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Seattle University School of Law
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Philip Chinn

Philip Chinn

Class of 2014

B.A., The Evergreen State College

What did you do before law school, and what led you to pursue a law degree?

Between completing my undergraduate degree and law school, I was a plaintiff in civil rights litigation based on my false arrest on my way to an anti-war protest. I eventually received a settlement and used the money to travel around the United States for a bit before coming to law school.

What activities were you involved in at the law school or in the community?

I was involved in the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), both the SU Law chapter and the Seattle chapter. I was a board member of the SU Law NLG chapter all three years of law school. I was the student representative for the Seattle chapter from 2012-2013, and I was the Seattle chapter secretary from 2013-2014. I was also involved with SU Law’s Criminal Justice Society as a 1L and 2L. I was also a research and technical editor on Seattle University Law Review.

What did you find most valuable during your law school education?

The school’s emphasis on practical experience was very valuable. Every course I took focused not only on doctrine, but also on the practical implications of those doctrines for day-to-day practice. I also took several courses with a primary focus on building skills for practice, such as forensics, trial advocacy, and criminal motions practice. These courses taught me not only what the law is, but also how the practice of law works. My coursework also stressed the importance of civility in the practice of law, which has been extremely valuable. Additionally, the school’s emphasis on externships allowed me to gain valuable experience in the real world.

What advice would you offer a prospective law student?

I would offer three pieces of advice. First, law school is a lot of work and can be stressful at times. Make sure that you take time to keep yourself from burning out. It’s important to maintain the friendships that you had before starting law school. Second, don’t be afraid of taking time for yourself. While law school will keep you very busy, you should take opportunities to relax when you can. There always seems to be more to do, but it’s important to allow yourself some free time during law school. Finally, try and gain as much real-world experience as possible, and take courses that build practical skills. From my experiences at internships and externships, a lot of what takes place in the day-to-day practice of law isn’t the doctrine you learn in law school. While it’s very important to have a good grasp on the doctrine, it’s also important to know procedure and know how to work effectively with clients. Most of the case law is at the appellate level, which doesn’t always reflect how trial-level practice works.

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