Class of 2016
B.A., Environmental Studies
University of Montana, Missoula
What did you do before law school, and what led to you pursue a law degree?
I grew up in my family business, Taylor Shellfish Farms, in Washington state. I am a fifth-generation shellfish farmer and our company grows oysters, mussels, clams, and geoduck. My great great grandfather started farming shellfish in the south Puget Sound in the 1890s on beaches that my family continues to farm today. We have farms all around Washington, as well as in California, Hawaii, and British Columbia. We are the largest shellfish producer in the United States.
I grew up on the Puget Sound and spent many high school and college summers working the tide. After graduating from the University of Montana, I moved back to Olympia to work for my family business. Initially, I spent time gaining experience in different aspects of our farms, from hatcheries to harvest. Eventually, I transitioned from the tide to the office to work in public affairs. I think almost everyone at Taylor Shellfish would say they do a little of everything, but I currently spend most of my time on policy and regulatory coordination.
After coming home to work, I quickly decided that getting a law degree would greatly benefit my family business. Shellfish require clean water and healthy ecosystems. My family has always played a role in protecting our natural resources for the long-term so that we can continue to farm shellfish for generations to come. Shellfish farmers are faced with new and familiar challenges today with ocean acidification, water quality, and marine ecosystem health. I decided that getting my law degree at Seattle University was the best way to begin to meet these challenges and prepare to meet future ones, and pass on my family business for another five generations.
What have you found most valuable during your law school education?
So far, I would value the Legal Writing Program the most. I feel like my writing skills have improved more over the last year than they ever have. I use these writing skills directly in my job and they have made me more efficient and effective.
Also, the evening program is a particularly special program. I am only able to get my degree because I have the chance to work full-time while attending law school. One of my favorite aspects of the evening program is the other students. The evening program attracts a diverse group of people with responsibilities outside of class and a diversity of opinions from hard-working individuals. I have the pleasure of being part of a group that includes paralegals; parents; Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft employees; scientists; and people working from the private, public, and non-profit sectors. I benefit greatly from their knowledge and support.
What advice would you offer a prospective law student?
Find a balance that works for you and be flexible. Of course, students have to work hard to succeed at law school. But don’t forget about your other responsibilities, including taking care of yourself. Also remember that there is no perfect way to do things and things don’t always work out the way you expect them to (if you are like me, they hardly ever do). Being flexible allows you to shift your priorities so that you can accomplish all of the things you need to and be prepared while not caving to pressure and stress.