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TU Law student on her way to federal clerkship in Texas

After she graduates from The University of Tulsa College of Law in May, Alexandra (Allie) Fleming will be embarking on a career-defining journey. That’s when she will take up a two-year clerkship with U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald C. Griffin of the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas.

“Getting a federal clerkship is a great honor and an incredibly valuable experience,” said Matt Lamkin, an associate professor at TU Law and the faculty member who helps students identify and apply for clerkship opportunities. Many judges receive hundreds of applications for just one position. That’s because working in a judge’s chambers gives clerks insight into the justice system that can’t be obtained any other way.

University of Tulsa Law student Alexandra Fleming
Alexandra Fleming

“Allie is a perfect fit for a clerkship.  She’s got strong analytical ability, excellent writing skills, and – most importantly – a commitment to excellence.  Judge Griffin is lucky to have her.”

Fleming’s responsibilities as a federal clerk will be various. Because Judge Griffin maintains both a civil and criminal docket, she will, among other tasks, help draft motion orders, opinions and evidentiary rulings. Fleming will also have ample opportunities to observe settlement conferences and daily court proceedings. “I am so looking forward to learning from Judge Griffin day in and day out,” Fleming remarked. “He has years of experience as a civil attorney and he knows the inner workings of civil litigation in ways I cannot even begin to fathom.”

From Texas to Tulsa

A federal clerkship in Texas makes additional sense for someone who was born and raised in the state and has her sights set on practicing law there.

After graduating from a small high school in Red Oak, south of Dallas, Fleming attended the University of Texas at Austin. There, she majored in journalism, originally with her eyes set on becoming a sports broadcaster – “think Erin Andrews mixed with Bob Costas,” she said. While Fleming eventually chose another path, she drew on the solid writing fundamentals learned as an undergraduate and put them to good use during the next stage of her education: “I attribute much of my success at law school to the principles of sound writing I acquired while studying journalism.”

Upon graduating from UT Austin, Fleming made her way north to Tulsa. During her first term at TU Law, Fleming studied contracts law with Professor Robert Butkin. She credits that course with “setting the tone for my entire law school career. Professor Butkin had extremely high standards regarding how we prepared for class, and I tried my best to import those principles to all the rest of my studies.” Fleming also praised Professor Evelyn Hutchison for giving her a morale boost during that first semester. “I owe a lot of my confidence to Professor Hutchison. She encouraged me when I wasn’t sure I was cut out for legal studies and assured me that I, in fact, did understand this whole law school thing.”

From 2015 to 2019, TU Law students obtained 9 federal clerkships and 1 state clerkshipIn addition to her coursework, Fleming took advantage of TU Law’s internship and externship opportunities. During her 1L summer, she worked on Project Commutation – “such a worthwhile, life-changing experience.” Even more germane to her upcoming clerkship, when she was a 2L Fleming externed for the Honorable Judge E. Dowdell: “This was an invaluable experience that cemented for me that clerking after graduation was something I would really enjoy.”

While that experience was galvanizing in terms of her future direction, the first step was actually taken in a constitutional law course taught by Dean Lyn Entzeroth. “Each day,” Fleming recalled, “Dean Entzeroth exuded a passion for constitutional law. I could not get enough. That was the first time I remember a course inspiring me to think of pursuing a career in the area of the law the course covered. After Con Law, I knew I wanted to learn more about constitutional rights litigation, and that led me to apply for an externship in Judge Dowdell’s chambers.”

Advice for others

The road to a clerkship is long, and it is paved with diligence, hard work and inevitable rejection. Fleming recalled that Professor Lamkin helped prepare her by advising that “rejection letters will at least double the number of interview offers” and that she had to do something “to get out of the big stack of applications on a judge’s desk and into the small stack that a judge would want to interview.”

One of the somethings that Fleming credits with having helped her to land interviews was serving on the editorial board of the Tulsa Law Review (TLR). “Each judge I interviewed with wanted someone who had served on their school’s flagship journal,” she noted. Beyond its utility for securing interviews, Fleming said, “working as TLR’s associate articles editor taught me about academic scholarship and pushed my work ethic to the limits. It also enhanced my detail orientation to a new level and made me a more effective leader.”

Alexandra Fleming's six tips for obtaining a clerkship interviewAnother piece of good counsel Fleming wanted to pass along to others aspiring to federal clerkships is to “find something that creates a connection to each particular judge.” Among the possibilities she cited were a mutual undergraduate institution, a hobby or even a home state.

Her final advice is to recognize “you can never be too prepared.” For Fleming, preparing to apply and be interviewed took six months. She researched the most common judicial clerkship interview questions. She wrote out and memorized answers to those questions. And then she recited those answers in front of a mirror. “That was my way of being as prepared as I could possibly be.” Clearly, for Fleming, the result was amply worth the effort.

 

A JD from The University of Tulsa College of Law leads to success. Within 10 months of graduation, the Class of 2019 achieved an 86.6% rate employment for full-time, long-term, bar license-required or JD advantage positions. Get your outstanding future started by applying today.

TU Law welcomes the largest 1L class in nearly a decade

The University of Tulsa College of Law is always a vibrant place. But this year its classrooms, corridors and lounges are positively humming with the arrival of the largest 1L class since 2010. As of fall 2019, TU Law’s entering class is up 19% over the previous year.

Dean Lyn Entzeroth attributes much of this growth to the college’s dedicated Admissions team as well as the fact that word has spread near and far about the high-quality education and student support TU Law offers.

“My colleagues in Admissions do a masterful job helping prospective students understand the process of applying to law school and the elements that make our college a perfect fit for many of them, including our low student-to-faculty ratio, personalized approach to teaching and mentoring as well as our professional development services,” Entzeroth remarked. “The past 12 months have also seen TU Law recognized publicly for factors that are critical to prospective students, including bar passage and job placement rates. Without our dedicated faculty and staff members, none of this would be possible.”

Texans living on Tulsa time

Two of the students who recently joined TU Law are Kristin Rodriguez and Trevion Freeman. Both of them hail from Texas and completed bachelor’s degrees majoring in political science (Rodriguez at the University of Oklahoma and Freeman at the University of Texas at Austin). As they contemplated where to attend law school, both of them envisioned studying somewhere in Texas.

University of Tulsa College of Law freshman student Kristin Rodriguez
Kristin Rodriguez

“I love it there, and I am 100% Texan through and through,” Rodriguez said. Born and raised in Waco, Freeman had much the same thought: “Although I’d heard many good things about TU Law, I honestly did not see myself moving away from Texas.”

Part of what motivated Rodriguez to bid a temporary farewell to her home state was how impressed she was with TU Law’s recruitment process. “They were the only school that sent mail and email as well as called me,” she said. “TU Law was also the only school that called to let me know I had been accepted. I was actually finishing up an on-campus tour at another school and meeting with their dean when my watch buzzed with the call from Miss Janet at TU Law. She seemed overjoyed for me. I felt wanted. And Tulsa feels like Austin, but with no traffic!”

For his part, Freeman said, “TU Law was the first school that contacted me after I applied, letting me know that I was accepted. After visiting Tulsa and the College of Law and learning that my friend Harry from UT Austin had also been admitted, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and continue my education up here.”

Beyond the thoughtfulness of the Admissions team plus Tulsa’s cool vibe and livable scale, Rodriguez and Freeman were also swayed to accept TU Law’s offer because of several critical reputational factors. Most important among these, they noted, are the school’s Top 100 status, high bar passage rate within two years of graduation (92.96%) and excellent job placement rate (#10 in the United States). It didn’t hurt, too, that TU Law is among the Top 25 Best Value private and public law schools and, at #2 in the national rankings, TU Law is among the top Best Value private law schools. The University of Tulsa College of Law is a Top 100 law school

A supportive, engaged community

So, 12 weeks in and did TU Law live up to its promise and Rodriguez and Freeman’s expectations?

“It’s been hard, but rewarding,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve written two mid-terms so far, and they’ve gone well. In addition, all my professors have an open-door policy if you have questions or need to talk about anything.”

University of Tulsa College of Law freshman student Trevion Freeman
Trevion Freeman

Freeman, meanwhile, characterized his first semester at TU Law as “extraordinary.” In his words, “all my professors and the administrative staff have shown on a daily basis that they want me and my fellow students to succeed. Law school is a challenging journey, but it helps when you know that there are people who care and who are willing to help with anything.”

Another element that has enhanced the law school experience for both Rodriguez and Freeman has been their involvement in TU Law’s vibrant student organizations. Rodriguez recollected, “as an undergrad, the only thing I joined was a sorority, and I did the bare minimum with them. But I told myself going into law school I wanted to be involved. One of the first things I did was join the Student Bar Association (SBA), where I was elected as a 1L delegate to represent my 1L class. That’s been a real honor. I’ve met upperclassmen through the SBA and gotten to know the other 1L delegates.”

In addition, Rodriguez stepped up to become the secretary of the Latino Law Students Association and the Law and Medicine Society. Likewise, Freeman was elected to be a delegate to the SBA, representing the class of 2022. “That moment,” he said, “affirmed for me that TU Law was the place I belonged.”

“I definitely made the right choice,” Rodriguez echoed. “TU Law is a community of people who want you to succeed. Even in my 1L class, everyone is incredibly kind and uplifting. And I love how diverse it is and that I’ve been able to meet people from all over the country.”The University of Tulsa College of Law is #10 in full-time, long-term bar license-required and JD advantage positionsThe University of Tulsa College of Law's students achieved a 92.96% bar passage rate within two years of graduation. 


If you are thinking about a career in law, consider earning your juris doctorate at The University of Tulsa College of Law – one of the country’s Top 100 law schools.

 

 

Lone Star externs: TU Law grads reflect on their final semester in Austin, TX

On Friday, May 3, University of Tulsa College of Law students Demi Allen and Mitchell Lovett took part in the college’s hooding ceremony, thereby officially transforming into TU Law alumni. During the final semester before they wrapped up law school and embarked on their careers, TU Law’s externship program enabled them to live and work in Texas’s vibrant capital, Austin.

Here, in Allen and Mitchell’s own words, are first-hand accounts of their experiences. They also generously shared with us two short videos they shot down south on the banks of the Colorado River.

Demi Allen — “never a dull moment”

“During my last semester at TU Law, I externed in Austin at the private family law firm Kirker | Davis, LLP. I have always wanted to pursue a career as a family law attorney, and I could not have found a better fit for myself. Within my first month, I was drafting settlement agreements and final decrees, helping to prepare attorneys for court hearings and sitting in on client meetings. There was never a dull moment while at Kirker | Davis, LLP.

“Over the course of my time with the firm, I formed friendships with my fellow colleagues and learned more than I could have ever hoped. Each partner, attorney, paralegal and operations team member jumped right in to help make me feel welcome and never shied away from my many, many questions. The more I learned about family law, specifically the divorce process, the more diverse my tasks became. During the close of my time as an extern, I was drafting everything from the welcome email sent to a client to the conclusion of representation letter and everything in between. I assisted with depositions, mediations and court appearances. No task was ‘too important’ or ‘too big’ for me to at least take an initial stab at, and the experiences taught me a lot.”

 

“The partners at Kirker | Davis, LLP, truly wanted me to learn how to become the best family law attorney I could, and their doors were always open. I cannot recommend them enough to anyone who is interested in family law. The firm is fast paced and full of brilliant attorneys who provide a welcoming and fun environment for attorneys and law students alike. I was given the freedom to work on any case I was interested in and pick up any task I wanted to learn more about.

“I absolutely loved my time in class at TU, but I never could have imagined the opportunities the externship program provided. I start full time as an associate attorney, pending licensure, with Kirker | Davis, LLP, this October and cannot wait to see what my future with the firm holds!”

Mitchell Lovett — “no better way to complete a legal education”

“Over the course of my last semester at TU Law, I opted to extern at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in Austin. My externship exceeded my learning expectations and helped me wrap up my legal education in a practical and worthwhile experience. I easily recommend the EDF to other students looking to work in environmental law.

“The work I did at the EDF was varied. I completed multiple long-form research projects that required drafting, cross-disciplinary teamwork, intense research and legal analysis. These projects revolved around how a toxic byproduct is affected by the constraints of water law, federal land management, endangered species and the oil and gas industry’s federal and state requirements. My larger projects taught me the importance of pace and taking one’s time when working on seemingly insurmountable tasks. After all, ‘Rome was not built in a day.'”

 

“Thankfully, I did much more than two projects. My supervisor allowed me the opportunity to entangle myself into any area that sparked my interest. I accompanied senior personnel to legislative meetings at the Texas capital, reviewed upcoming bills and I was lucky enough to attend a Groundwater Protection Council conference in Fort Worth.

“I also dove into administrative law and participated in administrative filings for multiple state agencies, which was an incredible experience. I learned how to pull the legally important language out of technical regulations and integrate technicalities into prose in order to persuade. Separately, I helped deconstruct technical regulations to develop base standards for future action, and that project is the bedrock for a regulatory framework. The EDF invested in me and at each step of the way. I felt included, which is worth more to a young professional than most realize. Ultimately, there is no better way to complete a legal education.”

 

Mitchell Lovett (JD '19) and Demi Allen (JD '19) in the TU Law library
Mitchell Lovett (JD ’19) and Demi Allen (JD ’19) in the TU College of Law’s Mabee Legal Information Center