Ambling through Austin: Day 3

BookPeople and Fresa’s Mexican Cantina

Yvette Mendoza

The LEAP Ambassadors began waiting in line to enter BookPeople, voted the Best Bookstore in Austin for the past 20 years or so. We explored their array of books, consisting of politics, poetry, and even classic novels–and that was just the first floor!

On our way to the second floor, we noticed a painting of a Blue Dog, by the American Artist George Rodrigue. Interestingly, he did the painting while in the bookstore for a booksigning. Talk about a productive visit!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, BookPeople, George Rodrigue

Alongside the Blue Dog were pictures of all the authors who have come to do book signings at BookPeople. These authors include former President Bill Clinton, Stephen Harrigan, Meg Gardiner, and Jeff Guinn. In fact, the LEAP Ambassadors had attended some of these!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, BookPeople, Jeff Guinn

We all enjoyed the bookstore, and we each picked out at least one book from genres that included politics, history, crime, and classics.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, BookPeople, Jeff Guinn

Following our trip to the bookstore, we visited Austin’s Fresa’s Mexican Cantina. We started with classic appetizers such as queso, guacamole dip, chips, and tortillas. For the main meal, we had specialty tacos: Pulled Achiote Chicken and Agave-Lime Chicken. As for the other entrees, they were Power Bols packed with agave lime chicken, sweet potato, garbanzo beans, and fresh spinach. The waiter was so kind to bring us two homemade sauces, one being jalapeno and the other creamy ranch.

Surprisingly, a side dish of crispy brussels sprouts was seasoned so well with Pasilla Aioli that it made vegetables something you would go out of your way to eat!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Fresa's

We topped off our afternoon with a sweet dessert of ice cream in two different flavors, cookies and cream and strawberry guava with a sugar cookie on top, as well as the churros with cajeta.

We left the restaurant full and happy.

Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History

By Morgan Robertson

For our final major stop on the Austin trip, we visited the Bob Bullock Museum. Our learning not only involved the exhibits, but also several tutorials on using a camera.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History

The four-story museum covers the pre-contact era to the modern times. One of my favorite displays was the contents and items found on a Spanish ship, including 371 cannon shots, 785,000 glass beads (that would have been used for trading), 675 axel heads, and a large collection of dishware.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History

Of course, Texas history was thrown into the mix with an emphasis on Sam Houston, learning more about the namesake of our University.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History

It was nice to learn more about this great Texan, particularly as students from SHSU.

Of course, we also learned about Texas’s fight for independence, role in the space program, technological developments, gas and oil, and indigenous wildlife.

Within the museum, the LEAP Ambassadors attended an IMAX documentary called Into America’s Wild. This film highlighted the outdoors, and featured many spectacular scenes in the United States.

It also featured many individuals from underrepresented populations, highlighting how the outdoors has transformed their lives.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History

The inspirational tone from the documentary left us with a sense of longing to chase adventures and exploration.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History

     Finally to conclude the trip, the LEAP Ambassadors stopped at the local bakery, Quacks. Amongst some of the chosen pastries were giant chocolate chip and ginger cookies, raspberry lemon cupcakes, apple crumble pie, butter croissants, and raspberry tea cookies. On the car ride home, LEAP ambassadors shared and conversed over different baked goods, leaving our stomachs and hearts full for the ride home.

https://www.quacksbakery.com/

Ambling through Austin: Day 2

“Competitive Kayaking”

By Morgan Robertson

Competing with the wind, currents, and occasionally each other, the LEAP Ambassadors spent the morning kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. Jessica and Yvette were partnered in one kayak, while Quinn and I were in the other.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Kayaking

We set off upstream with skills ranging from novice to Eagle Scout and everywhere in between.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Kayaking

Initially, finding a paddling rhythm was difficult, but after a few minutes of trial and error, we figured things out.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Kayaking

Naturally, kayaking became a competition. In general, Quinn and I held the lead, followed closely by Professor Yawn and Stephanie (who, in addition to rowing, handled all photography responsibilities)…


SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Kayaking

and finally, Jessica and Yvette in the back (who did their own version of photography).

We enjoyed racing across the water, trying new paddling techniques, and observing the local landscape and architecture lining the reservoir.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Kayaking

After kayaking left us hungry, the Ambassadors turned to a local burger spot called P. Terry’s, whose menu consisted of hamburgers, cheeseburgers…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, PTerrys

chicken-burgers, fries and shakes.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Kayaking

Settling at Treaty Oak for lunch…

…the group learned about the 700-year-old tree and its history. We found out that Treaty Oak had served as a meeting site for the Comanche tribe and Steven F. Austin, as well as a place for Sam Houston to visit during his time as governor. We wrapped up lunch with quick selfies…

…and LEAPing photo by an ATX sculpture.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX

“What Lies Beneath”: Meeting Daniel Arredondo

By Jessica Cuevas

After lunch, the LEAP Ambassadors embarked on a trip to Daniel Arredondo’s beautiful art studio. Mr. Arredondo is known for his tree and landscape artwork with acrylic paint that comes in a variety of different mediums. He has a unique and creative art style in which he depicts not only what the eye can see but what may be found on the other side or under the landscape.  

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Art, Daniel Arredondo

Arredondo has always painted landscapes, and has a particular affinity for trees. It was not until he sat down with his wife to watch the movie, What Lies Beneath, that he got the inspiration to include things beyond what the eye can see into his paintings. He shared with us that he enjoys drawings trees because they are beings of nature that are not that unlike humans; just like us, they come in different sizes and kinds.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Art, Daniel Arredondo

Every single one of his paintings is unique in the sense that they each tell their own personal stories or deliver a unique message. Even those that appear to be similar have a different origin and story to tell.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Art, Daniel Arredondo

In every art piece Arredondo creates, a piece of his heart is left behind. He loves his paintings so much that he treats them as the treasure they are. In fact, he lives by the motto that he hopes to catch the viewer’s attention and hold on to it for every possible second.

We walked away from his studio pleased not only with new pieces of art (some purchased, some given as a gift), but also with the advice of starting a collection of something we truly find fascinating or interesting. I am unsure of what I will start collecting, but I am looking forward to the process.

We greatly appreciate Mr. Arredondo for coming out to his art gallery and giving us a personal tour of his studio. We will never forget his kindness and generosity.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Art, Daniel Arredondo

Dinner in Salado

By Yvette Mendoza

In the evening we arrived in Salado, Texas, and ventured into various local stores. Each store had its own unique handcrafted art, which ranged from handmade jewelry to blown glass. In Benton’s jewelry store, we met the owner, Bob Hargrove, who made all the pearl necklaces, diamond encrusted earrings, and sterling silver rings that are sold. Salado’s Glasswork shop had handmade blown glass, which was blown in a separate, colossal room at the shop. Walking alongside the shopping center, we encountered the ruins of the Salado College, which was founded in 1860.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Salado College Ruins

While observing the bluebonnet-filled remains of the building, we learned intriguing facts about how much tuition was in the 1800’s (certainly not as much as today) and what the school’s rules consisted of, which also probably are unenforceable today.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Salado College Ruins

Continuing our journey through Salado, LEAP Ambassadors met with the Edwards (Rocky and Lauren) at their lovely ranch. Lauren’s father was the founder of the Friends of the Old Town Theatre nonprofit in Huntsville, which Lauren now presides over as president.

Shortly after we arrived, Lauren showed us how to feed a baby calf, which was both exciting and nerve wracking.

She also provided a fascinating tour of her greenhouse and other outdoor areas. Inside her greenhouse she showed us the fascinating secondhand stained glass and doors she had saved and repurposed from her parents’ and grandparents’ homes.

After petting their horse (Barbie), watching Rocky call in the heifers with his voice alone, and petting the cows…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Rocky and Lauren Edwards

…we got to eat delectable grilled burgers.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Salado College Ruins

Lastly, Lauren gave us Native American arrowheads that were from the Salado creek, where various tribes had resided, which was greatly appreciated. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for their graciousness and hospitality, and we look forward to visiting again soon! This was definitely a great end to our day.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, ATX, Salado

Ambling through Austin: Day 1

On the LEAP Ambassadors’ first day (or actually, evening!) touring downtown Austin, we walked through lively streets filled with loud music and a diverse array of people. For many of us, it was the first time to sixth street, which we traveled on simply to get to our restaurant. The travel was a bit slow going, owing to the maskless throngs (from which we took wide berth) and aggressive requests for money.

For dinner, we stopped at the Mediterranean restaurant CAVA.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, CAVA

The appetizing assortment of options ranged from lamb to falafel, which were topped with a variety of savory and sweet sauces, as well as other toppings.  Although we had all had Mediterranean food previously, we did try new food items, whether it was falafel or tzatziki sauce, and we were very pleased!

After wrapping up dinner, we walked up Congress Avenue, stopping near the statue of Angelina Eberly. Ms. Eberly was well connected, having hosted both Presidents Lamar and Houston in her home, but that did not impress her much. In fact, in 1842, when President Houston sent emissaries to remove the state archives from Austin and relocate them, Ms. Eberly greeted his officials’ with a cannon, thus repelling efforts to relocate the archives and capital. This “archives war” is preserved in Pat Oliphant’s statue prominently featured on Congress.

As we made our way further up Congress Ave, we took a moment to observe the Texas Capitol. Unfortunately, the gates to the Capitol were closed, and we had to view–and photograph–it from afar.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, Capitol Building

Across the street is Governor’s Mansion, where the LEAP Ambassadors were surprised (and excited) to encounter Governor Greg Abbott’s two golden retrievers. We weren’t positive of their identities, but Blake Roach, who works for the Governor, provided us with the dogs’ names (peaches and pancake) and a bit about their personalities!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Austin TX, Governor's Mansion

Thus armed with knowledge, we posed with Peaches and Pancake and provided us with a very satisfying beginning to our trip.

A Historical Tour of the 20th Century with Jeff Guinn

By Jessica Cuevas

Today we had the honor of hosting a LEAP LIVE with NY Times best-selling author, Jeff Guinn. Guinn began by telling us that he had hoped to be an author since he was 8 years old, and that he considers himself fortunate to able to work as a full-time author.

Guinn began his career at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a journalist, where he learned how to properly conduct research, draw out the most relevant objective facts, and meet deadlines–traits that all contributed to him becoming a successful author. 

SHSU, Sam Houston State University, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Jeff Guinn, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Bonnie and Clyde

He proceeded to discuss a few of his books: Sometimes a Fantasy, Autobiography of Santa Claus, The Vagabonds, Manson, The Road to Jonestown, and Go Down Together. The diversity of topics in these books is remarkable, and Guinn handled questions with ease, toggling between a broad-scoped view and intimate anecdotes that humanized his subjects.

SHSU, Sam Houston State University, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Jeff Guinn, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Bonnie and Clyde

Several of the biggest takeaways for us as students was an appreciation of Guinn’s intellectual curiosity, his perseverance, and his participatory way of getting to know his subjects or topics. In his newspaper days, for example, he worked as a migrant worker in the Rio Grande Valley, he lived in a (high-crime) public housing project, and he went homeless for nine days–during which time he was attacked by a drug dealer. This type of participatory journalism allowed Guinn to understand the topics about which he was writing.

This is a method he has used in his non-fiction works as well. For his work on Bonnie and Clyde, he traveled to the locations Bonnie and Clyde did; he slept in his car, as they did; he even swam a river they swam, all for the sake of better understanding their experiences. For his book on Jonestown, he traveled to the jungles of Guyana, cutting through area that marked Jonestown, now overgrown by jungle. He discussed, too, some of his work on The Vagabonds, which covered the annual travels of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. (LEAP students were fortunate to have assisted in some small ways with the research for this latter work.)

SHSU, Sam Houston State University, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Jeff Guinn, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Bonnie and Clyde

Following the FB Live session, Mr. Guinn generously agreed to spend time with a handful of students, answering more in-depth questions about his career. This, too, was revealing and interesting, allowing us to see the research habits and techniques of a major writer. He told more about the friendships he has made in writing, including friends who are survivors of Jim Jones’ church; he went more in depth about his experiences interviewing the Manson women in California prisons; and he discussed his favorite artifact he’s seen while research his books (Thomas Edison’s original light bulb).

SHSU, Sam Houston State University, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Jeff Guinn, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Bonnie and Clyde

For me, the best advice he gave to us was that, no matter what our future careers are, we need perseverance. The bumps in the road are normal and everyone encounters them at a certain point. The successful fight through those bumps in the road.

Thank you Jeff Guinn for taking the time to speak with us about the experiences and encounters you have had, as well as sharing the knowledge and wisdom you have gained while researching your books.

The LEAP Center would like to thank the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and the Old Town Theater for allowing us to broadcast on their FB Channels. We’d also like to thank Sarah Faulkner for joining us in the post discussion.

Filling Empty Bowls at the Wynne Home

For the thirteenth year, the Wynne Home Arts and Visitor Center hosted “Empty Bowls,” a worthy fundraiser that not only supports the arts, but which also fights hunger. Spearheaded by Wynne Home Staff Sarah Faulkner and Leara Phillips, the fundraiser brought in more than 100 people, raising more than $2,500 for the Senior Center in the non-profit’s efforts to fight hunger. For the LEAP Ambassadors, it is always a pleasure to help with a Wynne Home event, especially for such a worthy cause.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Wynne Home Arts & Visitors Center, Empty Bowls, Fundraiser

Approximately 200 people participated in bowl-making, either by actually working with Leara Phillips, ceramicists, or by working at Cork & Canvas to paint a bowl. Some of these bowls were selected for the silent auction, which are sold off to high bidders, with the funds also going to the Senior Center’s “Meals on Wheels” program. Other bowls were given to patrons who made a donation for lunch. The main lunch sponsor was HEB, with 5 Loaves Deli, City Hall Cafe, Carbonero Chicken Rotisserie, and Floyd’s on 14th also donating some great soups!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Wynne Home Arts & Visitors Center, Empty Bowls, Fundraiser

For us, the tasks were pretty simple. We ladled soup or otherwise helped with food provision, we greeted people, and we cleaned up a bit. It was a great learning experience, too, not just to see how the fundraiser works, but also to meet new people. With three of the Ambassadors being freshmen, most people in Huntsville are new to us, and we had the privilege of meeting City staff (Aron Kulhavy, City Manager; Rick Rudometkin, new Deputy City Manager; Tammy Gann, Economic Development/Special Projects Director; Tourism Manager, Tracy Rikard; Jessica Lacy, Visitor Center Coordinator; and, of course, Cultural Services Manager Sarah Faulkner; and Wynne Home Events Coordinator Leara Phillips), elected officials (Councilmember Pat Graham), and many other delightful people.

And not only did we see some wonderful bowls…

…but we also had a chance to see some great art in the Wynne Home’s main gallery. John Rodak’s work is currently on display, and the exhibit showcases his intricate and wonderful art work.

But perhaps our favorite aspect of this event is that a LEAP Center intern originally brought this event to Walker County some thirteen years ago. For almost every year since then, LEAP Ambassadors have volunteered for the event in some capacity, a tradition we hope continues for many more years.

Empty Bowls, 2018

Many thanks to the Sarah Faulkner and Leara Phillips of the Wynne Home Arts & Visitor Center and all of the sponsors for putting on another great event and helping a great cause!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Wynne Home Arts & Visitors Center, Empty Bowls, Fundraiser

Mock LSAT: Spring 2021

For the 14th years, the LEAP Center has offered students the opportunity to take a real LSAT, without the stress and pressure of a score that counts. This is a crucial part of getting to law school: learning your current score so that you can develop a study plan that will get you a score that you want.

This semester, we had forty-three students sign up for LSAT, and we returned to an in-person (with masks and social distancing) format. Thirty-seven of those students showed up on a Saturday morning to take a four-hour test!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre Law Students, Pre Law Society, Mock LSAT

The real LSAT has been modified somewhat as a result of COVID, but beginning in August 2021, students will take four sections on test day: Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and an Experimental Section. Finally, students will also do a writing sample, although this does not need to be done on test day (it can be submitted about a week before or after).

There are more than 200 law schools in the US, and about 170 of these have a solid or strong record of students passing the bar and gaining employment. To get into one of these latter schools, students need an LSAT of about 150 or higher, with the very highest-ranked law schools looking for LSAT scores of about 175 or more.

As you might expect, the Mock LSAT scores, on average, aren’t as high as many students would like. That’s not a huge issue, because we encourage students to take the Mock LSAT “cold,” with no pre-studying. Once they get their baseline score, they can begin studying, take the Mock LSAT each semester, track their progress, and then as their official test date draws near, they can assess whether they want to take an LSAT Prep Course.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre Law Students, Pre Law Society, Mock LSAT

Over the past decades, these efforts have paid off. For the past dozen years, SHSU has consistently ranked in the LSAC’s “Top Feeder Schools” to law schools. Out of the 2,775 or so four-year degree-granting institutions in the US, SHSU ranks around 110 (top 4 percent) as a law school feeder. It’s one of the many programs that have grown in stature at SHSU, and we are excited for the students who are in law school now and those who will be enrolling soon!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre Law Students, Pre Law Society, Mock LSAT

Pre-Law Society Meeting: The Walker County DA Presents

Shortly after spring break, the PLS met up for our second meeting of the Spring semester. This meeting was special because this was the first meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic that darkened the world back in 2020 that we had our first in-person guest speakers.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

We had the great honor to have Walker County District Attorney Will Durham and his first assistant Stuart Hughes come and visit our organization and give us insight on what it is like to work in the DA’s office and what kind of cases they encounter.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

Will Durham graduated in 1989 from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in management. After that, he went to law school at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 1992. Former D.A. David Weeks hired Durham out of law school as a misdemeanor and juvenile prosecutor. Soon after, he was promoted to felony prosecutor, where he handled many types of felony cases in district courts.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

Durham practiced private law for many years with attorney Mance Michael Park in a firm called Park & Durham (now known as Park Law Firm) located in Huntsville, TX. Durham was sworn in January 2019, after the previous DA was in office for almost twenty-five years.

Durham explained that the D.A.’s office gets about 2,000 cases per year, which the office goes through to determine which cases to take to a grand jury, which then determines which cases should be prosecuted.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

Nine out of the twelve jurors have to say yes for the case to go to court.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

After he explained the process of how cases get an indictment, he went through his staff and the positions that exist in a District Attorney’s office, which range from positions that require a law degree, to others that require nothing but a good work ethic.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

They then answered some questions about jobs and how we might work our way up in positions, and gave us more knowledge of everything each position does. When they were done with their portion of the information about the office, they showed us a slide show with the “10 Commandments of Cross-Examination” as well as clips from films featuring cross examination.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

When they wrapped up their presentation, they watched two groups go through a cross-examination scenario and they gave us great feedback.

We are very appreciative of their spending an evening talking to us.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

To end the meeting, our president, Quinn, did some housekeeping alongside with our VP of Finance Leslie Canchola Rangel, who discussed our finances. Quinn discussed our last meeting of the semester, the mock trial, which will be held on April 21st.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

Mock Law Class: Version 2021

With a random number generator in hand, Val Ricks, Professor at South Texas College of Law, introduced himself to 16 pre-law students who registered to attend a virtual Mock Law School class on March 3, 2021. The class was taught by Professor Val Ricks, whose qualifications include a Juris Doctorate from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, legal work as an associate attorney with Kirton & McConkle, and almost 25 years teaching at South Texas College of Law. The Mock Law School class is a unique partnership between SHSU’s Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics and South Texas College of Law.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, South Texas College of Law, Professor Val Ricks, Pre-Law

The students came to class prepared; they had already read and briefed the case which involved a contract dispute between the singer Mariah Carey and her stepfather. After Professor Ricks recited the facts of the case, he used the random number generator to select a student to discuss the legal issue of the case. Employing the Socratic Method of questioning, Professor Ricks skillfully led the pre-law students through the analysis of the legal issues in the case, the rule of law, and how the court applied the rule of law.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, South Texas College of Law, Professor Val Ricks, Pre-Law

In evaluating the Class, several students commented that the Mock Law School Class gave them an opportunity to experience the real feel of law school while still being an undergraduate. Jessica Cuevas was grateful for the “amazing opportunity for a glance into the future of how my law school experience may be like regarding study habits and classroom settings. Attending the Mock Law Class solidified my decision to attend law school.”

In working through the logic of the Mariah Carey case, Professor Ricks homed in on some specific word choices in the opinion and mentioned synonyms for the legal terms. In this way, Ricks alluded to how language and law are closely linked.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, South Texas College of Law, Professor Val Ricks, Pre-Law

After discussing the case, Professor Ricks asked some thought-provoking questions regarding the policies underlying the rule of law in the case and whether the court reached the correct result. In addition, like a question on a final law school exam, Ricks presented a hypothetical set of facts and asked the class to analyze the issue of the hypothetical based on the facts. Then, using the Mariah Carey case as precedent, he asked how a court would rule on the issue in the hypothetical case and what reasoning the court would use.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, South Texas College of Law, Professor Val Ricks, Pre-Law

Professor Ricks followed up with some valuable advice for the pre-law students. He explained that law school is about studying old settled law so that as a practicing attorney, you have confidence in applying the law correctly to new fact patterns presented by clients. He suggested that students in law school take the Socratic questioning by law professors in class as a challenge and an opportunity to have a conversation with the professor. Ricks emphasized that the process of learning the law and applying it is more important than the specific legal cases. Yvette Mendoza commented, “ I loved this last part of the class because I was able to ask the law professor questions about law school.”

Professor Ricks advised the students of the importance of clearing everything off their calendar and devoting time to law school, especially in the first year of law school. Ruona Odharo asked a question about paying for law school. Ricks pointed out that South Texas College of Law strives to keep tuition as low as possible.

In response to Yvette Mendoza’s question on whether a student needs to go to a prestigious law school to get a good legal job, Ricks said that every law school teaches the same material using the Socratic Method, and that “excellence depends on you.” A great lawyer can come from any law school.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, South Texas College of Law, Professor Val Ricks, Pre-Law