MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti ’15, Pace Law School

Michenzie-Roberts-LahtiGoing into my Princeternship over Intersession with alum Professor Elizabeth Corwin ’89 of Pace Law School (White Plains, New York), I thought I had an idea of what law school might entail.  Coming out of the experience, however, I am just beginning to realize the differences in the thought process and rhetoric that go into being a law student.  Upon reflection, I would be nowhere near as driven to explore the field of law further if it were not for this awesome 3-day experience with Prof. Corwin.

Day 1 – Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 1 was spent fully immersed in the life of a law student.  I met Prof. Corwin and my fellow Princetern Anya Lewis Meeks at 9:00 to attend our first class simply called “Evidence.”  My first observation once the class had started was the professor’s difference in teaching style from anything I had experienced before.  When talking with Prof. Corwin, she explained to us that law schools use a “Socratic” teaching method that seeks to fully engage the student through active participation.  I paid attention, then, to how each professor in the classes we attended would call out students to respond to the lecture, even in the biggest class we sat in on of 50 students.  All though a challenging environment, it was successful in making sure every student was focused.

Right after “Evidence” class we made our way next door (literally – Pace is a very small school) to sit in on a Family Law class.  This class was more philosophical than the evidence class and quite a bit easier to follow.  From class, we went downstairs to eat lunch in their cafeteria and had the chance to talk with a couple of 2nd year law students.  Both of them were very enthusiastic and helpful in explaining to us the differences between undergraduate and law school.  I discovered that law writing is far less “fluffy” and more technical, forcing attorneys to use a different thought process.  They were also very helpful in giving us an idea of what we should be doing in preparation for the LSAT.  We would have loved to pick their brains for hours, but let them go study while we headed off to our next class “Sexuality, Gender, and the Law.”  Taught by the same professor who teaches the family law class, we explored in more detail the theories of feminism and how they pertain to law.  I was not expecting to hear an analysis of feminism in a law class and it was interesting to see how the professor applied them to various cases.

After a long first day filled with new information, there was much to reflect on. 

Day 2 – Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The second day provided an excellent opportunity to see some of the things weMickenzie 3 had heard in class the previous day put into practice.  We all arrived at Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains at 9:30 to spend the morning sitting in on family court.  It was fascinating to witness all the types of people there.  Some were attorneys, some were there to testify, some were from various government agencies, but everyone was there to petition solutions to family problems.  We sat in on a few different proceedings, but the majority of the morning we witnessed a case where a women, who already had a large number children taken by the state, was in the process of losing another.  The majority of that morning’s proceedings were devoted to questioning the two caseworkers from Child Protective Services.  It was interesting to see all of the technicalities of the trial, from the swearing in to the judge’s rhetoric to use of evident.  What I took away most from the morning was the length of time for these family cases with the majority of court appearances devoted to setting a date for other court appearances.  The judge was constantly checking his calendar and telling people dates and times to come back for various hearings.

That afternoon we had the privilege of sitting in on a couple of activities for students and a Constitutional law class.  Our first activity was a meeting for students interested in spending time in internships abroad.  From the two students who explained a little about their experiences, working abroad is something I’ll be sure to keep on my radar.  From there we went to a Constitutional Law class (a class I was especially excited about).  It was a first year law class and a bit more what I imagined a law school class would be like.  With the use of various cases, the professor spent the class examining the uses of the commerce clause.  After class, we went next door and watched part of the film “Ghandi” and spent a few minutes discussing civil disobedience. 

All in all, it was a very eventful day full of great firsthand experiences. 

Day 3 – Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The third day opened with a “Contracts” class.  That day, the professor was analyzing the various offers and acceptances that go into forming contractual agreements.  It was quite surprising to learn how precise the timing is in determining the exact moment when a contract goes into effect.  Later that afternoon, we had the chance to talk with the Director of Law Admissions, Ms. Lisa Lancia.  She was extremely helpful in illustrating the law school application process and what we should be doing in the next couple of years in preparation for potentially going to law school.  It was encouraging to hear that law school does not need to directly follow undergraduate studies and it’s often helpful to work for a couple of years to gain real life experience. 

After our meeting with Ms. Lancia, we dropped in on our final class, a seminar on externships.  This final class was a perfect ending to our own “externship” because it covered very practical ways to behave when interning in a firm.  The students in the class were spending a few hours a week working in a law firm and would come back this seminar to report on their experiences.  I took away a lot of important tidbits on what to do when your supervisor is unclear or not helpful in giving feedback.  It was an interactive and reflective way to end a wonderful three days full of information and immersion.

Upon reflection, my Princeternship at Pace Law School enhanced my interest in investigating the various careers and uses for a law degree.  Mickenzie 2I have walked away with a greater realization of how fast my undergraduate career has and will go by and the world that lies beyond Princeton.  It is so easy to fall prey to the “Princeton bubble” that I found myself feeling the same way I did when I started to investigate undergraduate universities.  I realize now how life is full of phases that come and go quickly.      

I would like to thank Professor Corwin for her constant attention to our needs in making sure we were able to experience everything we were hoping to.  Her love of justice and excitement about learning made the Princeternship all the more enjoyable and educational.


Anya Lewis-Meeks ’15, Pace Law School

Anya-LexisThis January I spent three days with Professor Elizabeth Corwin, Esq. ’89 at the Pace Law School in White Plains, NY, and I decided I wanted to study law. My name is Anya Lewis-Meeks and I am currently a sophomore, whose interests have been fairly vague so far, pretty much only designated by the fact that I knew I didn’t want to start my life in the working world as soon as I finished college, that I wanted a few years to continue studying and to continue being a student. I decided to apply for the Princeternship at the Pace Law School to decide if law school was something I could see myself doing, and I would advise others who are feeling similarly to do the same. It was genuinely one of the most helpful experiences in terms of deciding the direction I wanted my life and my career to go.

Day 1:
I had arrived the night before by train and settled in very well with Professor Corwin and her adorable children, all of whom were extremely accommodating and kind to me. Professor Corwin herself was so engaging and interesting, she talked to me excitedly about her experiences at Princeton as an undergrad and at Pace where she decided to pursue her degree as a lawyer a few years after she completed her AB degree. We arrived at 9 am that first morning and met up with MicKenzie, the other Princetern on the program. MicKenzie and I were ushered into our first class, Evidence, with Professor Lisa Griffin, whose class was conducted in the Socratic style (lawyer-speak for in-class debate) and who managed to maintain the interest of the fifty-person class. After Evidence we went to Professor Noa Ben-Asher’s Family Law class, and we were thrust into conversation about the right of privacy within the marital bedroom and the right of the state to restrict marriage.  Again the material we were learning was so fascinating that I barely noticed that I had spent almost three hours in class.

At lunch, Professor Corwin facilitated a meeting with a couple of her students, Aisha and Mariam, who talked to us for over an hour about the different groups on campus (which were mostly divided by legal interests, such as Environmental and International Law), and about the difficulties the LSAT had provided for them and that they expected to have when studying for the Bar exam. Both students were very engaged in conversation with us, and seemed quite eager to tell us about all of the gossip associated with the School, as well as their own reasons for applying to Pace.

After lunch we attended Professor Ben-Asher’s Gender and Sexuality Class, wherein we learned about different schools of thought about feminism over the years and how different cases were introduced in response to these new arising modalities of feminism.

Completely overwhelmed yet excited, I returned home already mostly sure that law school was going to be part of my plans for the future, but it wasn’t until the second day that I really felt certain about it.

Day 2:
The second day marked one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a professional setting. We spent the morning of the 29th at White Plains Family Court, and were able to sit in the back of Judge Kline’s court to hear the workings of a case about the Termination of Parental Rights. The woman whose parental rights were in question was in attendance, and it was supremely difficult to see her facial and physical reactions to the rigorous argument by the lawyer and the witness against her character. The main goal of Family Court is protection of the child, and we were reminded of this constantly by Professor Corwin, but it was interesting and grounding to be reminded of all the stakeholders in a law case. I think the experience helped me realize how easy it is to demonize defendants of cases, but seeing the actual court case helped me realize how important it is to think like a lawyer and subdue your feelings of sympathy or a lack thereof to focus on the best possible outcome.

After the fascinating Family Court experience we attended Constitutional Law, where we talked about Congress’ influence and involvement in issues of violence against women and equal protection in terms of the commerce clause. We talked also about the use of medicinal marijuana and its relation to state versus federal law, and congress’ stake in the matter. Again the Professor managed to maintain even an introductory class’ interest, and MicKenzie and me were, of course, impressed.

After the class we attended a screening of the movie Gandhi and engaged in conversation about the impact Gandhi has had on non-violent protest and Martin Luther King. It was a nice reminder that even in law school activities were not solely dedicated to work, and they even served pizza at the talk, just like at a Princeton event!

Day 3:
The final day we attended two more classes, starting with a supremely interesting Advanced Trial Advocacy class with Professor Lou Fazulu wherein several law students enacted the process of witness questioning in a trial-style environment, all dressed in business clothing and with an air of seriousness around them. Although many students use their law degree for occupations other than prosecuting, or even practicing law at all, the reminder that this is what the theoretical class contributed to was welcome and very much appreciated.

Before our next class of the evening we participated in a study-abroad informational session, where several students commented on their experiences in law firms abroad (especially in India and China), and how rewarding the opportunities had been for them.

After lunch we attended a Contracts law class, where we learned about the difference between return promises and performances, and the interesting cases where acceptance by silence would be pertinent. Even topics based on minutiae that I would not have considered interesting in the past came alive, and I found myself flurrying to take notes about contract law cases even though I wouldn’t need them for years to come.

The final class we experienced was not a class at all, really, but rather a sort of de-briefing session for the students participating in the Environmental Law Externship program. The students, who were all working several hours at different companies certain days of the week, met with this class to discuss the different experiences they were having at their various environmental places of employ, and once again the idea of professional work was brought into context. It’s very easy as an undergraduate to wonder about how what you are learning will be relevant to your life after school, and I think that this is the main difference between the two schools that I found appealing. Instead of vague interests that spiraled into the ether of doing something with my life someday, concrete ideas of the reconciliation of knowledge and application were beginning to form in my head.

The experience for me was extremely rewarding not necessarily because of the information I learned or the people I met (we also had a meeting with the admissions director of Pace, who was very kind but also quite intimidating with all the information about application!), but because of the consolidation of a professional future, for me. I didn’t leave only thinking I wanted to go to law school, but that I wanted to be a lawyer, with all that meant and all the difficulties that would arise along the way. The experience convinced me to change my classes and to change my major, and to seriously orient my plans for the next few years around application to law school, and I am tremendously thankful for that.