Mariam Abdelmalak is a 2018 J.D. candidate at the University of Houston Law Center.
First year law classes include substantive law courses, such as Contracts and Property, in addition to Procedure and legal writing. These offerings are practical in that they provide an understanding of foundational areas of law and allow students to develop legal research skills. After all, as summer clerks and future associates, law students will spend most of their time researching legal issues and drafting case documents. However, many first-year students, both those who have no prior legal experience and those who do, want to begin developing oral advocacy skills.
The Advocates is a student-run organization that provides all students with mock trial, moot court, mediation, and negotiation experience through intramural competitions. The Advocates runs six competitions each year, only one of which is not available to first-year students. All of the competitions require students to compete in two-person teams, and most of the competitions are judged by actual judges and attorneys. Two of the five competitions that are available to first-year students, the Hippard Novice Mock Trial Competition and the John Black Moot Court Competition, cater specifically to first-year students. The Hippard Novice and John Black competitions focus less on knowledge of substantive law and more on oral delivery and preparation.
During my first year at the Law Center, I participated in three Advocates competitions. Although, like many 1Ls, I was reluctant to sacrifice study time to these competitions, I am glad that I allowed myself to gain the practical experiences I did. The Alternate Dispute Resolution Competitions (mediation and negotiation) gave a great perspective on how to deal with client demands as an attorney. Preparing and delivering oral argument for the moot court competition was both fun and encouraging. My partner and I competed against amazing orators and got to engage with dedicated judges. Getting feedback on my style of delivery was a great way to start working on my courtroom presence and learn to better structure my argument.
For students who are unsure whether to pursue litigation or transactional work, Advocates competitions can help simulate the skills best suited to each of these two tracks. Advocates intramural competitions are also great practice for trying out for the Law Center’s intermural mock trial, moot court, and alternative dispute resolution teams. These teams are all part of the Law Center’s distinguished Blakely Advocacy Institute and compete nationally.
To find out more information about the Advocates and the Blakely Advocacy Institute, use the following links:
Student author Tera Stone is a 2017 J.D. candidate at the University of Houston Law Center.
I am interested in patent law, therefore attending the University of Houston Law Center for its #8-ranked Intellectual Property and Information Law Institute seemed like an easy decision. However, I completely undervalued the advantage of attending law school in one of the largest legal markets in the country. I think a lot of prospective law students forget to factor in the networking aspect.
Networking is a terrifying word to first year law students, but in Houston networking is as easy as attending a happy hour or lecture on a topic that interests you. This is how I found both of my summer jobs following my first year of law school.
As a first year law student, I joined the Intellectual Property Student Organization (IPSO). This is one of many student organizations that the Law Center offers, ranging from undergraduate interests such as the Aggie Law Society and the LawHorns to content-specific such as public interest and health law. Connecting to these organizations gives you a built-in student network with mentors and events to attend with attorneys in the community.
The first half of my summer I spent at Blank Rome LLP learning about patent litigation. I learned about the opportunity from my mentor in IPSO; he was a third-year law student who had worked there the previous summer. He told me who to send my resume to and helped prepare me for the interview. Two out of three of the attorneys that interviewed me attended the University of Houston for law school, and one was a past officer in our IPSO chapter. Attending law school in the same city in which you plan to work increases the connections that you have in the legal community and gives you the opportunity to connect with people through organizations such as IPSO.
For the second half of my summer, I worked at ExxonMobil Chemical Company doing patent prosecution work. I attended a lecture on in-house counsel where two patent attorneys from ExxonMobil were presenting and introduced myself after the lecture. After talking after the presentation and telling them about my interest in patent law, they asked me to send over a resume and keep in touch until they were hiring in the spring. I truly believe the in-person connection at the University of Houston Law Center helped me make an impression before any ExxonMobil attorneys received my resume.
The University of Houston Law Center has speakers and attorneys on campus multiple times per week for different presentations associated with one of the many institutes or student organizations on campus. Several of my classmates had similar experiences in finding summer employment by networking on our very own campus where we attend class every day. These networking opportunities are unique to living in a booming legal market such as Houston where the campus is ten minutes from downtown and houses a large percentage of the city’s law firms, companies, and other organizations.
With apologies to our neighbors to the north, Houston is fast becoming the prime destination for the sports enthusiast. Lacking only professional hockey, Houston’s offerings range in scope from the wide range of “amateur,” aka college sports, offered in the city limits (including but not limited to the 2015 Peach Bowl Champions, the University of Houston Cougars) to each of the major professional sports.
The weekend of April 1st is a prime example of the prevalence of sports and the options a sports fan has in Houston, Texas. Not only has the University of Houston Law Center hosted the fascinating debate between NYT columnist Joe Nocera and ESPN/CBS analyst Len Elmore asking “Is College Sports Broken?”, but the city of Houston plays host to the 2016 NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament, as well as the fantastic Shell Houston Open.
Needless to say it’s an exciting time to be in Houston. With strong economic outcomes, exciting social opportunities (2017 Super Bowl anyone?), and great communities to build a life within, Houston provides significant options for the discerning student looking to establish their professional life with a mixture of sporting and social activities!