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Seattle University School of Law
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Jonathan Nichols

Jonathan NicholsMy name is Jonathan Nichols and I am thrilled to be moving through my second year of law school. I was raised in the large, urban, border community of El Paso, TX. I didn't move far from home when I went to college and earned my BA in Economics at New Mexico State University. Since I lived my entire life in the same region, I wanted to explore the country after graduating and took a job as an educational consultant in higher education. This experience taught me a lot about myself and I was able to visit 41 states over three years. Once of the places I visited was Seattle, WA, and I thought the city was absolutely beautiful. When it was time to make a change I decided to move to Seattle and it has been the best decision I have ever made. I worked for three years in Seattle before starting law school and I am proud to call the city home. Law school has been a challenging and rewarding experience. While school keeps me really busy, I do make time to do some other activities. In my free time I work out, practice my Spanish, find new restaurants or volunteer with LGBT advocacy groups.

February

Boy, oh boy, am I busy this semester.  One thing many students forget to plan for is the rush of tasks you must complete your last semester.  Today was a big day because I completed my application to sit for the Washington State Bar.  It is an application that asks each applicant to provide detail after detail about your life.  Given that I am a little older, I have that much more life to discuss on the application.  However, it was a labor of love, because I absolutely love the law and this application process is just one more step towards becoming an attorney.  In addition to that bar application, I am paying off what I owe on my bar exam prep course for this summer.  While I have taken a lot of different courses during law school, I still need to make sure I am prepared to tackle those topics on which I never took a lecture.

The rest of the semester is running at full speed.  My externship with the City Attorney’s Office is teaching me a ton about the actual practice of criminal law, managing a case load, and building a record in the courtroom.  It is a great learning experience because it supplements the theory I’ve learned in my lectures.  I must say that nothing prepares you for being asked questions on the spot by a judge with opposing counsel sitting feet away from you.  Add the fact that everything is moving so quickly, and you have yourself a very humbling opportunity that is a great reality check more than anything.  That said, I am glad that I have great supervisors and every attorney in the office has been in my shoes and understands where I’m coming from when I ask a question. 

My classes are manageable because they are more skills-based seminars that allow for discussions to happen in class.  The people who are my colleagues in class make discussions really fun because they each bring a different perspective that challenges me to think more critically and clearly.  Speaking of classmate colleagues, I am having a lot of fun this semester hanging out and making memories with the friends I’ve made in law school.  For instance, tomorrow evening the Latino Law Student Association is having a happy hour on Capitol Hill with the Latino Law Students from UW Law.  It is fun way to connect over our similarities and network with our peers at a different school.

Now I’m home making dinner with my partner, so I’ll sign off.  Stay tuned and I will be sure to share more next month. 

January

My final semester is off to a great start.  I am taking three classes during the late afternoon and evenings: Plea and Sentencing, which is being taught by Judge Trickey; Criminal Motions Practicum, which is being taught by criminal attorney; and Advanced Writing.  The remaining credits are happily being gobbled up by my externship with the City Attorney’s Office.  I was really nervous starting this externship because I know that part of this experience is to appear in court and manage my own trial calendar.  It is the type of work I want to do one day, so I better get these nerves settled fast.

My first week in the office was wonderful.  The attorneys have all been really helpful and appear to be happy that I am in their office.  Many of them went to law school here at Seattle U, and we share some stories about classes, which is a nice way to break the ice.  I am using this time to gain some real courtroom experience and begin building a reputation for myself among the local bar; in particular with the lawyers practicing criminal law.  While we are told from our first day of orientation, and throughout law school, that the legal community is small, I am learning that lesson now.  I have met a number of defense attorneys who are all appearing in court, so they have built great working relationships with the attorney’s from my office and the bench.  I am glad that the law school places so much emphasis on collegiality and fostering relationships.  On my first day in the courthouse I was able to see some new attorneys who were students when I was a 1L and now they are managing their own cases.

It’s the beginning of the semester, so I my stress levels are not too high.  I’m sure in the journal entries to come I will have more drama to share because next month I have to submit my application to sit for the bar exam.  Yikes!  It is hard to believe that my journey in law school is coming to an end, but I am ready for the next set of challenges.  What this fact really means is that I have to make the most of this time and have some fun with my friends during our last semester together.  Cheers.

November 2013

Well the highlight of this month was getting to register for my very last semester of law school.  While I will miss this place when I graduate, it is still exciting to know that I am at the end of a long journey that began well before I ever set foot in Sullivan Hall.  The school work up to this point was demanding, but I feel ready to take on the next challenge.

Like every other November, it is a tough month.  It is tough to wake up before the sun rises.  It is tough to manage all of the deadlines we have with our classes.  This November was also tough because I found out I did not advance in the interview process for a job I wanted.  While I am happy for those who did advance, I still get nervous about the tough job market.  However, I do not regret coming to law school.  I have learned so much, and I am making it a point to take classes during my final semester that interest me.  My goal is to become a litigator and work in the public interest arena so my sights have to remain set on that.  I found out that I will be a Rule 9 extern during my final semester with the Seattle City Attorney's Office and I am really excited about the opportunity to practice law in a limited capacity and meet other attorneys who work in the area where I want to practice one day.

In the spirit of being thankful during November, I suppose I should express my gratitude for the incredible friendships that have been forged during law school.  My classmates are going to be incredible colleagues, and we offer each other so much support during the challenging times and we also celebrate each of our individual success stories.  I will suggest that each law student should make friends while you are in law school.  These people who are in class with you ARE NOT your competition, they are your colleagues.  They know the stress you're feeling and they can be the best sounding board.  Have a happy Thanksgiving and I will write again after finals.  Cheers.

October 2013

Well I am learning that 3L is not nearly as difficult as my first two years of law school.  My classes are going smoothly and I am really enjoying my judicial externship.  However, there is still plenty to do and much to stress over.

Like many of my classmates, I am looking for a job.  I knew when I started law school that the job market was tough for new law school grads, but I don't think it is possible to fully understand just what that means until you're faced with that reality.  When I applied to law school I had every intention of working for the government - federal, local, or state.  I worked hard on my application for the Federal Honors program only to learn that the agency to which I applied was not going to participate due to the recent government shutdown.  I find comfort knowing that the job market is improving, and as many attorneys prepare to retire, there will be jobs in new areas that may be of interest to me.  In any regard, the job hunt is what keeps me up at night and occupies much of my thoughts.

I know I will be alright because I have invested in building experience that will help me when I am applying for a job.  If there is one piece of advice I can offer to any current or perspective law student, it is to take full advantage of opportunities to extern, intern, or do a clinic.  We learn so much in law school, such as conducting thorough legal research and analysis.  One thing most people don't learn on their own is how to practice law.  I am really grateful for the opportunities that exist here at SU Law.  I have been able to extern in a number of different office, and I know I can say with confidence that I want to be a litigation attorney.  My externships, in both civil and criminal law, have shown me just how much I enjoy litigation work.  Drafting winning briefs and conducting discovery to build a good case is really exciting to me.

Aside from the job hunt, I am staying busy with school work and making sure to attend the fun events hosted by the student groups. Maybe I'll have more news to share over the next month.  Until then, back to the books. 

September 2013

I can't believe I am a 3L.  Some say that time flies when you're having fun, so I suppose that means I've been have a lot of fun over the past two years.  My final year of law school is off to a great start.  My summer included me working in Olympia with some incredible attorneys in the office of Senate Committee Services.  While I know I am attracted to litigation work and this experience was not litigation related, I learned so much about offering legal counsel, in the political arena, in a neutral objective manner.  I couldn't have asked for a more exciting time to be working with the legislature: there was a budget battle; two special sessions; and plenty of heated debate.  I sat front row for all of this excitement, and learned how much work goes into making our state operate.

My final year of law school is off to a great start, despite this gnawing anxiety in the back of my head about the fact that I am finishing law school in less than a year, need to prepare for the bar exam, AND find a job.  Among the many things law school has taught me, I know how to handle a busy agenda with lots of items on my plate.  My class schedule is not too demanding this semester.  I'm not sure if this feeling is because of my classes, or because I finally know how to be a good law student.

The best part of this semester is that I am working as a judicial extern in King County Superior Court.  My judge is an incredibly smart person who is providing me with challenging assignments and great feedback on my work product.  If there is one piece of advice I would offer to any law student, is take full advantage of opportunities to gain practical experience.  I think the numerous externship and clinic opportunities offered by Seattle University cannot be beat.  We are located in an incredible city within blocks of the legal epicenter for the region.

Beyond my time in class and my externship, I am aggressively pursuing opportunities to learn about the area of law I most want to practice - criminal litigation.  In fact, this semester our Center for Professional Development ("CPD") is putting on a series of panel discussions on Thursdays featuring alumni who share their stories about the paths they took to be in their current positions.  I just met a prosecutor who gave me some great advice.  Perhaps in the months to come I will share more stories about my adventures in networking.  Until then, I need to hit the books and keep up on my classes.

April 2013

I can't believe I am almost finished with my second year of law school.  Looking back, I can say that 2L was a lot more difficult than 1L; Legal Writing II, Constitutional Law, dealing with OCI, making summer plans, and over committing to other activities like Moot Court Board and the journals, all made for a difficult academic year. That said, I can look back on the year and see all that I have learned, in classes and with managing multiple projects, and say that I am prepared to handle the challenges of 3L, the bar, and the job hunt.  I am glad I am prepared for these challenges because my friends who are 3Ls are all warning me about the anxiety that comes with preparing to graduate.

The best advice I could give to any prospective law student is to plan for the worst.  I offer this advice because so many of my friends are dealing with the anxiety of having to pay for a bar prep course or how to support themselves in that "limbo" period between the bar exam and a job offer.  Those who are not as nervous seem to have used a budget to make their financial aid last through this period and have also taken advantage of as many of the networking opportunities the law school offers students.I am really glad I heard this advice and decided to use this advice.  I am frugal with my financial aid award, I have volunteered in community clinics, taken externships, and sought out summer internships.  All of these steps can be taken by all of us, but for some reason our colleagues don't take advantage of these opportunities.  It makes me a little sad to know some really smart people are facing these problems that are easy to mitigate.  No matter how sad I get, I have to remember that I am in no position to count my chickens before they hatch.  I still need to outline and take some practice exams since finals are only two weeks away.  Yikes!The one thing that is helping me stay sane is exercise.  If you have read my other journal entries you'll know that I was participating in a fitness challenge that he SU gym.  The competition ended at the beginning of this month.  I WON!  It was so fun to be competing at something that is not my primary interest and do well.  I am not just sharing this story to brag, but rather to stress how important it is to find some type of outlet to deal with the stress of law school.  Competing in this fitness challenge has sparked some great conversations with the attorneys in the office where I am an extern.  It is fun to build rapport with others and gets all of us out of talking only about the law.  These attorneys know I am a real person with other interests and they then share their interest like backpacking or musical theatre.  A second piece of advice I'd offer to all law students is to find a non-law hobby; it just might make for a fun way to "break the ice" at a networking event.Now it's time for me to head out and enjoy some of this Seattle sunshine before hitting the books.

March 2013

Law school is sucking all of my time!  There is just no better way to say how my life is going.  While I really enjoyed my spring break and made it a point to take time away from school, now I feel like I am in "catch up" mode, but it was well worth the break.  I am making some time to eat once a week with my friends who are not in law school with me.  This routine is helping me stay sane and I would encourage all law students to avoid neglecting your life outside of law school.  The seasons are changing and as the sun begins to shine in Seattle, it becomes more difficult to find motivation to study.

My classes are keeping really busy.  I absolutely love my Evidence class.  Professor Mitchell is amazing and we are covering the tough rules now.  Since I know I want to become a litigator, a good understanding of the rules of evidence is a paramount to my future success.  It is fun to be taking this class along with my Pre-Trial Advocacy class because the subjects do overlap in some ways and both seem to focus on skills rather than theory.  My externship is still going well, and I even decided to go work for two days over my spring break because my assignments are than interesting.  I would definitely encourage all law students to apply for some type of externship where you can get practical experience and engage in real work.March is a long month and I am getting sick and even had to miss class.  I hate missing class because I feel lost afterwards, but what I can't stand even more is when sick students come to school and get others sick, so I don't mind missing in order to get well.  Be considerate when you get sick and stay home because we are all stressed and don't need to share any more germs.  I'm better now and back to my study and fitness routine.  I am making a lot of progress in the "Biggest Muscle Gainer" competition I am competing in.  Next month I will be able to report on how I placed, so check back in.  It's now time for me to get started with outlining.

February 2013

I should know better than to think my semester is not stressful simply because I like my schedule a little more than I did the previous semester.  My externship wonderful and I am getting to work on some really interesting cases.  It is tough because I have never taken and employment law or administrative law class.  However, my legal writing classes that I complained about are really coming in handy.  Since I am unfamiliar with the substantive areas of law that are covered in my office, I get to do a lot of research and am enjoying it.  Now I am going to take an employment law class before I graduate.

My Pre-Trial Advocacy class is a lot of fun and the assignments are helping me understand what lawyers are expected to do.  It is nice that I don't have to do any research and I am focusing more on the type of writing that is needed in preparation for trial.  That said, the class is offered late in the evening and I am on campus until 9:30pm.  Given that my externship is during the day, this late class makes for some very long days.Outside of the classroom things are going well.  In fact, I signed up for a fitness contest at the Seattle University gym.  I know it may sound silly, but I am naturally a competitive person and I am making my fitness more of a priority.  It is a fun way to handle the stress of school and work.  Plus, I am learning so much about building a weight training program.  Let's see how I do with my goals of cutting body fat and gaining lean muscle mass for this competition.  Stay tuned!

January 2013

My spring semester is off to a great start.  Even though law school is stressful and demanding, I still can't believe that I am halfway through this journey.  I lived through Legal Writing II, which is one of the more difficult classes we must all take, and now I am able to take Comprehensive Pre-Trial Advocacy.  This class is lots of fun because I am learning a lot of practical skills that I can use in litigation practice.  Legal Writing II is a required prerequisite for this class and given the type of writing required in this class, I can see why.  I would recommend any student take this class because the professors address so many different issues that come up when representing clients in our adversarial legal system.

Not only do I feel like I am growing as a law student because of this class, I am also in a part time externship with the Department of Labor.  As an extern I get to help my supervising attorneys with some fascinating legal issues in the context of litigation in public service.  Not only am I getting some great experience that will help me in the future I am also getting wonderful constructive feedback that is helping me become a better writer.  It feels good to know that the stress I encountered in Legal Writing is getting put to good use.Given that I have a better schedule this semester, I am able to make my health a priority again.  Sadly, last semester I was not going to the gym as much as would have liked to nor was I eating correctly.  I would advise any future law student to come up with a plan of how you will maintain your health in law school, and in your career as an attorney.  Exercise is a great way to manage the stress of law school and it is helping me so much.  It's still early in this semester and I hope I can report in the months to come that my experience is still going as well as it started.  Stay tuned!

December 2012

So where did my fall semester go?  I can't believe I'm stressed about finals already.  It seems like I was just finishing up my first year of law school but now that I've been able to get involved in a few other activities, the time seems to be flying by.  My final oral argument in Legal Writing II is over, which from that you can infer that I have submitted my final brief.  Having legal writing off my agenda is making it a little easier to focus on the finals I have.  I'm eating a bunch of leftovers from Thanksgiving and trying to make sense of Constitutional Law.  It is hard to believe that in a couple of weeks I will be half way finished with law school.  It has been quite the journey to get to this point.  From preparing for the LSAT and having to read my first few cases over and over again to understand what these judges are saying, I feel like I am slowly becoming the attorney I would like to be.  Before I get too far ahead of myself, I am going get through finals and enjoy the winter vacation. 

My spring semester is off to a great start.  Even though law school is stressful and demanding, I still can't believe that I am halfway through this journey.  I lived through Legal Writing II, which is one of the more difficult classes we must all take, and now I am able to take Comprehensive Pre-Trial Advocacy.  This class is lots of fun because I am learning a lot of practical skills that I can use in litigation practice.  Legal Writing II is a required prerequisite for this class and given the type of writing required in this class, I can see why.  I would recommend any student take this class because the professors address so many different issues that come up when representing clients in our adversarial legal system. Not only do I feel like I am growing as a law student because of this class, I am also in a part time externship with the Department of Labor.  As an extern I get to help my supervising attorneys with some fascinating legal issues in the context of litigation in public service.  Not only am I getting some great experience that will help me in the future I am also getting wonderful constructive feedback that is helping me become a better writer.  It feels good to know that the stress I encountered in Legal Writing is getting put to good use. Given that I have a better schedule this semester, I am able to make my health a priority again.  Sadly, last semester I was not going to the gym as much as would have liked to nor was I eating correctly.  I would advise any future law student to come up with a plan of how you will maintain your health in law school, and in your career as an attorney.  Exercise is a great way to manage the stress of law school and it is helping me so much.  It's still early in this semester and I hope I can report in the months to come that my experience is still going as well as it started.  Stay tuned!

November 2012

I cannot believe it is already November.  While I am happy the semester seems to be going by so fast, I am also so busy that I do feel a bit lost at times.  This feeling is not unique to me.  My friends and I have been talking about some of the issues we are encountering with the 2L workload and the elusive job hunt.  I'm thrilled that I did get a job offer for the summer and that is one less thing to stress about.  Legal Writing II is proving to be an incredibly difficult and time consuming class.  My final appellate brief is due in just over a week and I'm struggling with a few parts.  Thankfully, the legal writing faculty is really accessible and I have an appointment with my professor to discuss, on-on-one, how I can improve particular portions of my draft.  The oral argument component of the class is no longer the portion I'm stressed about since I have been able to do a couple of different arguments in this class.  Watching a video of me argue is a little weird, and while I noticed some areas where I need to improve, I can see how I am an attorney in the making.  I would have never expected one year ago as a 1L that I would be as comfortable with arguing about points of law like I am expected to do now.

Aside from the stress of classes, I'm also on the Moot Court Board and on one of our academic journals.  These two activities are keeping pretty busy and I feel like I am living in Sullivan Hall.  I'm glad the building is pretty comfortable and my friends and I seem to make it a point to head to the Chieftain at least once a week for food and drinks.  I'm trying to get to the gym for a workout on a regular basis, but I'm falling short on that goal right now.

October 2012

My goodness!  This semester seems to keep getting busier by the day.  Legal Writing II is quite a bit of work and I am having a tough time staying on top of all the work along with reading for my other classes.  All the 2Ls are required to take Constitutional Law during the fall semester and this class, while very interesting, is a lot of reading.  The Supreme Court's decisions regarding federalism are proving to be quite the challenge.  My professor does make class enjoyable and that is good because I know I can count on getting a better grasp on the material after class.  I'm also taking some electives in a few different areas of law.  The subjects are interesting to me and I'm noticing that the reading is more enjoyable than it was during 1L.  

The stress is compounded right now because I have also been participating in the On Campus Interview process (OCI) and that is taking up a lot of time to not only interview, but to prepare for interviews with specific employers.  It feels really odd to be sitting outside of interview rooms with my friends from class, who I know I am competing against for the same summer job.  I've already been getting some rejection emails and that can be a bit demoralizing, but I told myself to expect this before I applied for these jobs.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get at least one offer.

September 2012

My second year of law school is keeping me really busy.  I decided to take Legal Writing II during my fall semester of 2L rather than the spring.  My professor wasted no time getting us ready for the adventure that is ahead of us.  I had my first practice oral argument the second week of class.  It's hard for me to believe that my professor, or anybody for that matter, is expecting me to argue like a real attorney in a courtroom.  While I was nervous, I just did my best to remember the techniques my professor taught us in class, and also tried to say on topic without getting lost on those irrelevant facts that are part of our problem.

I spent my summer working in the King County Prosecutor's Office and I really enjoyed that experience.  The attorneys to whom I was assigned are not only outstanding trial attorneys but also set a great example of what it means to be a public servant.  My summer experience is part of the reason I decided to take Legal Writing II in the fall semester.  My intentions are to not only get this required class out of the way, but also to be able to enroll in classes like Pre-Trial Advocacy sooner, which require Legal Writing II as a prerequisite.  While I knew I was drawn towards some type of public interest law, my summer experience exposed me to trial work and I think that is something I would like to pursue now.  First I have to finish this semester.