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A Warm Welcome to the Philippines

The last thing we expected when we walked off of the plane was a huge sign with our names on it. We aren’t famous, not even close, but we felt like celebrities.

Felicia Cantrell and I will be spending our summer in Dumaguete working with Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE). We will be doing anti-trafficking work and assisting in GWAVE’s community efforts and connections with the local law school.

When we arrived a few days ago, we were greeted by most of the GWAVE staff. They took us to breakfast where we also met the Dean of the law school at Silliman University. On our way to breakfast we drove past the law school, only to see another huge sign out front: “Welcome Krystelle Fernandez and Felicia Cantrell from ASU College of Law.” The spelling was close enough, because really, the thought was the ONLY thing that counted. We were welcomed to Dumaguete with open arms as they were all eager to share their work with us and collaborate to combat trafficking across the globe.

We’ve spent our first few days acclimating to the local cuisine, traffic, transportation, and even to the daily activities of the GWAVE staff. This morning we were able to participate in GWAVE’s Sunday morning radio show on human trafficking. They were given a one hour spot which they use to educate the community on trafficking issues and to answer questions texted in from listeners about the topic. We did our best to weigh in, which was a little difficult to do given that most of the show was in the local dialect, Visaya.

Tomorrow morning we head off to a local province for a court hearing with one of the GWAVE attorneys. They have many exciting opportunities for us to engage in the judicial system here and work alongside their attorneys, social workers and community educators. We are eager to absorb all that we can while we’re here.

We definitely stand out here – we’ve been the recipients of many non-subtle stares and even photographs. Hopefully, they’ll get used to seeing us around. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our new celebrity status, it will be short lived.

Complex Litigation

While toying with the thought of working in private practice after law school I, like many law students, have tried to weigh the pros and cons of big firm practice versus small firm practice.  Hours could be spent debating the differences between small and large firm practice, but one of the pros I usually associated with large firm practice has recently had some new light shed on it for me.

A pro of large firm practice I have often heard repeated is that they have interesting and complex litigation.  So if you want to be a litigator, large firm practice has a lot to offer in the way of interesting and complex work.  On the other hand it has been my experience that small firm practice is not viewed as providing the same experience with complex litigation.  However, my summer employer, which is a small firm, pointed out to me that most large firms tend to be heavy on the defense side of litigation, whereas small firms tend to handle much more plaintiffs’ cases.  It is also those same small firms who often bring litigation against the clients being represented by the large firms.  It makes sense then that the small firm that has brought the action is handling an equally complex case as the large firm that is defending the law suit.

I have to admit that I felt a little silly for never making the connection that a large firm involved in very complex litigation necessarily means that the plaintiff’s firm, which often might be small, is handling an equally complex matter.

My own experience so far this summer has proven this to be true.  The firm defending the case I am working on is a large very well known firm.  I wish I could regale the facts involved, but suffice it to say that the case is rather complex with interesting and unique issues for the plaintiff and defendants alike.  I would urge any law student who wants to do private practice not to write off small firms as an option simply because they think they have less interesting and less complex cases.  Small firms are equally capable of offering a wealth of experience to law students.

Where did the time go?

It’s already the second week of April, and I really don’t know where the spring semester went, or my first year of law school for that matter. It’s been an interesting 8 months, and I’m sure the next 2 years will be equally interesting and will disappear just as easily.

I was at an event the other night for recently admitted law students, and it was weird to finally feel like I know something. It sounds ridiculous, but I feel like your whole 1L year is spent feeling just a step behind. Like somehow you’re always a little late getting new information. But, interacting with a group of potential fellow law students really made me realize that I’ve learned a few things after all.

They’re concerned about all the same things I was: When do you get your schedule? You have no say in it, really? How do you find time to do anything but study? Where do I live? What about my family and friends, will I see them again? And really, my answer to all of those things seems to be about the same: take it all in moderation. That was my answer. A cop out? No, it’s true. You can’t study all the time. You will adjust to your schedule, no matter what it is. You may have to get up earlier than you expected, or budget your time better, but you’ll adjust. You have to live somewhere that’s right for you, the right roommates or alone. The right area that allows you to drive if you can, walk if you want, or take the lightrail. Will you see family and friends? Yes, but if you consciously make time to do that. Law school is about balance in every respect. Balancing your time, your personal life, your mental health, your decisions – all of it comes back to moderation.

A new class of 1L’s will be here before I know it. Without that fourth year of schooling, it really feels fast, almost like the roller coaster ride has already reached the peak of the huge drop, and the next 2 years will be spent enjoying the big fall and all the twists and turns that follow.

Law students study dispute resolution in Israel over Spring Break

Students from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University traveled to Israel over Spring Break for a dispute resolution course taught by professors Art Hinshaw of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and Andrea Schneider of  Marquette Law School. The course covered dispute resolution issues from the most basic settlement conferences in civil courts to negotiations over current political issues in the Middle East. Specific highlights included visiting the Israel Supreme Court, the Museum on the Seam (looking at all people’s claims to Jerusalem), participating in a cross-cultural negotiation class at Tel-Aviv University, visiting several Jewish and Christian holy sites, and learning about traditional Arab mediation practices.

The blog post below was written by College of Law student Mykil Bachoian, who was on the trip (center back row in photo below.) Photos are by College of Law student Matthew Binford.

My trip to Israel with Art Hinshaw and Andrea Schneider, Professor of Law at Marquette Law School, was the most educational and inspirational trip abroad that I have ever experienced.  In just a week’s time, I gained a deeper insight into Israel’s many conflicts.  A Taglit alum biased towards the endurance of a Jewish state, I was able to see with my own eyes some of the effects of Israel’s domestic policy on its Arab population.  I learned about the different legal statuses of Palestinians in Israel and how each has different interests.  As such, I see a potential issue with a future solution for some factions of Palestinians (e.g., a Palestinian state in the West Bank) being a potential problem for others (e.g., Arab citizens in Israel proper and Arab non-citizens in East Jerusalem).  During my favorite lecture of all-time since entering higher education, Professor Moty Cristal of Tel Aviv University made me completely re-evaluate my understanding of negotiation theory, and inspired me to add more strategies to my repertoire and dedicate myself to preparing for every possible angle of a negotiation.  In doing so, Moty also illuminated some of the roadblocks to a resolution of the conflict in Israel but highlighted why peace may be achieved in the future.  Like many of the speakers we visited with, I am optimistic about a zone of potential agreement and areas for the relationship between Israelis and Arabs in Israel proper to improve in the future.

Some of the highlights of the trip, among others, were: three days in Jerusalem, including a tour of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, an intense emotional session with the Parent’s Circle, and a gripping visit to Yad Vashem; one night’s stay at a Kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee near Yardenit to see a buddy get baptized in the River Jordan; short day trips to Nazareth and the holy city of Zefat, and a day in Haifa and Tel Aviv.  In the meantime, I managed to stuff my face with delicious food the entire trip (I’m a total foodie).  Some of the highlights were: a Biblical feast at Eucalyptus, lunch at a Jewish Iraqi kitchen in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, a heavenly falafel at a hole-in-the-wall in Zefat owned by an orthodox Jewish man (I was scared to catch his hairs in my food but pleasantly surprised not to see any), dinner at a Druze village, a home cooked dinner at former “Chief Justice” Barak’s home, lunch in Jaffa with 15 different salads, and an end-of-trip celebration at Dr. Shakshuka in Jaffa. Needless to say, I will need to hit the gym for pick-up basketball games to shed some weight.

All in all, I have never been so exhausted in my life.  The trip was jam-packed with activities, tours, lectures and excitement.  I am now substantially more informed on the issues involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  I returned to the States with a new perspective on conflict in the Holy Land and a reinvigorated sense of passion for peace.  I am dedicated to using my newly acquired knowledge and experience in the future to help out in any way that I can to try to improve the situation in Israel.


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