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legal externship

International student calls upon experience as an immigrant in her legal studies

Aisosa Arhunmwunde is a third-year law student at The University of Tulsa College of Law who is working towards a career in immigration law. Originally born in Nigeria, Arhunmwunde immigrated with her family to Canada where she earned her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Manitoba.

After college, she decided to continue her education in law school. “I realized early that laws are dormant until a person is there to enforce and interpret them for people,” said Arhunmwunde. “It was then that I realized I wanted to be the voice of those who needed help with their legal rights.”

“TU Law allowed me to start school in the spring semester.”

Originally, Arhunmwunde looked at TU Law because she wanted to begin law school in the spring semester and TU offers spring, summer and fall starts. After she compared schools, she realized that TU’s robust experiential learning program, excellent academics, diverse student body and the affordable cost of obtaining a legal education was right for her.

She worked with asylum-seekers in Ireland.

During law school, Arhunmwunde has focused her interests on immigration law by working at TU’s Immigrant Resource Network and Immigrant Rights Project. During the summer months, Arhunmwunde took her studies abroad through TU’s Study Abroad program and interned at the Irish Refugee Council in Dublin helping clients who were seeking asylum.

Elizabeth McCormick, JD, associate dean of Experiential Learning and director of the Clinical Education Program at TU Law said, “Aisosa brings the unique and valuable perspective of her own experience as an immigrant and international student to her work with immigrant clients. She has seized on every available opportunity to gain first-hand experience in immigration law and in representing real clients. The combination of her intellect, passion and empathy will be a great benefit to her and her clients in the future.

After completing her internship, Arhunmwunde traveled to Ghana which was funded by TU Law’s Public Interest Board. Based in Accra, she conducted interviews with citizens on the street who were displaced in order to help them find living spaces. She was one of a cadre of students from around the world there to conduct human rights work in the field.

“Law school is challenging but worth it if you choose the right one for you.”

“It is truly rewarding to have a client whose case you’ve work on call and tell you their asylum is approved and they no longer fear going to jail. It is so worth it,” said Arhunmwunde. “Law school is challenging like everything worthwhile, but it is easier and more enjoyable if you choose a law school that gives you the tools and sets you up for success before you put a foot out of the door.” During her time at TU Law, Arhunmwunde served as the associate editor of the Energy Law Journal, secretary of the Black American Law Students Association and was a member of the Women’s Law Caucus, Board of Advocates and the West African Students Association.

For more information on the TU College of Law, visit us online.

Forsyth externs with Federal Court of Appeals

TU Law student and Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) Student of the Year Hope Forsyth is serving as an extern for Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour. Forsyth’s skill set along with support from TU Law professors and the professional development office helped her secure this coveted legal externship.

“After hearing a judge speak in my first year of law school, I knew I wanted to learn at the federal court level,” said Forsyth. “Internships and externships in chambers involve learning from judges and their staff, observing the court in action, analyzing both frequent and unusual legal issues, and drafting written work for the judge to consider including in orders and opinions. Working for judges in law school gives an incomparable lesson in how to be an effective advocate.”

Forsyth is externing at the appellate level in her final year of law school.

Forsyth is an outstanding student all around. She earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in communication and media studies with minors in English and philosophy from The University of Tulsa, where she was also an Oklahoma Center for the Humanities research fellow, Honors Scholar, Presidential Scholar and National Merit Scholar.

Now, Forsyth is a third-year student at The University of Tulsa College of Law. She is the executive editor of the Tulsa Law Review, a student member of the Council Oak/Johnson-Sontag Inn of Court and a member of Phi Delta Phi. She has earned 11 CALI Excellence for the Future Awards for the highest grade in various classes and the George and Jean Price Award for legal reasoning, research and writing.

In addition to her appellate externship with Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour, Forsyth has gained experience at multiple levels of the court system through internships with Chief Judge Gregory K. Frizzell, former Magistrate Judge T. Lane Wilson and Magistrate Judge Paul J. Cleary, all of the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Forsyth credits her professors at TU Law for providing a solid education, mentorship and individual attention to all students. “TU Law is a close-knit and mentoring community with world-class legal professors,” said Forsyth. “They’ve had a formative influence on my education.”

“TU Law is a close- knit and mentoring community.”

Forsyth grew up in Cushing, Oklahoma, where her father practices law. Outside of law school, Forsyth is an America’s Test Kitchen home recipe tester and a volunteer sacramental catechist at her Catholic parish.

After graduation, Forsyth will join GableGotwals in Tulsa as an associate attorney.

 

 

 

Record number of TU Law students in externships across the U.S.

In 2018, The University of Tulsa College of Law has the largest number of externship placements in the school’s history. The school’s externship program allows students to be matched with attorneys and judges to obtain real-world, practical experience for academic credit.

“This is a record-setting semester for our externship program,” says Lauren Donald, assistant dean for experiential learning and TU Law 2007 alumna. “More than 30 percent of our law students are completing externships this year. Currently, we have students externing in Oklahoma and in cities across the U.S. including Denver, Dallas, Ft. Worth, New York City and Washington D.C.”

Learn about TU Law and apply here.

Legal externships provide the opportunity for students to move from thinking like lawyers in the classroom setting to operating like lawyers in practice settings. They also provide significant experience and knowledge in specialized areas of law including immigration, energy, environmental, corporate and judicial law.

Preston Brasch, externed at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic.

Third-year law student, Preston Brasch, recently returned from an externship at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “While at Harvard, I met extensively with clients who had fled persecution. I spent much of my externship preparing their asylum claims, assisting with research, drafting court filings and securing expert testimony,” said Brasch.

“Learning about my clients’ lives was a humbling experience – I felt a sense of responsibility to serve them well, knowing how much trust they gave the clinic. In many cases, their lives depended on us effectively advocating on their behalf because if forced to return to their home countries, there was a great chance they would face serious harm,” said Brasch.

HRIC Managing Attorney Phil Torrey spoke very highly of his TU Law intern. “Brasch was more like a colleague than a student.”  Sabi Ardalan, assistant director of the HRIC added, “We were very grateful to have Preston Brasch as a part of our legal clinic in the summer of 2017. He did incredible work researching and writing, meeting with clients and preparing case filings. TU Law clearly prepared him very well for this summer externship.”

See Preston talk about his externship here.

To learn more about externships at TU law, visit us online. TU Law is rated a U.S. News and World Report Top 100 Law School and a preLaw Magazine Best Value Law School. For information on admissions, visit us online today.

Legal community helps build future lawyers through externships

This article, written by Lauren Donald, assistant dean for experiential learning at TU, was first published in the Tulsa Business & Legal News.

The externship program at The University of Tulsa College of Law is one of the most robust programs of its kind, offering students an effective and comprehensive bridge to go from law student to lawyer.

TU Law’s proximity to the thriving, urban setting of the city and its engaged legal community ensure that externs have opportunities in a variety of exciting and relevant placements. In addition to local resources, students also take advantage of externships across the U.S. and abroad in government agencies, public interest organizations, courts, law firms and corporations.

Through externships, students build confidence in their ability to practice, feel the pleasure and challenge of work that matters, and find a path from lawyering experiences to a rewarding career.

Said Keaton Taylor, a second-year law student and extern with the Tulsa County Public Defender: “During (the law student-to-lawyer) transition, new skills become necessary for success; skills that can only be learned by doing. Externships are crucial to future lawyers. The externship program gives me the opportunity while still in school to begin navigating the new terrain of an attorney.”

Supervisors also find reward in helping lay a foundation for a student’s career. April Merrill, Legal Aid attorney for Medical-Legal Partnerships, says that through her practice students are exposed to real-world issues and sometimes of the darker side of life.

“This is often the first real-life experience the student has interacting with actual clients who are entrusting their problems to us,” she said.

Through these experiences, she hopes to instill in students a desire to serve low-income persons as these future lawyers move on in their careers.

Merrill has invested time as a supervisor in building the student experience.

“I strive to take the students from the legal theoretical framework to the practical, everyday practice of law,” she said. “As the students are allowed more client interaction and responsibility for drafting and research, I can see their confidence grow.

“Those ah-ha moments, as Oprah calls them, are the most rewarding. As a supervisor teaching a concept and to see it suddenly click, it’s really meaningful.”

Under the direction of engaged supervisors such as Merrill, students begin to identify their path and develop marketable skills.

“Law school is like an oyster producing pearls,” Taylor said. “For a pearl to hold value, it must be polished. Experiential learning increases my value as a pearl. I aspire to be the shiniest pearl on the market so I need to polish my skills as soon as possible. The externship program at TU allows me to do that.”