Alumni Spotlights

Oxy has a great network of alumni in the law community. Read below to hear how Oxy has supported them through their pre-law track.

Judge Dennis J. Landin ’77
Emily Niklaus Davis '11
Carter Norfleet '11
Claire Marsden ’14
Robert Sandoval ’13

 

Judge Dennis J. Landin '77

UCLA Law School ’80
Contact: dlandin@lacourt.org

How has Occidental helped you through your law journey?
Two things stand out:

  • By having a wide variety of classes lead by passionate professors who made themselves available and cared about my future.
  • Admitting a very diverse student body that exposed me to people with very different views and experiences.

What advice would you give to pre-law students?
Take classes outside of your comfort zone. Get a job or externship where you have contact with people, preferably those who are in distress and need counseling. Take a vacation before you start law school.

Emily Niklaus Davis ’11

Emory University School of Law ’15
Contact: emily@rossandpines.com

How has Occidental helped you through your law journey?
After I graduated from Oxy I worked as a research assistant for Professor Thalia Gonzalez. That position provided me the opportunity to interview many amazing lawyers in the LA area. It opened my eyes to the different practice areas that exist in the legal field and helped me narrow my interests prior to even being accepted to law school. Also, being a Politics/Spanish double major at Oxy helped me tremendously in my career as an immigration lawyer as I was able to strengthen my Spanish-speaking abilities which made me a lot more marketable when I was searching for a job after law school.

What advice would you give to pre-law students?
Reach out to practitioners to see if you can meet for coffee or speak over the phone to ask them questions about their career paths. Make connections early on and you will be way ahead of the game when you start law school. You never know when one of those connections could turn into a job opportunity down the road.

Carter Norfleet ’11

American University Washington College of Law ’16
Contact: cnorfleet@bakerlaw.com

How has Occidental helped you through your law journey?
My professors and mentors at Oxy prepared me for the challenges of law school and a legal career..

What advice would you give to pre-law students?
Applying earlier in the application cycle will significantly improve your chances of admission to top law schools.

Claire Marsden ’14

Columbia Law School ’19
Contact: clairetmarsden@gmail.com

How has Occidental helped you through your law journey?
Oxy teaches its students how to be great writers and thinkers, and those skills have been hugely helpful both in law school and in my career so far. The classes I took with Professor González made me really excited about the law, and her encouragement gave me confidence in choosing this career. The various other classes I took in the Politics, DWA, UEP, and Art History Departments taught me how to engage with text, make connections, and understand nuance. Additionally, the Oxy community’s emphasis on social justice helped shape my perspective on what it means to be a lawyer and how to use the privilege that attorneys have in a strategic, mindful, and empathetic way. Attorneys are often uniquely positioned to advocate for societal change, which is why I wanted to become one, but that position requires interrogation of the attorney’s role when advocating for marginalized groups. Oxy equipped me with the ability to think about these concepts. I also have to shout out the former pre-law advisor, Valerie Savior, who spent an hour on the phone with me discussing my personal statement while I was in a grocery store in DC - she was a huge reason for my success, and I’m sure the current administrators care just as much about helping Oxy students succeed.

What advice would you give to pre-law students?
I have two pieces of advice for pre-law students, and they may seem conflicting. First, there is no requirement that you take only law-related classes while in college for you to be a competitive law school applicant. If you want to do so, like I did, then that’s great - but the critical thinking skills you get from a sociology class or the writing skills you grow in an English class are just as valuable. Critical thinking is really the most important skill in law school, and Oxy’s multidisciplinary education prepares you for that. I have law school friends who studied physics and economics and English in college, so don’t feel limited! Second, make sure that law school is really what you want to do. It’s a huge investment of time, money, and sweat, and it’s not something to take on as a backup plan. I’d recommend doing an internship in which you work with lawyers, or volunteer for a legal clinic, or even spend a lot of time reading Scotusblog. I knew I wanted to go to law school when I got to Oxy, but I still thought through the decision carefully.

Robert SandovalRobert Sandoval ’13

University of Chicago Law School ’16
Contact: robert.sandoval@outlook.com

How has Occidental helped you through your law journey?
My professors at Oxy believed in my potential and prepared me for the challenges of law school and a legal career. To name a few, the late Professor Roger Boesche was a constant resource to me as I decided to pursue my interests in politics and law. During my sophomore year Professor Peter Dreier encouraged me to do Campaign Semester in Chicago--by chance the city of my future law school--and he was an invaluable mentor who challenged me to step out of my comfort zone in preparation for life after Oxy.  Professors Mary Lopez and Thalia González also helped me realize the value of bringing different perspectives to the way we think, write, and talk about problems and solutions in our time.

What advice would you give to pre-law students?
Applying early in the application cycle will significantly improve your chances of admission to top law schools. I would talk to your pre-law advisors to set an ideal deadline to apply to schools while considering the time you will need to study and do well on the LSAT, write any personal statements, and continue doing well at Oxy.