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Abra Conitz

A photo of Abra ConitzHello, I'm Abra and I just started my second year at Seattle University! Before coming to law school, I taught elementary school for five years in Washington and Arizona. I am interested in child advocacy, but am unsure if I want to focus on special education laws or being a guardian ad litem.
I live in Tacoma and commute to school on the bus or train. Commuting is nice because of the built in study time (or nap time) every day! In my free time, I play an instrument called the viola de gamba (think of a cello and a guitar morphed into one instrument) with a group in Seattle, read, and spend time with friends.

November 2013

I finished the final that I was the most nervous for over the weekend - a full mock trial! My friend and I decided to take Trial Advocacy this semester because we wanted the practice and I am terrified of public speaking. It was a great class and I found that once I was up talking in front of our "jury" (law school friends who we begged to come and give up their Saturdays for us), I actually sort of enjoyed myself. Getting ready for the trial also gave me a bit of a taste of what being a trial attorney may be like - lots of writing briefs and freaking out about how the witnesses are going to do on the stand. While I am glad that the trial is over, I really enjoyed parts of it and now feel if the opportunity arose, I think I would enjoy doing some trial work!

I've also been getting ready for my last semester of law school - I cannot believe that it is finally almost here! I decided to do a judicial externship at the Tulalip Tribal Court which is north of Seattle. I am really excited about this opportunity because it will allow me to be in a courtroom a lot and learn more about tribal law. In addition to my externship I will be taking a family law class and hopefully one more legal writing class. And applying for jobs, which is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time! I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time over the break and at the beginning of next semester deciding what kind of jobs I am interested in applying for. Not to mention editing my cover letter and resume all the time.

While I am nervous about the semester ending, I am looking forward to having some time to catch up with friends and going on a few adventures!

October 2013

October has been filled with a lot of fun things - I went with my class to the Elwha River (yay law school field trips!), spent a weekend Portland with a friend, and had one of my best law school friends come and visit for a few days! Plus classes and externship make for a full and happy month!

The Elwha River trip was amazing - my favorite part was meeting with the person in the tribe who has been working with the dam removal and talking with him about the process. He was talking about how the salmon are coming back to the river more quickly than had been expected! We went to both dam sites - the lower dam has been completely removed and all that is left is a bit of cement where the dam used to stand. It was incredible to see and hear the river flowing naturally again. This class has been so different from all of my other law classes, but I love it because our professors keep encouraging us to think like the lawyers who were faced with these issues when the Elwha tribe decided to fight for dam removal. 

I have also been working with my friend preparing for our trial advocacy final that takes place at the end of November. I decided to take trial advocacy because I'm terrified of public speaking and this class has really been helping with that. It makes me get up and talk in front of a bunch of people, which is good. Finding friends who are willing to be witnesses was a bit trickier, but I think we've managed to convince some people to give up a Saturday and help us out. I am really enjoying preparing the briefs that we need to submit before trial begins - it is something I could see myself doing beyond law school.
I cannot believe that I'm almost finished with law school - the past 2 and a half years have flown by and while I'm ready to be a lawyer, I have truly enjoyed taking classes and learning about subjects I never thought I would be interested in before law school began. 

Back to learning about Immigration Law. Yay!

September 2013

I feel like I blinked and we were in our fifth week of school! Time flies when you're having fun...or are incredibly busy. This semester I'm taking 4 classes, doing an externship, and working a few hours a week at a law firm. I am enjoying myself a lot!

One thing that I decided to do before this year started was take classes that interest me in areas that I don't think I will actually ever practice law in. Which is how I ended up in the class about the Elwah River. The Elwah River is in the Olympic Peninsula and originally had two dams on it and blocked the salmon flow for 100 years. It is one of the first rivers to have all of the dams removed and the salmon are coming back up the river! In the class, we're looking at the laws and issues surrounding the removal of the dams from an Indian Law and Environmental Law perspective - including reading about the biology of salmon. Plus, we're going on a field trip to the river in a few weeks! Definitely a law school first and I am so excited to see the area we have been talking about first-hand.

For my externship, I am working with the Northwest Justice Project in Everett. The office does general legal aid, so I have been able to see a lot of different areas of law, which is good because I'm still not totally sure what area of law I would like to go into. I also have had a chance to meet a lot of clients which I'm really enjoying!

Back to preparing a direct examination of a child witness for trial advocacy class!

April 2013

I cannot believe that I will be starting finals so soon! This semester has flown by and I am going to be a 3L in a few weeks. Yikes! It is hard to believe that law school has gone by so quickly and that I finally feel like I understand parts of the law.

Finals are always a stressful time - I have slowly started my outlines, but they are not anywhere close to where I need them to be to take my tests. My two cats are also not big fans of finals because my desk is covered in papers and I don't spent a lot of time playing with them. One of my cats has perfected the art of sitting on the exact piece of paper I'm trying to study with.

Once finals are over, my friend and I are going to go camping for a few days on the Washington coast. It will be nice to get away from the city and law school and it gives me something to look forward to while studying!

I have finally found a summer job. I will be working as a research assistant for a few professors here at school! I am looking forward to spending my summer researching and writing on a subject that I do not know much about. Working as a research assistant was a goal that I had set for myself before starting law school, and I am excited that I will be able to do it full time. Back to finishing up reading assignments for the last day of classes!

March 2013

March is an exciting month for two reasons: Spring Break and the semester being halfway over! I cannot believe how quickly this semester is flying by and that soon finals will be here. I spent my Spring Break on a mountain surrounded by snow reading non-law school books, knitting, and making pies! I also did start some work on my outlines for finals, but mostly relaxed.

I am still not sure what I will be doing this summer - the Small Firms Fair was an interesting experience and I met a lot of great lawyers, but I still haven't found the right summer job. It was nice to have time to speak with different lawyers about why they chose to work at a small firm and what types of cases each lawyer takes. Over break I worked on sending out some more cover letters and am hoping that something comes of it! There is a lot of interesting summer opportunities and it is hard deciding exactly what I should apply for.   My classes this semester are great, though it is still strange not to be working on Legal Writing. I thought that I would have more free time without having Legal Writing this semester, but I have found that I am just reading more cases instead of skimming through them. Evidence and Professional Responsibility require a lot of memorization, so I have found a great flashcard system to practice learning all of the different rules. I have also started outlining for classes (and by that I mean that I've thought about it and opened a document for each class titled "outline for ____").

Back to working on my flashcards!

February 2013

I know I am not in the majority at all, but I really love winters in the Northwest. It is rainy and gray, but not too cold, which encourages me to drink more coffee and read (mostly law books). I also appreciate that here in the Northwest, if you have a desire to go and spend some time in the snow it is only a few hours away! I finally made the trek up to the snow and spent a few days enjoying being cold, snow shoeing, and seeing the sun!

Classes are going well this semester - I am still in a bit of shock that I am over halfway finished with law school. My favorite class right now is Federal Indian Law because it is providing such a different prospective on how U.S. laws shape people in ways I had never thought of before. Our professor has also had a number of very engaging guest speakers to give a "real world" prospective on this area of law.

I have also been spending a fair amount of time looking for a summer position, which involves a lot of cover letter writing. The hardest part about writing cover letters for me is finding a way to make each unique while not constantly re-inventing the wheel. In March I will be attending a fair for small firms and solo attorneys that I hope will result in some opportunities for the summer. Part of the reason that I am interested in working at a small firm is that from what I have researched, they tend to see a lot of different areas of law instead of just focusing on one part. We'll see what happens!

Back to learning the rules of Evidence!

January 2013

Happy New Year! Break is over and classes have started back up again. I am looking forward to this semester, mostly for the random assortment of classes that I have chosen to take.

Finals went...fairly well, I guess...and now they're over (thank goodness!). My break was filled with family time, snow shoeing, and reading lots of books. I find that during my breaks I try to cram in as much "fun" reading as I can by reading new books and re-reading old favorites. The best book I read over break is called "Wonder" - I highly recommend reading it!

This semester I am taking some required classes (Evidence and Professional Responsibility), but am also taking classes that interest me. It feels strange not to have a Legal Writing class to take as well, though I am not missing all of the research and writing that I was doing last semester. I have a feeling that some of my classes will fill the research gap soon enough.

In addition to starting classes up again, I have decided to take part in the Tausend Competition, which is for students who took Legal Writing II during Fall Semester. I am looking at this as another chance to practice my oral argument skills and keep working on not getting nervous in front of judges. Part of the competition is to argue the opposite side than the one you originally wrote for, so I am switching from the defendant to the state. Before starting the preparations for that round, I was really nervous because I felt like I didn't know the State's arguments at all, but I am finding that I am familiar with a lot of arguments.

Spring Semester also brings the joys of figuring out how I will be spending my summer. One thing that I would like to do is participate in the Madrid Study Abroad program at the end of the summer. Learning law and spending a few weeks in Spain sounds like a wonderful way to start my 3L year! Beyond that, I know I would like to intern in a small firm or another non-profit, but I am not sure exactly where that will be yet.

Back to reading about civil rights and liberties!

November 2012

This month has flown by so quickly! I have finished my appellate brief, given an oral argument for the brief, written a draft of my disability law paper, started working on my outlines for finals, and still managed to go swimming at least once a week.

I find that I have a love-hate relationship with the month of November - I love Thanksgiving and the fall season, but I really hate that it means finals are approaching so quickly. This Thanksgiving was quiet - filled with lots of delicious pie and a lot of studying for Constitutional Law. They go surprisingly well together!

Finishing my appellate brief felt a lot like when I ran a half-marathon once (I am NOT a runner by any stretch of the imagination). It started out well and I was energized and excited, but by the end I was tired and super nervous that I wasn't going to make it. I remember crossing the finish line of my half-marathon thinking I was going to be elated, but all I wanted to do was take a nap. After turning in my brief, I felt the same way - I wanted to take a nap. I am so happy that it is finished and I think that I turned in some pretty good writing.

Finals start soon, and I am looking forward to being finished with the semester!

October 2012

My oral argument for my motion brief went a lot better than I thought it would - 10 minutes breezed by in a flash! One of the hardest parts for me was that I was rebutting everything my opponent said and figuring out exactly what points I wanted to make on the fly was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I want to give a shout out to my amazing opponent who did an incredible job in his argument - we did it!

My motion brief is finished and turned in! It felt like most of my month was spent researching and editing 12 pages. 12 pages seemed like a lot of space to make all of my points when I first started, but I ended up having to cut a lot of information that I wanted to keep in my brief. All in all, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. The downside to turning in my motion brief is that now I need to start writing my appellate brief. Yikes!

I've also been volunteering one day a week at Disability Rights Washington as a resource advocate. I spent my summer working there as a legal intern, and I look forward to my time there. As a resource advocate I work with individual callers on specific issues. Part of my job while working with these callers is identifying legal issues they may be having and finding resources that will hopefully help them resolve their problem. Working with callers is nice because it reminds me that the law is not about reading and analyzing cases. Plus, it is nice to get away from the law school every once in a while!

September 2012

This past month has been filled with studying, writing, and sunshine! Having such great weather has been nice, but it makes it pretty difficult to study at times. I tried to compromise and study while outside, but just ended up getting incredibly sunburned. Now, I study inside, but make sure that I can find somewhere to sit that has a window.

At the beginning of this year, one of my law school friends and I decided that we should start swimming as a way to relieve stress. We have been mostly faithful about going a few times a week and spend our time swimming talking about the cases we have read for class. It is nice to have a swimming buddy who also enjoys dissecting Supreme Court cases, though sometimes we can get a bit excited about how much we disagree with the opinion. Being able to swim and review has been a great way to have some extra study time and have fun!

The majority of my time the past few weeks has been dedicated to working on my brief and oral argument for Legal Writing II. Last year, my favorite class was Legal Writing I and I thought that because I enjoyed it so much, that Legal Writing II would be a cakewalk. Not the case. And it isn't that I don't enjoy the class or the material, but it has been hard for me to write persuasively after spending the entirety of last year being told that I needed to be more objective. Plus, oral arguments are a lot harder than they seem. 10 minutes seems like a really long time, until you start trying to cram every reason why the court should side with you...then it feels like 30 seconds.

Off to finish preparing for my oral argument!