Clemente Wildcats Discover Law: Field Trip to John Marshall Law School

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Clemente Wildcats Discover Law: Field Trip to John Marshall Law School

By: Barbara Jimenez

Since I was small, my desire has been to become a lawyer. I am specifically fascinated with Family Law because it is a profession where your job is to counsel families that need assistance.  My first exposure to the law was in the eighth grade, where I participated in a mock trial. I was also inspired by my aunt who is a lawyer in my home country, the Dominican Republic. As I have grown older, I have had several opportunities to learn about and discuss the profession with lawyers, most recently, during a field trip.

Here at Clemente High School, we had the opportunity to visit the John Marshall Law School. The trip was a great experience and an opportunity to get exposed to the environment. When we first arrived, we were greeted and escorted to a space that looked like a courtroom. We participated in trivia while we waited for the dean of the institution to come in and address us. During the trivia, we learned how many ABA accredited law schools there are in Illinois, how long it takes to complete law school, what the requirements are to attend law school, and how there are several celebrities and public figures who have law degrees. We also learned about the qualities and characteristics that a person needs in order to be a lawyer. When the Dean, Darby Dickerson, arrived, she spoke to us about the academic history of the John Marshall Law School, as well as her own background and what inspired her to study law.

After the Dean’s address, we participated in a mock law class taught by professor Acevedo, who is a graduate of Chicago Public Schools. During the class, we analyzed three court cases, one of which we refuted the original verdict and had to argue on what grounds we found it to be unfair. We learned the elements of tort law (duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages/injury) and how it applied to the cases we were analyzing. We also learned how to construct an argument, how to extract rule of law from a case, and how it can be used to establish legal precedent in a different case. I have to admit that this made me want to become a lawyer even more and law school is something that I am looking forward to.

Following the class was a student panel, where current 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-year law students talked about their struggles, successes, and overall journey. We also met a professor, Dr. Ortiz, who is a graduate of our school! Dr. Ortiz spoke to us about his time at Clemente and how he became a lawyer. This was really inspiring; I always get excited when I get to be around lawyers, learning what it takes to be one and learning more about the profession. After the panel, we met other law students who led us on a tour of the school. We got to see the Goldberg courtroom (which is modeled exactly like a real courtroom) where law students practice arguing cases. Our tour guides also showed us the pro bono clinic where the students get to give back to the community and get the hands on experience of solving a case before graduating. There we had the opportunity to speak more with proud Clemente Alumnus, Dr. Ortiz, who runs the clinic. He shared with us that some of the law students who participated in the clinic had recently solved a case.  

Being part of this field trip helped confirm that this is what I want to pursue as a career. To me, family law is about making the right decisions and helping improve someone’s life for the better. I know that I am capable of becoming a family attorney because I am hardworking and dedicated. When I want something, I give it my all and work hard until the end, and I know that traits like this will help me become the family lawyer I’ve always envisioned. The idea of being a family attorney makes me excited because I get to make a difference in a family’s life. I would like to thank my high school, Roberto Clemente Community Academy for the exposure and for allowing us to experience different career options.

Also, thank you to Troy Riddle and the John Marshall Law School for hosting us, and thank you to Professor Acevedo, Dr. Ortiz, and all of the law students who helped us discover law!