Lunch, Law, and Learn

BY Saara Maknojia

Capitalizing on the hard work of Professor Kurt Smith with the Political Science department, the LEAP Ambassadors and Jocelyn Vazquez recently enjoyed a short but informative lunch with Judge Jamie Rene Roman and Dr. Kurt Smith, learning about law, politics, and life.

Judge Roman served as a Judge in California after being appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Although Judge Roman acquired his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, he continued his education after law school at Boston University to obtain his L.L.M, allowing him to specialize in International Banking law!

Upon entering the room, Judge Roman began his greetings and empowered us with his experience as a young attorney working. As we talked about our career goals and what would be next after we graduated from SHSU, Judge Roman, Dr. Kurt Smith and the LEAP members began to unravel the packaged deli sandwiches catered by Aramark for our small group lunch. 

Stressing the importance of education and a great work ethic in law school, Judge Roman advised us on what to look out for once we begin our careers and what to expect in law school.

His advice for not only law school, but the LSAT gaged us to have a deeper understanding of the importance of what steps are needed to go to the law schools that we want. 

Judge Roman discussed the hardships that he faced in his career as he witnessed the dynamic yet bitter truth about family law and shared with us how busy every day would be with the incoming cases. He shared his insights regarding any questions we had, some of which related to the BAR exam for California and how it compared to the Texas Bar exam.

We also asked Judge Roman questions relating to the difference in court structures in California and in Texas. Judge Roman explained how he got a good grounding in the law by rotating, spending two years as a judge in one type of court, two years in another, and four years in another. This gave him the kind of all-around foundation that we one day hope to achieve.

On behalf of the LEAP Ambassadors , a big thank you to Judge Roman for taking the time to speak with us and and offer advice, and another thank you to Dr. Smith for setting up such a meeting. And Thank you for visiting SHSU!

LEAP Center Hosts Law-School/Grad-School Seminar

Almost fifty students attended the Law School/Grad School Seminar hosted by the Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP) earlier this month. The seminar featured Karissa Morissey from Princeton Review; Stephen Perez, Dean of Students at Texas Tech Law School; Kathryn Meyer, Director of Recruitment from the Bush School at Texas A&M University; and Thomas Leeper, attorney with Smither, Martin, Henderson, and Blazek.

Students and Panelists at the LEAP Center Legal Seminar
Students & Panelists at LEAP Seminar

Their advice was to the point and useful. Karissa Morrissey provded a helpful overview of the LSAT and GRE, offering a timeline for preparing for graduate school or law school. High points included:

  • The LSAT ranges from 120-180; The GRE ranges from 130-170
  • The LSAT is offered four times a year (Feb, Jun, Oct, Dec), while the GRE offers more frequent tests
  • The LSAT should be taken approximately a year prior to when the students wants to enroll in Law School.
  • The Princeton Review offers Prep Courses at SHSU in the spring of each year.

Dean Stephen Perez stressed the importance of the LSAT Scores and a student’s GPA, while pointing to Tech’s strong rates on bar passage, employment, and the excellent performance of students in Moot Court and Mock Trials.  Also, the National Jurist magazine ranked Tech among the top 10 in the country in both “overall value” and “student satisfaction.” Perhaps not surprisingly, more SHSU students are enrolling in Tech, with four Bearkats matriculating last year.  Dean Perez seems to be intent on duplicating that success this year, offering the students who attended the seminar fee waivers to apply to Texas Tech.

Dean Perez Discusses Law School Admissions
Perez Discusses Law School Admissions

Kathryn Meyer caught students’ attention when she discussed the programs of the Bush School of Public Service. The Bush School is a top 35 Public Administration across the country, featuring broad programs in Administration and International Affairs and endeavoring to keep students’ costs low.  SHSU boasts more graduates at the Bush School than any other University in the nation with the exception of Texas A & M.

Thomas Leeper’s discussion bridged both law and public affairs.  Leeper has served as an attorney in private practice, a city attorney, and a political appointee.  Leeper discussed life in law school (giving particular attention to the Socratic Method), the kind of work that attorneys do, and the importance of public service.

The Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP) promotes learning opportunities across diverse disciplines at SHSU.  Over the past seven years, SHSU has significantly increased its efforts in the pre-law field, doubling the number of students accepted to law schools in the United States.  Moreover, last year, SHSU moved in the top five percent nationally in the Law School Admissions Council’s (LSAC) ranking of “Law School Feeders.”


Careers in Politics: Day 1–According to Brian King

On September 20th, 2013, seven students (including myself) from Sam Houston State University’s L.E.A.P. (Law, Engagement, and Politics) Program departed from Huntsville, Texas en route to Dallas, Texas for the New Politics Forum Event, which takes place on Saturday, September 21st. This event is geared toward college undergraduates and graduates, who are interested in a future career within the field of politics.

Despite the windy, rainy weather during our travel, we successfully managed to stop for lunch at the Woodbine Hotel / Restaurant in Madisonville, Texas.  Madisonville, as some of you know, is the mushroom capital of Texas, so it wasn’t surprising that many of the fine entrees came with mushrooms.  The lunch also offered the chance for us to know one another.  We had an International Business major, a Criminal Justice major, and, of course, Political Science majors, but we were all united in our desire to be engaged in civics.  The Woodbine also offered us a chance to see interesting antiques, the most interesting of which was an antique phone booth.

Continuing through the rough weather and mild traffic, the students arrived in Dallas, Texas around 4:30pm and went to the Sixth Floor Museum, located at Dealey Plaza in Downtown Dallas.

Dealey Plaza Marker, Dallas
Dealey Plaza Marker, Dallas

The Sixth Floor Museum examined the life, times, death, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. I really enjoyed the museum’s depiction of John F. Kennedy, along with the countless photographs and memorabilia from the time of his presidency.

Following the Sixth Floor Museum tour, the students ventured to the Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner. At the restaurant, we continued to talk about political and school related affairs, as well as who our favorite presidents were. Some students liked Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Calvin Coolidge, while I opted for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After dinner, the students embarked to the Dallas Museum of Art, which offered a special late night tour. Throughout the Dallas Museum of Art, I admired the American Art, as well as the Egyptian Art. Leadbelly, by Michael Owen Jr., is an example of one of the sculptures I enjoyed, especially given the background of the sculpture only taking a month to create.

Huddie Ledbetter, AKA Leadbelly
Huddie Ledbetter, AKA Leadbelly

I should also note that this piece has a connection to my adopted hometown of Huntsville, Texas, which features a mural of Leadbelly on a downtown storefront.

Coffin of Horankh, representing a coffin in the form of a human body, also caught my attention. This body of art was common within the Egyptian culture, as a means of “magically” assuring eternal life.

Coffin of Horankh
Coffin of Horankh

Overall, I enjoyed the first day of the New Politics Event Forum trip, from the Chicken Caesar Salad at Woodbine Hotel / Restaurant to the aspect of engaging in different cultures at the Dallas Museum of Art. Finally, I look forward to sharing my experience from the New Politics Conference tomorrow at Southern Methodist University.