Category Archives: Student life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tulane Law | Mardi Gras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tulane Law | Mardi Gras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tulane Law | Mardi Gras

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

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

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

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

Tulane Law School | Twitter

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

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

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

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

Tulane Law | CDO

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

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

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

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

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

Tulane Law | CDO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student perspectives

Why are you participating in boot camp?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Tulane Law | Boot Camp

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

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

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

What’s your favorite part of boot camp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faculty perspectives

Why do you teach in Tulane’s boot camp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does boot camp prepare students for practice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall semester highlights

Season’s greetings from Weinmann Hall!

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

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

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

Happy holidays!