning.”

Students get close-ups with federal appellate judges

Each year, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turns Tulane Law School’s Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room into a federal courtroom, holding a round of arguments in cases currently before the court. This year’s sitting was March 7, and the three-judge panel consisted of Judges James L. Dennis, Jacques L. Wiener Jr. (L ’61) and Catharina Haynes.

The annual event allows students to listen to arguments and see judges appellate lawyers at work. Select students also are invited to lunch with the judges after the arguments. It’s an opportunity to learn and connect, especially for students interested in federal court clerkships.

Here, the judges joined members of the Tulane Chapter of the Federal Bar Association:
Shaun Abreu, Clerc Cooper (both L ’18), Sarah Smith-Clevenger (L ’17), Benjamin de Seingalt (L ’19), Tex Steinfeldt (L ’18), Judges Jacques L. Wiener Jr. (L ’61), James L. Dennis and Catharina Haynes, Michelle Sloss (L ’19), Jay Jensen, Claris Smith (both L ’18) and Laura Sunday (L ’19).

 

First-year law students build business savvy

On Day One, the law students plunged into value chains, business models and corporate financial statements. Over a week of team exercises and working lunches, they explored funding mechanisms, merger pitfalls, client service and risk management. On the fifth day, they pitched an airline’s corporate board on acquiring a competitor — and faced grilling over such details as meshing cultures, dealing with potential layoffs, combining fleets and marketing to a new audience.
Tulane Law School’s new Business Literacy boot camp for first-year students packed an introduction to the business world into an intensive week that wove expert presentations with case studies, group assignments and discussions with business executives.

To cap off an intensive week of Business Literacy boot camp, first-year Tulane Law students Charlie Draughter, with teammates Katie Dye (top left), Joslyn Love and Benjamin Drew (front), pitch the sale of an airline to a mock corporate board that included former JetBlue CFO Mark Powers (below).

A collaboration between the law school and Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, the new course launched in January with an airline purchase as its first real-world scenario. To provide real-world insights, recently retired JetBlue Chief Financial Officer Mark Powers, who is teaching financial management at the business school, lectured on the industry and served as a “board member” for the final presentations. Students also heard from Trey Fayard, chief executive officer of GLO Airlines, the regional start-up operating out of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Airport, and Gay Le Breton, managing director of Chaffe & Associates’ mergers and acquisitions group.
“I loved being able to dive into an industry that I knew little about,” said Katie Dye (L ’19), who has an anthropology degree and was among the 42 1Ls who took the course. “Being able to pitch the acquisition of Virgin America by JetBlue to the former CFO of JetBlue, who actually worked on the deal in real life, was phenomenal.”
Powers said students were thrown in “on the deep end” but picked up the material quickly and showed skill, talent and confidence in making presentations not unlike what he was doing before his own board not long ago.
“I was impressed with how they were able to come together as teams and put together a compelling pitch and pick the right issues,” he said.
Vice Dean Onnig Dombalagian, who helped design the program, said a key goal was helping students “think about why their clients make the decisions they do.”

Vice Dean Onnig Dombalagian helped develop and teach Tulane Law’s new Business Literacy boot camp, a collaboration with the A.B. Freeman School of Business.

Law school classes typically focus on how lawyers can advance their clients’ interests. And other skills-building offerings, such as Tulane’s Intersession boot camp for second- and third-year students, cover the mechanics of drafting business documents and closing deals. Trial advocacy teaches litigation tools. But a course that puts law students in the role of business consultant helps them see pressures and opportunities from the client’s perspective, Dombalagian said.

SEE A PHOTO ALBUM FROM THE COURSE
The course accepts only first-year students with no business background and aims to help them sort out potential career interests. 
“I learned that there is far more to the legal practice in a business setting than just drafting contracts,” Dye said.
Business Literacy, which runs the same week in early January as Tulane Law’s upper-level boot camp, has further expanded the growing business law curriculum. Other offerings featuring premier corporate attorneys as instructors include a business planning course taught by John Herbert (L ’77), outside general counsel to Ceritas Energy, and a new contract drafting class with Lee Sher (L ’76), a top transactions lawyer and co-founder of Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert.

Grace Hancock and Ben Russell (both L ’19) make their final presentation on an airline sale proposal.

Douglas McKeige (L ’86) and other alumni are working with the school to develop and financially support programs like this to provide a working knowledge of areas including corporate finance, securities markets, balance sheets, income statements and private equity. McKeige formerly managed both a leading securities litigation firm and a major hedge fund before founding his own investor-litigation boutique, The McKeige Law Firm.
Tulane Law Clinical Instructor Elizabeth Calderón (L ’98) said that, in helping design the Business Literacy course, she called on her experience going into commercial bankruptcy and restructuring practice directly out of law school without a business background. With this foundation, students are a step ahead as they prepare for summer jobs and careers after graduation.
“What I really want for them is to start learning a language that they can use when they’re engaging with potential employers and potential clients,” Calderón said.

Tulane Law grad steers NBA D-League’s Grand Rapids Drive

Professionals from across the National Basketball Association, in New Orleans for the All-Star Game, gave Tulane University students a behind-the-scenes view of the league Feb. 17. But the most picture-perfect perspective came from Tulane Law alum Jon Phelps, a 2012 graduate who’s already risen to general manager of the Grand Rapid Drive, the NBA Development League team of the Detroit Pistons.

Jon Phelps (L ’12), general manager of the Grand Rapid Drive in the NBA Development League, advises Tulane students on landing a job in pro ball during a day of All-Star Game-related panels Feb. 17.

Phelps enrolled at Tulane for the Sports Law program and took the classes required for a Sports Law certificate, including antitrust, intellectual property and labor law. He also served as a research assistant for Professor , director of the program, and a nationally known authority on some of the high-profile issues in the industry.
When both the NBA and the National Football League had player lockouts during Phelps’ second year, he said, “my classmates and I were able to study many of the legal issues surrounding these professional sports leagues in real time,” he said.
During his third year, he was symposium editor for the Tulane Law Review’s symposium issue on the role of antitrust law and labor law in shaping the landscape of professional and intercollegiate sports.

Professor Gabe Feldman (far right) leads a discussion with Jason Hillman, Cleveland Cavaliers senior vice president and general counsel, Ben Lauritsen, Portland Trailblazers senior vice president, and Melissa Goldenberg, Phoenix Suns general counsel.

His first job after graduation was a two-year stint at New Orleans civil litigation firm Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore, where he focused primarily on scientific expert witnesses in cases involving complex medical device claims. But in 2014, the Grand Rapids Drive was hiring in its basketball operations department, and Tulane graduate Andrew Loomis (TC ’02) encouraged Phelps to apply.
As director of basketball operations for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, Phelps handled tasks from washing team uniforms, organizing team travel and driving players to and from practice in a 15-passenger van, to helping prepare for the draft and scouting opposing players for potential trades and NBA call-ups.
“Because the staffs in the D-League are smaller, everyone has to do a little bit of everything to help out, and so I got exposure to how a D-League team is organized and how it should be run,” he said.
Phelps was promoted to Drive general manager in summer of 2016 and now manages the staff, scouts, handles personnel work and generally oversees the operation, regularly updating the Pistons on the team’s progress.

Bleacher Report writer Jonathan Abrams (center) describes his route to becoming an NBA beat writer, along with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report (left) and Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver.

“I absolutely love my job and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity that I have,” Phelps said. “The D-League is the best place for me to learn, grow and develop, and I’m hopeful that I continue to get the opportunity to help run our team in Grand Rapids.”
The Feb. 17 panels, sponsored by Tulane University, Tulane Law, the Sports Law program and the English Department, drew students from across campus. Phelps’ advice for breaking into the league was straightforward: “Position yourself.”
Get experience in the field you want to work in. Show potential employers the kind of work you’ve done. Demonstrate ways in which you can add value to a franchise.
“Teams are going to assume you are passionate, hard-working and very intelligent, as are the hundreds of other people applying for the same sports-related job,” he said. “Taking the time to try to answer a question facing the organization, or putting together a project that demonstrates your understanding of the league as a whole can give you an edge to stand out.”

From New Delhi to New Orleans: A journey with Bob Marley

By Divesh Kaul
(Divesh Kaul, a trained lawyer from India, has taught in Bhutan and India and worked in the nonprofit sector. He completed an LLM at Tulane Law School in 2016. Unwilling to put New Orleans behind him yet, he now is pursuing an SJD with a focus on international economic law. He hopes to work in that area and/or in human rights. Here’s why he wanted to continue at Tulane Law.)

Ooh, yeah! All right! We’re jammin’, I wanna jam it with you, and I hope you like jammin’, too.

After my long flight from India, this Bob Marley song playing in a taxi was first music I heard upon my arrival in New Orleans in July 2015.

Divesh Kaul (LLM '16) now is studying for a Tulane Law SJD.

Divesh Kaul (LLM ’16) now is studying for a Tulane Law SJD.

The Haitian driver, Victorien, was taking me to Tulane University, which would be my home for the next year. During the half-hour drive, Victorien shared his ordeals in Haiti, where he had been a police officer, and how happy he was to be living in New Orleans with his family. His eyes glimmered while he drove and joyfully described his experiences in New Orleans. Marley meanwhile sang in the background:

‘Cos every day we pay the price with a little sacrifice, jammin’ till the jam is through.

I stayed in Tulane’s student housing for a week while searching for an apartment. It was there that I met Fakrul, a graduate student from Bangladesh, who was also looking for an apartment to rent. Thanks to the law school’s orientation session for LLM students, I found my two other futures housemates, Nicholas from Bolivia and Zhang Chao from China. Four of us decided to move into an apartment that was a 15-minute walk from the campus. It turned out that the day we moved in, July 30, was the same day that Bob Marley & the Wailers had visited New Orleans in 1978 during the “Kaya Tour,” where they sang in a concert at The Warehouse:

Exodus! movement of Jah people … we’re leaving Babylon … are you satisfied with the life you’re living? we know where we’re going, we know where we’re from.

An apartment shared among four Tulane students from four different nationalities was no less than a culinary delight. The sharing was not limited to numerous collective meals. The Bolivian housemate became a fan of Bollywood films. My Chinese and Bangladeshi housemates enjoyed free haircuts given by me. Our umpteen household discussions ranged from cultural stereotypes to funny anecdotes, from theology to national issues and from quotidian matters to interdisciplinary discourses. Also, Zhang Chao issued us a travel advisory for his country when we learnt that wearing a green hat in China meant one’s wife was unfaithful!

Tulane Law LLM and international students for 2015-16 gather in the courtyard.

Tulane Law LLM and international students for 2015-16 gather in the courtyard.

I reached Tulane a month before the fall semester began, but as international students we already were busy. The orientation was intensive, but daily interactions with the LLM and exchange students from 39 different nationalities and the blossoming of numerous friendships made it the most enjoyable period. For every international student in our LLM batch, studying in an American law school was a new venture. Some had left their countries for the first time. Some never wrote an exam on computer before. Others came from a non-common law background.

Each one of us had apprehensions. Even so, we realized that each one of us had some strengths, too. The LLM students sat together in smaller congenial groups in study rooms, the students lounge, Tulane University’s LBC student center or elsewhere and had the longest discussions on law topics. In the process, we became each other’s strengths while we helped each other prevail over the academic barriers. During one such group discussion, James, one of my batch-mates from Zimbabwe, told me that 35 years earlier, in April 1980, when his country won independence, India’s then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, visited their country and participated in their independence celebrations. That year, 1980, was also the year Marley performed his last “Uprising Tour,” and he sang on the eve of Zimbabwean independence:

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny … so arms in arms, with arms we will fight this little struggle ’cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Kaul traveled to New York City among other locations during his first year in New Orleans.

Kaul traveled to New York City among other locations during his first year in New Orleans.

The welcome lunch offered by Dean David Meyer and his wife, Professor Amy Gajda, at their residence was a great celebration of our new beginnings. I also fondly cherish Professor Herb Larson and his wife, Julianne, greeting and treating us a couple of times at their Edwardian house equipped with a magnificent piano and a large antique mahogany dining table.
The fall and spring sessions progressed at full steam, with LLM and JD students shoulder to shoulder marching across the corridors, rushing from one class to another, sneaking in to symposia and seminars, reading endless black legal letters in the library and making outlines, conversing in the student lounge filled with the aroma of dark roast coffee and working for law reviews.

Tulane Law LLMs got in the New Orleans spirit for Halloween.

Tulane Law LLMs got in the New Orleans spirit for Halloween.

Despite the strenuous schedule, never-ending readings and memorandums, students managed to balance law school with family, work and — most certainly — leisure. Some went together to watch the latest flick, others preferred a weekend drink at a bar. Students visited the legendary French Quarter, saw the Halloween parade and took part in celebrating New Year’s Eve. Law school and students’ associations also performed their sets of rituals, including organizing formal balls and pizza parties. The Mardi Gras parades in February were a centerpiece of the New Orleans experience. The celebrations coinciding with the 71st birth anniversary of Bob Marley were icing on the cake. One night, after experiencing the extensive parades in the French Quarter, we righteously grabbed some coke and rums at Café Negril on Frenchmen Street, where the live band sang:

You’re gonna lively up yourself and don’t be no drag, you lively up yourself and don’t say no … you rock so like you never did before … be alive today!

While we progressed in our graduate study in law, Tulane and New Orleans suitably embraced us with open arms and let us live like never before. I learnt a lot about America’s evolution through various civil and political struggles and how law contributed in them. The 14th Amendment and cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges have been some of the legal landmarks instrumental in America’s shaping. During a day tour to the Whitney Plantation Museum of Slavery, our tour guide quoted Marcus Garvey: “the man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.” Prejudice and suppression have prevailed in all nations and among all races, and slavery exists even today in many forms, the guide observed.

Bob Marley, too, was influenced by Garvey’s speech in Nova Scotia in October 1937 when he wrote the “Redemption Song”:

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds … won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom.

Humanity, nonetheless, has come a long way ahead from the “separate but equal” doctrine, segregation laws and colonialism. I have also learned that music has been one of the tools of liberation from suffering and poverty. In Kingston, Bob Marley found it through reggae. In New Orleans, Louis Armstrong found it through jazz.

Kaul and friends celebrated the conclusion of their LLM year with a cruise.

Kaul and friends celebrated the conclusion of their LLM year with a cruise.

No doubt my learnings at Tulane were more than academic. I discerned a portrayal of various national characters from my LLM batch-mates such as Italian enthusiasm, German compassion, Greek resilience, Irish wittiness, Chinese humility, Bolivian wisdom, Turkish generosity, Panamanian boldness, Nigerian calmness, Zimbabwean contentedness, Venezuelan perseverance, Albanian forthrightness and American openness. I must admit that I learnt the correct way to practice meditation through the ancient Indian tradition of Yoga only after attending Professor Keith Werhan’s “mindful lawyering” sessions. I realized that sometimes one needed an outsider’s perspective to understand the pros and cons of one’s national system and appreciate it better.

Just before my spring exams commenced, I also came to know that Bob Marley’s grandson, Nico Marley, who is a business student and football player at Tulane.

My Zimbabwean batch-mate, James, once mentioned a Zulu saying, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu,” meaning a person is a person because of people. That swiftly reminded me of an ancient Indian proverb with similar connotations, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning the world is one family. Bob Marley justly summarized these ancient words of wisdom:

Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.

A gulf sunset near Cuba.

Tulane truly has been a global village where our academic upbringing ensued with members of global community instilling in us precious values from all over the world. After spring exams, my LLM journey culminated with a seven-day cruise with my six batch-mates from New Orleans to the Caribbean, covering Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. 

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!