Six years ago, I was accepted at McGeorge School of Law as a part-time evening law student. It was fall 2015. I worked full-time during the day, and class would start promptly at 6:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Only 1/3 of law schools nationwide offer part-time JD programs, including McGeorge. The part-time program is designed for full-time workers who seek to obtain a law degree but cannot do a full-time program because they have other obligations. To say that it was difficult would be an understatement. But it was worth it.

The quality of education I received at McGeorge cannot be overstated. The JD program guarantees two full years of legal writing and analysis skills through Global Lawyering Skills (“GLS”) I and II. GLS II was hands down one of the best experiences a law student can have going into their career. The second year of legal writing and analysis is only found in a few law schools nationwide. The course walks each student through the trial level in a federal court to an appellate brief to be submitted to the Court of Appeals. It culminates in all students presenting oral arguments in front of a panel of professors and community lawyers who give their time to provide this experience to the students. This course was essential to my success.

In my second year of law school, the Career Development Office (“CDO”) team encouraged me to apply for the Sacramento Bar Association Diversity Fellowship program. This program selects a few qualified law students with diverse backgrounds from McGeorge and UC Davis and places them with well-known private law firms in the Sacramento area, so that they may be exposed to this environment. The CDO helped me craft a competitive application and provided mock interview practice. Thanks to their help, I was one of the 16 selected candidates out of almost 100 applications. Working that summer at a civil litigation firm not only gave me vital knowledge and skills that have continued to serve me today, but it completely changed the trajectory of my career. One of my supervising attorneys took me to meet various judges, and it was thanks to one of those meetings that I would end up applying for an externship at the federal court.

During my third and fourth years, I jumped into experiential learning and extracurricular activities. I joined the nationally recognized Moot Court program, excellently led by Professor Edward Telfeyan. I represented McGeorge at the Philip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the biggest moot court competition in the world. That year, we brought home Second Best Brief, a Best Oralist award, and overall 7th in the region. It was an amazing experience. We could not have done so well had it not been for the skills we developed through GLS II, the supportive professors involved, and my impressive teammates.

For my last year, I served at the Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse as a judicial extern to the Hon. Morrison C. England of the Eastern District of California. I was fortunate to have been paired with a fellow evening student, Ashley Vasquez, who enhanced the experience that much more. Together, we attended every hearing or trial we could attend, met the judges, introduced ourselves to the law clerks, and received a tour of the building by the U.S. Marshals.

During the externship, I met the Hon. Ronald H. Sargis, Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of California. After attending one of his hearings, we were introduced by my mentor, and together with his externs, we went to his chambers where he spoke to us about all things bankruptcy and his experience as an attorney before coming to the bench. Little did I know that a few months later this encounter would result in me applying and being selected for a clerkship in his chambers.

My clerkship application was a group effort. Again, the CDO helped me craft a letter that would set me apart and helped with mock interviews. When I reached out to my professors for letters of recommendation, they did not hesitate.

Working as a clerk has been an honor and a privilege. I have been fortunate to be mentored by a great human being, learn about the law and the federal judiciary, and serve as the supervisor for law students from across the state of California. None of this would have been possible without McGeorge.

As I embark on a new adventure on the East Coast, I know I will succeed because my education at McGeorge has given me the tools and experiences that will allow me to do so.

By Joann Horta-Baez, JD ’19