law students

Law student Henry Joel Simmons catches the golden snitch as Harry Potter in Assault & Flattery’s satirical play “Harry Potter and the Order of the Peregrinus” on Friday evening at the Utopia Theater.

Photo Credit: Austin McKinney | Daily Texan Staff

UT law students deviated from the no-nonsense world of their legal studies Saturday evening to partake in a celebration of irreverence, wizardry, parody and performance.

Assault & Flattery, UT law’s student-led theater troupe, performed “Harry Potter and the Order of the Peregrinus” for a sold out theater Saturday evening. The performance marked Assault & Flattery’s 60th anniversary. 

In the play, Potter and his band of magic law students are pit against Draco Malfoy and the Slythegreens in a struggle for highly-coveted judicial clerkships, which are controlled by Snemily Snadens, an ally of the Slythegreens and Voldemort. Snemily Snadens' character is one of several in the play that are based on former and present-day UT faculty. Emily Kadens, former UT law professor, inspired the character.

Familiar elements from the Harry Potter series were used to poke fun at the law school experience. The play’s antagonists were called “Job Eaters” and Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility was an oversized T-shirt emblazoned with a St. Mary’s University School of Law logo. 

Songs like “Welcome to Your Cubicle,” based on One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Law Prof’s Paradise,” based on Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” and “I Believe In a Thing Called Law,” based on The Darkness’ “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” were written and performed by students. 

Kazoo-driven renditions of popular songs were performed throughout the evening by the Assault & Flattery band, which also accompanied several of the songs in the performance. Medley, UT law’s a cappella group performed between the first and second acts, adding to the slew of legal humor and parody through their own reworking of popular music. 

Henry Joel Simmons, a UT law student who co-directed the play and starred as Harry Potter, said the event helps lighten the otherwise unrelenting atmosphere surrounding the law school experience. 

“Law school is infamous for being extremely stressful and extremely reverent,” Simmons said. “I think it’s really important for students [to] take it upon themselves to lighten the mood a little bit, let students realize that there is some humor in the law school experience.”

The play incorporated current events into its narrative, which ensured that those in attendance who were not law students followed the material. Further, an “Abridged Desk Reference” containing legal terminology was inserted into the playbill for the sake of non-law students in attendance. 

Puja Parekh, a UT law student who acted in the play, said the play was designed to appeal to all students. 

“We can’t just have law school jokes,” Parekh said. “Not everyone in the audience is a law student. We try to have current political events, things that are going in Texas and the world to have everyone relate to the show a little bit more.”

Members of Assault & Flattery run the group like a professional theater troupe, building sets, designing costumes and writing all the material. 

Anna Kuntz, a UT law student who designed the costumes for the play, said Assault & Flattery gives law students a unique way to express their concerns and artistic ambitions. 

“It’s a good creative outlet,” Kuntz said. “We’re usually stressed out and this a good way to express ourselves.”

Published on March 4, 2013 as "School of Magical Law". 

UT law students and volunteers helped undocumented individuals organize the materials they needed to apply for relief from deportation and obtain legal work status for the next two years.

Implemented by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services this year, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gives successful applicants two years of relief from deportation and work authorization. This past weekend, the UT School of Law Pro Bono program hosted its third free clinic for the program at Pickle Elementary School in North Austin to help applicants put together legal documentation to meet the program’s requirements. Among those are proof they were younger than 31-years-old by June this year and graduated from a U.S. high school.

To qualify, applicants also have to prove they were younger than 16-years-old when they were brought to the U.S. and have resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.

Tina Fernandez, director of UT’s Pro Bono program, said the clinic focused on high school students because they are the easiest to help. 

“We have very limited capacity to serve [college] students,” Fernandez said. “[High school] students tend to be fairly straightforward cases. They’re in school; they’ve got school records.”

Fernandez said this doesn’t mean that college students are out in the cold. Members of the University Leadership Initiative, a group advocating for undocumented students, were at the clinic and are holding their own clinic Oct. 13.

Walter Trejo, a member of the group who volunteered to translate birth certificates, said he was happy to see the legislation passed because it offers relief to students who call America home.

“We are helping people, especially students that have been educated in the system, that speak the language,” Trejo said. “They are Americans by heart but not by documents, people that could eventually contribute to the betterment of this country and this state.”

Claudio Cruz, an official at Pickle Elementary School, said he believes the new program is a step in the right direction but that more permanent measures are needed.

“Some people have been here all their lives,” he said. “It’s time for us to make a decision.” 

Pedro Dasilua, an applicant at the clinic, said he was still relieved to have two years to make money to support his family and an education. Dasilua first came to the U.S. in 1994 and is now 26. 

Dasilua said that without current documentation, it was hard for him to hold a job and he felt he couldn’t use the education he was receiving at Austin Community College.

“I’ve got a family to start, and I can’t really start anything without having some kind of backup, study-wise,” Dasilua said. “[With this deferral] I can get a job, earn money and see if, with my wife, I can legalize.

While the clinic checks over applications and translates documents, clinic officials cannot promise that the applicant will be granted the two-year reprieve.

“They give you confidence that you’re doing it right,” Dasilua said. “If you don’t get accepted, at least you know you did everything you could.”

Printed on Monday, October 8, 2012 as: Clinics help immigrants file deferral applications

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is interviewed at the LBJ School of Public Affairs on Friday. The Senator held a lecture with law students on how the growing public debt can affect future generations before speaking with the Daily Texan about how it will affect students both in UT and in colleges elsewhere.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

On Friday, Sen. John Cornyn R-Texas spoke with UT law students at the LBJ School of Public Affairs about the problems the growing public debt poses for the U.S. The Daily Texan sat down with Senator Cornyn to discuss how these problems could affect higher education at UT and elsewhere.

The Daily Texan: Why did you feel it was important to warn UT law students about the debt crisis?
Sen. John Cornyn:
Because students are going to have to pay the bill. [The debt is] roughly $48,000 per every man, woman and child in America right now, and all we need to do to see where this is going is to look across the Atlantic at Europe and see the sovereign debt crises over there. The bills are stacking up and creditors are doubting whether these governments can actually pay their debt. Obviously, this is creating a lot of turmoil there, a recession right now, and it could very well spill into the United States.

DT: So how would the debt crisis affect the quality and availability of higher education in the U.S. if left unsolved?
Sen. Cornyn:
It’s going to reduce the amount of money that we can spend on anything, including education. [The debt is a result] of a lot of things the federal government does, for example the expansion of Medicaid availability from 100 percent of poverty to 133 percent of poverty. That’s a sheared state/federal bill and what it does is put $27 billion of unfunded liabilities on the state government, crowding out other priorities such as education.

DT: Does decreasing federal spending to resolve the debt mean that the federal government will have to find new ways to support public education?
Sen. Cornyn:
I think budgeting is all about priorities. Clearly education is a priority. Most of it is funded at the state level, about 90 percent for K-12, and as you know a lot of students have to borrow money to fund their education. The President talked about that at his State of the Union. The problem is that education funding should be a priority, but there are a lot of things we are spending money on now that could be spent on education and other priorities.

DT: So what are those unneeded expenditures?
Sen. Cornyn
: Some of it is as simple as duplication of services. I was talking in Admiral Inman’s class a moment ago about job training. It’s something that he said is a government function, and I agree with him. We need to help people acquire the skills needed in order to get a job, but right now there are 40 different federal programs that provide job training. Obviously, I would argue there is a lot of duplication and a lot of inefficiency. Some of it is that. Some of it is simply reining in some tax expenditures, things like the ethanol subsidy. I would also encourage people to look at the Simpson Bowls Report that came out in December 2010, called “Moment of Truth”. They said we had about 1.1 trillion dollars in tax expenditures that are currently increasing the deficit, which could instead go into people’s pockets if certain provisions in the tax code were eliminated. That would go along way.

DT: What can UT and other universities do to keep college open to everyone as tuition rates and student debts continue to rise? What role does the government have in that?
Sen. Cornyn:
In my way of thinking it’s simply unacceptable to deny people access to college in this economy. We know that if people finish high school, wait to get married and if they wait to have children that their chances of joining the middle class and not being poor are much better. We haven’t had a federal budget in more than a 1000 days now, and what happens when you have a budget, whether it be a small business or government, is that you have to make hard decisions. We have to decide: what are the things you have to have, like education, what are the things you would like to have, and what is not necessary. The federal government has not been making those kinds of decisions and we need to.

DT: Is there a role that the government needs to take to ensure that education remains inclusive? Especially in a state like Texas, which has a quickly growing population.
Sen. Cornyn
: I would say we need to do a better job in reaching out to everybody in making sure that education is available to all. We have challenges, the drop out rate and things like that, but we can create a great system of community colleges that teach skills that are necessary for jobs that exist but for which there’s not a quality, trained workforce. This needs to remain at the top of our list of priorities. This is something that we are never going to be able to say we’re done with, and that it’s fixed.

DT: What advice do you have for students preparing for jobs in an economy projected to have notably lower growth outcomes than the previous generation?
Sen. Cornyn:
Well I would say don’t accumulate any more debt. Unfortunately the federal government took over all student loans in 2010, and this summer will start charging 6.8 percent on those loans. The cost of those loans is actually much lower, and the government is using the cost from those loans to fund other programs, like the health care bill. It doesn’t seem quite fair that students should have to bear that additional cost. I would say look for opportunities to complete your formal education in a shorter rather than a longer period of time. Even though Pell grants are available for 9 years, if you can do it in 5 years you can save a whole lot of money and that’s going to make it easier for you to do with that student debt, and for the countries debt.

The University of Texas graduated about 3,100 students during fall commencement on Saturday and Sunday, including 2,124 undergraduates, 740 master’s degrees students, 221 doctoral students and 15 law students. (Photo courtesy of Sam Gabrieliants)

Thousands of Longhorns donned their caps and gowns this weekend to celebrate graduation, marking the end of their time at the University.

About 3,100 students graduated this semester, including 2,124 undergraduates, 740 students who received master’s degrees, 221 doctoral students and 15 law students, according to the Office of the Registrar.

Fall commencement ceremonies took place on Saturday and Sunday with each college holding separate convocations. In addition, Texas Exes hosted a commencement weekend open house for the recent graduates to come and toast to their degrees on Saturday, called The Great Texas Exit.

For many graduates, this marks the time where they will try to find work and begin their career, which may prove difficult for some in the current economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of Texas is 8.4 percent, below the current national rate of 9 percent. The University offers career services to graduates to assist in deciding what to do after graduation.

Printed on Monday, December 5th, 2011 as: New year, new grads

UT law students can earn a dual law degree from the UT School of Law and from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City through a new program currently accepting applications. Law school Dean Lawrence Sager and Jorge Cerdio, dean of the Department of Law at the Institute, spent several years developing the program, which aims to increase the number of lawyers who are able to practice in both countries. “In a globalized world, there are more and more legal transactions and interactions,” said UT Law Professor Ariel Dulitzky. “Establishing these types of programs is an idea to prepare first-rate lawyers, both in Mexican law and U.S. law.” The deans also decided to create the program as a way to strengthen ties between Texas and Mexico. “We don’t only share the border, but we share a common heritage, history, traditions,” Dulitzky said. “There are a lot of economic interactions between Texas and Mexico, and many Texan law firms have partners or offices in Mexico, so it was very easy for us to make that connection.” The program will allow participating students to earn their Juris Doctor degree from UT and the Mexican equivalent, a Licenciatura en Derecho, from the Institute. Once students receive both degrees, they will be eligible to sit for the bar exam in the U.S. and apply for a license to practice law in Mexico. It is the first program that links a top-tier U.S. law school to one in a Latin American country. “I really think it’s a terrific opportunity for students in the program, as well as for citizens in the country, because we’ll be able to achieve greater levels of collaboration,” said Assistant Law School Dean Kirston Fortune. Students can apply for the program now, and each school will begin offering coursework for students from the other in fall 2012. Students who begin at UT must complete two years at UT and four semesters at the Institute, while students who begin at the Institute must complete four years at the Institute and two years at UT. Second-year law student Aparna Talluri said although she will not apply to the program, it is a great opportunity for students to learn more about other cultures and thereby further improve their knowledge of the law. “Because business is crossing national borders, our legal system has to, as well,” she said “If you’re dealing with policies abroad, you need to be well aware of their policies and law[s] in order to be the best lawyer you can be for your client.”