Category Archives: Admissions

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.”

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. 

San Juan

Admissions update: Fall recruiting in full swing

Happy Autumn, and greetings from MSY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MSY

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

Good luck on your applications, and safe travels!

– David

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

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