Aerial photograph of the Immaculate Conception Chapel

Graduates Reflect on Law School Experiences

The School of Law's Class of 2011 comprises 181 students. The majority of the class will celebrate graduation during a commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, at 9 a.m., at the UD Arena. A reception for the graduates, family and friends will follow in Keller Hall.

Of the graduates in the class, 170 will receive a J.D., while 11 will receive a Master of Laws, or LL.M.

Three members of the Class of '11 recently reflected on their experiences at the School of Law, the lessons they learned as students and how their time here helped prepared them for the future.

Jonathan Osborne, a graduate of Dayton Law's two-year program, was a member of the Law Review, both as a staff writer and a publication editor, won the best oralist award in the Dayton Bar Association Moot Court Competition, and served as a member of the UDSL Moot Court team.

Adam Petty was the executive president of the Student Bar Association and a member of the Black Law Students Association, Criminal Law Association, St. Thomas More Society and Volunteer Student Law Project. After graduation, he will join the U.S. Army JAG Corp

Carmen T. Rodríguez was president of the Hispanic Law Student Association and a member of in Phi Alpha Delta; volunteered for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. After graduation she will join the New York law firm of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C.

What are your plans after graduation?

Jonathan Osborne: The day after graduation I'm heading to West Virginia. My first bar review class starts the Monday after graduation. I'll be studying from then until I take the bar, only taking as many breaks as necessary to maintain my sanity. I'm fortunate to have a job lined up with the law firm of Jackson Kelly in West Virginia. I will be starting work a couple weeks after taking the bar.

Adam Petty: I am sitting for the Ohio bar exam in July. I have accepted a commission into the U.S. Army JAG Corp., but will not leave for officer school and training until February 2012.

Carmen Rodríguez: After graduation I plan on taking the New York and New Jersey bar examinations. Thereafter, I will start working for the New York personal injury, trial law firm of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, P.C. The firm was founded more than 75 years ago and is one of the largest plaintiffs' personal injury law firms in the State of New York. There I will be working in the firm's Complex Litigation Department. This job opportunity would not have been possible without the assistance and guidance of the Career Services Office at UDSL and its outstanding UDSL alumni connections.

What do you look forward to most as you begin your law career?

Jonathan Osborne: I'm looking forward to rejoining the real world, and maybe even taking an occasional day off on the weekend. I also look forward to delving into real-world problems with my clients, and applying the lessons I've learned in school to those problems.

Adam Petty: I look forward to applying all of the knowledge and skills that I have acquired over the past three years to real life situations. The legal profession is constantly evolving, and I'm looking forward to being involved.

Carmen Rodríguez: I look forward to using my God-given talents to serve those who are less fortunate and often overlooked in our justice system.

What lesson learned at UDSL stands out to you as most valuable as you graduate?

Jonathan Osborne: The most important lesson I learned at UDSL is the ability to argue both sides of an issue, and the importance knowing both sides of the issue plays in constructing an effective argument for my client. UDSL's Legal Profession Program and my experience as a member of the Moot Court team instilled in me the skills I will need to effectively represent clients after I graduate.

Adam Petty: The law is a powerful tool; use it for the benefit of your community and those in need.

Carmen Rodríguez: Persistence in each endeavor I undertook ultimately paid off in the long run.

What non-classroom experience at UDSL stands out to you?

Jonathan Osborne: Last fall semester, I had the opportunity to clerk for Judge Sharon Ovington. While working in her chambers, she gave me the chance to read and analyze motions that were submitted to the court. This great learning experience cemented the lessons taught in our Legal Profession courses, but also provided the unique experience of analyzing motions from the perspective of neutral decision maker. It allowed me to read both good and bad examples of legal writing and to see the subtle difference between effective and ineffective arguments.

Adam Petty: UDSL's 35th anniversary celebration in 2009 stands out (among many other things). The dinner was an awesome celebration of the school's accomplishments thus far and an added inspiration to make the next 35 years just as special.

Carmen Rodríguez: I will never forget the day I was helping a young Hispanic immigrant from Dayton file his income tax. This young man and I were the same age but he worked a less-than-minimum wage job to support his family back in Mexico, while I was in law school and had a job offer at a law firm in NYC. Sometimes we get caught up in our daily tasks and easily forget what really matters. However, that night it did not matter how tired I was or how much reading I still had to do for class the next morning - all I cared about was helping this young man.

Did law school at UDSL meet your expectations? How?

Jonathan Osborne: Absolutely. Law school at UDSL surpassed my expectations. I came to law school with very specific goals in mind. I chose the University of Dayton, in part, because it allowed me to finish my studies in two years. I planned to work as hard as I could for two years so I could graduate and get the type of job I envisioned working in when I made my decision to pursue a law degree. I expected the efficiency of the two-year program. What I didn't expect was the approachability of the UDSL faculty. The open-door policy held by my professors gave me the ability to clarify issues I didn't fully understand during classroom discussion and challenge ideas I learned outside of the classroom. The University of Dayton provided me with an environment where the time I spent outside the classroom was just as valuable as the time I spent in it.

UDSL also gave me the opportunity to gain legal writing experience beyond the required courses in my Appellate Practice and Capstone courses and as a member of the Law Review. In addition, UDSL provided plenty of opportunity for me to gain practical experience through my externship, involvement in Moot Court, and capstone course, where I was able to take a case from client interview to trial.

Adam Petty: My experience at UDSL has exceeded my expectations. The faculty, administration, staff, and students create a community atmosphere in Keller Hall that makes it easier to make it through the days. My professors have been knowledgeable, extremely thought provoking, tough (at times), and always supportive. I appreciate my day-to-day encounters with the many good-hearted people at UDSL.

Carmen T. Rodríguez: UDSL was the best thing that ever happened to me. There is an African proverb that states, "It takes a village to raise a child." Likewise I think it takes a village to make a lawyer. The administration, faculty, staff, student body, maintenance workers and grounds keepers at UDSL have contributed in a special way to my success both inside and outside the classroom.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Jonathan Osborne: If I could give any advice to incoming students, it would be to have specific goals about what you want to accomplish in law school. Do some research about the type of firm you believe you will want to work for when you graduate, and know what it takes to accomplish that goal. For example, if you want to work at a large firm where nearly every associate was on their respective school's law review or moot court team, your goal might be to focus your attention on acquiring the skills desired by these employers. I would also advise incoming students to use as many supplements as you need to understand your courses. It was often helpful for me to hear a subject explained in multiple ways. This technique ensured I could follow the course material in class and fully explain the concepts that might be covered on an essay exam.

Adam Petty: Be diligent each day. Law school is not easy, but it is rewarding. Take charge of your education and enjoy the ride.

Carmen T. Rodríguez: My advice would be to make every moment at UDSL count because it's the only way you will be able to live your dream and love your life.