Hello, my name is Thomas Just. I grew up in Indianapolis as a national gymnast. After high school I joined the U.S. Air Force and traveled the world as an intelligence analyst for six years. Then I took off the uniform and studied Philosophy and Government as a Longhorn at the University of Texas at Austin. During my undergraduate studies I became heavily involved in politics and was fortunate enough to become a Congressional Aide. During that time I became fascinated with the process of law. Though the decision to go to law school can be daunting it became clear to me that Seattle University School of Law is where I belong. When I am not studying I enjoy photography and playing competitive chess.
I am looking forward to sleeping in again guilt free. Final exams are upon us and I am spending a lot of time making my outlines a thing out beauty. I am also trying to make my legal writing memo look like a polished piece of art. The good thing is that I feel like I am starting to see the forest through the trees. So much of the semester has been about granular analysis and the plain reading of statues. Its reassuring to begin to be able to put the seemingly disparate pieces into a cohesive picture. I used to play chess competitively and so being able to see the whole board and thus the big picture is necessary for me. I am very much a visual person.
It was really difficult to leave my friends behind in Austin Texas when I moved here. I didn't know what to expect in terms of settling in and creating a new network. My experience thus far in some ways reminds me of my time in the Air Force. I spend every day sitting next to the same people in class and am surrounded by some awesome people. While law school is competitive, that is not really the vibe I have found. Most take the attitude that we are all in this together and we are all trying to do our best to survive.
Law school has a way of taking over and rewiring your mind. I've even noticed the way I read and think has completely changed. As an example: I went into a restaurant the other day and someone had dropped a glass of beer. So there was broken glass on a wet floor. In my head, I immediately started doing a tort negligence analysis. What strikes me is that we all play by the same rules; but we do not all know what the rules are. This seems problematic to me for a number of reasons. In keeping with the Tort theme, I watched the new documentary called Hot Coffee and it was really interesting to see how that lined up with what I've been learning. Aside from that though because most people don't know how the law works, it allows major changes in our legal system with what I think is insufficient accountability. I've been thinking a lot about what my role should be in society once I pass the bar. Thus far I have been really fortunate to find a great group of fellow law school students who are asking many of the same questions. I'm also happy to have professors that take the time to tease out many of the ethical implications of the law in addition to ensuring their students know the law itself.
In terms of the work life balance in law school I have returned to Bikram Yoga and that has been amazingly helpful for my state of mind. There is a huge difference for me when I am consistently practicing. As a law school student I spend a disproportionate amount of time in my head. I think its incredibly important to have a time where you clear your mind and be physically present. I also need that physical exercise and the reminder to eat healthier foods. Managing stress is an absolute critical skill that yoga excels at teaching. This month I also had to fly home for a funeral and I have been really impressed at how understanding and flexible all of my professors have been. They have bent over backwards to make sure I got all of the materials and not fall behind.
I am also learning what kinds of law I find fascinating and am good at it. Criminal law, while interesting, is not my cup of tea. However, I love contracts and they feel very intuitive to me. This is sort of a relief to get into the weeds and find out there are areas of the law I seem to enjoy and excel in. Lastly, it does not rain here nearly as much as I was told it would before I got here.
I learned how to speak French as an undergraduate and was fortunate enough to do immersion while in Haiti for a summer. I remember feeling as though I was only grasping a fraction of what was going on. Fortunately, I embraced the experience and dove in headfirst. Slowly the language came together for me and the next thing I knew I was having a full blown political argument in French. At the moment, with regard to law school, I am in that former phase. So I am, once again, embracing the adventure of being thrown into the deep end. In the meantime, I'm just hoping it all comes together before the final exams.
I have noticed more than a few differences between undergrad and law school thus far. First, the reading assigned in law school is not a mere suggestion; it is absolutely necessary. Every class is run by the socratic method; which I prefer. The good thing is that as an undergraduate I took a lot of classes using this approach. By and large people dress a lot nicer and law school is a more professional environment. As a veteran there is something about an ironed shirt that makes me feel at home. I also appreciate the bluntness of my professors. So far they have let me know exactly what they expect and given corrections when needed. I am also starting to adjust to a new city. I moved to Seattle from Austin and when I left it was 103 degrees. I miss many things, but the heat is not one of them. Culturally these two cities have a lot in common, but Seattle feels bigger and more urban. I am loving the convenience of it all. Plus I am in coffee snob heaven. There are so many great coffee shops. So far Stumptown and Milstead are my favorites. I also joined the Seattle Chess Club and view the Friday evening rated game as my reward and escape for the week.