Six students and recent graduates of the University of Maine School of Law were honored this fall by the state’s Katahdin Law Student Recognition Program, for providing free legal assistance to Mainers who cannot afford an attorney.

Kimberly Watson (’14), Saad Kahn (’14), Ashley Janotta (14), Taylor Sampson (’15), Scott Helmke (15), and Sarah Lemay (’16) were recognized for completing more than 50 pro bono hours, providing legal services to the poor. The pro bono hours were above and beyond any other pro bono work the students performed for law school credit, or during internships.

The Katahdin Law Student Recognition Program is an offshoot of the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program, which is overseen by the state Supreme Judicial Court, and acknowledges Maine lawyers who complete more than 50 pro bono hours in a year. The purpose of the program is twofold: to establish a process for recognizing the pro bono work of Maine lawyers; and to encourage more lawyers to provide such services for low-income residents. The reporting year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Two University of Maine School of Law students, Amber Attalla ’16 and Laura Shaw ‘15, in coordination with Maine Law’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, will volunteer at The Artesia Center, an immigration detention center in New Mexico for one week this November. They will provide legal assistance to unaccompanied immigrant children and women. Amber and Laura will be the first legal representatives from Maine to travel to The Artesia Center in the wake of a humanitarian crisis on the U.S. border. Follow Laura and Amber’s blog beginning on November 15 where they will be documenting their experiences.

Since October 2013, more than 65,000 unaccompanied children and tens of thousands more Central Americans traveling as families have sought refuge at the U.S. southern border. Most of these individuals fled their home countries due to conditions of extreme violence and poverty. Unprepared for what has been characterized as a surge of immigration, the United States federal government started The Artesia Center, a makeshift immigration detention center located in a remote, desolate area of New Mexico. The Artesia Center, located four hours from the closest major city, currently houses over 600 Central American women and children.

Representatives from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) along with other immigration advocacy organizations have stated that “severe due process violations” are taking place at The Artesia Center. Specifically, women and children fleeing their home countries out of fear of persecution are being denied access to asylum and other protections without any meaningful opportunity to contact a lawyer. Many children, even toddlers, are forced to defend their cases in immigration court without the help of legal counsel.

In response, lawyers and law students from around the country are traveling to Artesia volunteering their time to provide urgent legal assistance to the women and children detained there, working to ensure that their due process rights are met. While in Artesia, Amber and Laura will undergo specialized training and assist immigration attorneys from across the country who are donating their time and expertise in Artesia.

For more information and to provide financial support for this exciting project, please see our project summary.

Maine Law Dean Peter Pitegoff and Dan Boxer, Adjunct Professor of Governance and Ethics at the Law School, published an op ed feature in the Maine Sunday Telegram (Oct. 19, 2014) on “a wake-up call for nonprofit boards.”

The article describes recent revelations of embezzlement of nearly four million dollars of donor contributions to Camden’s United Mid-Coast Charities and draws corporate governance lessons from this debacle. It recalls the Law School’s 5th Annual Governance and Ethics Symposium last year, which was introduced with the following prescient statement: “From embezzlement by small town Little League treasurers to fraud and corruption within some of its largest institutions, America has witnessed stunning breaches of trust in the past several years.”

“Are we learning yet from breaches of trust?” asked Pitegoff and Boxer. “Sadly, the answer appears to be a resounding no! ” The article presents guidelines to nonprofit corporations and their boards of directors for responsible governance practices to prevent abuses and to operate for the public good.

Read the complete article on the Portland Press Herald’s website.

Rachel White ’14

“After law school, I hope to contribute in a meaningful and measurable way to the legal and business communities in Maine. The exact shape and nature of that work is still not defined at the moment—but the beauty of a Maine Law education is exposure to such a broad spectrum of legal practice specialties.”

Rachel White grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and went to Stanford University for her undergraduate and Master’s degrees. She worked on environmental regulation & policy at the US Environmental Protection Agency for almost 4 years. She subsequently worked at Google, where, for nearly five years, she consulted with Fortune 500 financial services clients on their digital advertising strategies. Rachel is currently clerking for Judge John A. Woodcock Jr., (Maine Law ’76), Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.

 

Annmarie Levins (Maine Law ’83) is Associate General Counsel at Microsoft Corporation, where she manages the legal support for Microsoft’s U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries. Annmarie clerked for Judge James L. Oakes (U.S. Court of Appeals,2nd Circuit) and Justice Lewis F. Powell (U.S. Supreme Court), was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York and Seattle, taught at the University of Washington Law School, and joined Microsoft in 1998. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Brown University and earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Princeton University.

You are a 1983 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. What impact did Maine Law have in your life and career?

Maine Law prepared me well to practice law in very different roles, from clerking to being a prosecutor to being an in-house lawyer. The faculty taught us to be rigorous and practical, and to keep our eyes on the big picture.

How did you find your way to becoming Associate General Counsel at Microsoft?

After teaching at the University of Washington for a few semesters, I really missed the excitement of practicing law. I had been a federal prosecutor in New York, and decided to go back to that work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. From there, Microsoft recruited me to help set up an international anti-counterfeiting enforcement program. The criminal organizations involved in counterfeiting weren’t all that different from the drug trafficking organizations I prosecuted in New York.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I have good friends and colleagues all over the world, and they are some of the smartest people I’ve met anywhere. The issues we deal with change constantly, and we need to know as much about business, technology, and the competitive landscape as we do about legal issues. There is never a dull moment.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back as a law student?

The hardest issues you deal with in your career are probably not going to involve legal questions, but will involve understanding what clients or opponents really want, what their bottom line motivations really are, how to come to a resolution that is fair and satisfactory enough for all sides. Asking questions to understand the human dynamics is often the key to resolving what comes to you as a legal problem.

What advice do you have for prospective law students today?

Be open to new opportunities. If someone had told me when I was in law school that I would end up working for a multinational corporation and loving it, I would have laughed. It was the farthest thing from my mind.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

From a professional perspective, Thurgood Marshall is my hero. He was a brilliant lawyer and an even more brilliant legal and political strategist.

Graduating class: 2012

Hometown: Warwick, N.Y.

Employer: Norman, Hanson & DeTroy

John Nathans, the man who was cut out to be a big league catcher, is now making a name for himself as a lawyer in Portland, Maine.

A 2012 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law, Nathans was hired in September 2013 by the law firm of Norman, Hanson & DeTroy. Nathans recently concluded a one-year judicial clerkship with the Maine Superior Court.

“I like trial work in particular because it is very much like pro sports, it helps fulfill that competitive interest,” Nathans said. “You have to think on your feet and develop complex strategies in an adversarial environment. You get knocked down and you have to get back up.”

For most of his life, it was all about the pop of the baseball in the leather mitt. The New York native was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 2001, and spent a few seasons with the Double-A minor league affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. Then came Aug. 14, 2007, the day that forced Nathans to find a different dream.

Nathans was catching in an Atlantic League game in Connecticut when the batter, former Red Sox player Jose Offerman, charged the pitching mound, wielding his bat. Nathans raced to the mound to protect his pitcher, Matt Beech. Photos of the incident show Nathans diving toward Offerman and then tackling him, all while Offerman continued to swing the bat. One of those swings caught Nathans in the head. After the melee, Nathans was taken away on a stretcher, suffering from what doctors initially thought was a concussion, but turned out to be a more serious injury.

For months afterward, Nathans thought he would get better and get back to baseball. But his symptoms persisted. He was vomiting six or seven times a day. He would sit for hours in dark rooms, just to avoid any outside stimuli. He was dizzy all the time. Nathans slowly came to grips with the reality that his playing days were over.

“I always thought of myself as a big league catcher, I always felt I had that potential. All of a sudden that was taken away from me, and not on my terms,” he said. “It became clear that I needed to make a transition to another career.”

Nathans’ father is a lawyer. Also, his wife, Kate Lawrence of Gorham, is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law and was a law student extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland. Nathans applied for a job there, and in 2008 he was hired as a paralegal. The next fall he started as a student at Maine Law. He met some of his best friends early on, including fellow law student Matt Libby, who used to play minor league hockey for the Portland Pirates.

During his time at Maine Law, Nathans worked as a law clerk and extern in the appellate division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as a student attorney at the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, and was a leader of the Maine Law Moot Court Team.

Isabel Mullin

 

 

Name: Isabel Mullin
Class of 2016

Hometown: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Undergrad: Denison University, Granville, Ohio
Majors/Minors: Major in economics; Minor in political science

What did you do prior to coming to the University of Maine School of Law?

I attended Denison University from 2006 through 2010. During my undergraduate years I had the opportunity to intern in Congresswoman Pingree’s office in Portland, Maine, for a summer. I also lived in Santa Elena, Venezuela for a summer volunteering with an organization that provided therapeutic horseback riding lessons.

 

Following graduation, I began working as a financial representative with Fidelity Investments.  I worked at Fidelity for just under two years.  I eventually realized I did not want a career in the finance industry, and I moved back to Maine where I resumed work in Congresswoman Pingree’s congressional office as a Staff Assistant and as the Campaign and Finance Assistant for her 2012 reelection campaign.  Following the election, I transitioned to a legislative aide position with the State Senate Democratic Office in Augusta where I worked for four state senators helping with constituent service and legislative work.

 

 Why did you choose to attend the University of Maine School of Law?

I chose the University of Maine School of Law for a two main reasons: first, once I moved back to Maine I didn’t want to leave again.  I am convinced that this is one of the most amazing places on earth, with beaches, ski mountains, and extremely kind people with an incredible work ethic.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not grateful I stayed here. 


The second reason I chose Maine Law is that I loved the culture of this school.  I was told that it had a supportive environment with rigorous academics, and that couldn’t be more true.  My classmates are some of the most incredible people, and will bend over backwards to help one another out. 


What has been most helpful to you in making the adjustment to the life of a Maine Law Student?

Again, I would have to reiterate the amazing culture at Maine Law.  My classmates consistently help each other out and accessing anyone (students, professors, staff) at the school is as easy as knocking on their door or sending an email.  When I have a question, the staff, professors, and administration go out of their way to help answer it.


Are you involved in extracurricular activities, either on or off campus? What are they?

On campus, I participate in the Women’s Law Association (WLA) and the Maine Association for Public Interest Law (MAPIL).  I am also serving as a 1L Representative to the Student Bar Association (SBA) where I serve on the Events Committee and the Services Committee.        


In my time off campus, I volunteer on a number of political campaigns and I am a member of the current Emerge Maine class, an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.


Portland has a reputation for its vast array of food options. Do you have any favorite restaurants or grocery stores?

I love Rosemont Market and Bakery, which has a few locations throughout Portland and is known for its local produce and foods.  It is too hard to identify my favorite restaurant because it seems like a new establishment opens every day.  The options are endless and incredible.  Let’s just say I never go hungry.


What is your favorite thing to do in Portland?

My favorite thing to do in Portland is look up at the sky at night.  Portland is a small city, so the moon and stars on a clear night are absolutely breathtaking.


For someone who is considering attending Maine Law, how would you describe the student community here?

I would describe the student community as just that, a community.  Every student has a unique background and experience that they bring to Maine Law.  We don’t only spend our days in the classroom together, but students are constantly organizing events and gatherings that are open to the entire student body. 


Students also invite one another to their non-Maine Law events.  For example, we have a rugby player in our class that invites everyone to his games, we had a student organize a dinner and movie night, and we have classmates who lend their cars so that other students can go vote.  This is just a small picture of the student community at Maine Law.  I am still in my first semester, but I already know that my classmates will not only be my future colleagues, but also some lifelong friends.

 

Name: Carson Phillips-Spotts
Class of 2016
Hometown: 
Atlanta, Georgia
Undergrad:
Colby College
Major:
Latin American Studies

What did you do prior to coming to the University of Maine School of Law?

I worked as a paralegal in the Immigration Services Department of the Latin American Association in Atlanta, Georgia. The Latin American Association is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of services to low-income Latino families in the greater Atlanta area. My experience there really fostered my interest in pursuing a career in law.

 Why did you choose to attend the University of Maine School of Law?

The size of the school was a big draw for me. Law school, and in particular the first year of law school, can be very hectic. Having a small, collaborative student body really helps to reduce that stress.

 What has been most helpful to you in making the adjustment to the life of a Maine Law Student?

The availability of the faculty, staff, TA’s and upperclassmen has been a huge help. There is an abundance of resources at your disposal as a 1L. If you have questions about anything from housing options to a difficult concept in a certain class, there is always someone willing and able to help.

 What is one thing that has surprised you about Maine Law?

The wide array of interests of my classmates.  Getting to know members of the 1L class has really opened up my eyes to the breadth of the career goals that they have.  From public interest law, to personal injury law, the career interests of my classmates run the gamut.

 When you are not at school, how do you like to spend your time?

I played football in both high school and college, so I like to try and remain competitive. Maine Law Basketball has some good pick-up games on Tuesday and Thursday nights that are pretty fun.

 Portland has a reputation for its vast array of food options. Do you have any favorite restaurants or grocery stores?

Nosh Kitchen Bar on Congress Street is one of my favorites.  Nosh has phenomenal sandwiches and wraps and great lunch specials. I would definitely recommend it.

What is your favorite thing to do in Portland?

Besides studying? Hanging out with friends. Although Portland isn’t a huge city, it offers a lot in terms of dining/entertaining options.  Because this is my first year living here, I am still discovering places on a daily basis.

 For someone who is considering attending Maine Law, how would you describe the student community here?

In a word, I would describe the student body as collegial. I think members of the 1L class understand and embrace the newness of the experience that is law school, and they take a “we’re in the same boat” approach to dealing with new challenges. The upperclassmen, having gone through what we are going through now, are very empathetic to our situation and are always willing to offer guidance and advice.

 

Amanda Hemmerich

 

Name: Amanda Hemmerich

Year: Class of 2016

Hometown: Hollis, NH

Undergrad: Reed College

Major: Biology (minor Political Science)

Grad school: Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs

How did your life and academic experiences shape your decision to pursue a career in law?

I grew up hiking and playing in the woods, and I knew at a young age that I wanted to have a career that connected me to the natural environment. I studied science because I wanted to understand natural processes, and firefighting sparked an interest in the merger of policy with science. Graduate school gave me the opportunity to study ecology and forestry alongside courses like public law and management.

My work as an environmental planner exposed me to the challenges of how legislation needs to keep pace with continually changing ecosystem processes, and it is with this interest I decided to pursue a career in law.

Before coming to Maine Law, you worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and also as a wildland firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management. What was your most memorable experience on the “hotshot crew”?

It was hard to choose just one significant experience because my time as a wildland firefighter left such a strong impression upon me. Some of the more memorable experiences included being dropped off by helicopter or hiking into remote locations to either dig line or monitor the fire.

The crew worked on a fire adjacent to an Anasazi (Indian) site – when the fire was under control, we were given permission to visit the ruins, which were built into the side of the cliff and were completely untouched by the fire. Some other memorable experiences included acting as Incident Commander of my first fire in Yosemite National Park, and running from a hive of bees (while getting stung numerous times) during a prescribed burn in the giant sequoia grove.

 Why did you choose to attend the University of Maine School of Law?

 I feel very fortunate that I managed to put down roots in a city that has a law school, let alone one that offers a small, collaborative environment. The Admissions Office made a huge impression on me when I visited – they were genuinely interested in my goals and supportive about balancing part-time work on a full course load.

 What has been most helpful to you in making the adjustment to the life of a Maine Law Student?

 Fellow classmates and my community. I appreciate that throughout my week, friends “check in” with me and ask how things are. Most tell me they miss seeing me and I have one friend who now gives me a weekly hug!

 When you are not at school, how do you like to spend your time?

 I enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking with my dog, biking, running, climbing, skiing, etc.  I also love lifting weights and I have a great group of friends with whom I work out on a regular basis.

 Portland has a reputation for its vast array of food options. Do you have any favorite restaurants or grocery stores?

 I go to different stores for different needs, and when I can, I buy directly from farmers. I am gluten-free and enjoy cooking, so I haven’t ventured out that much, but I love Silly’s and any restaurant that offers crème brulee!

 What are some things that have surprised you about living in Portland?

 The strong sense of community and abundance of things to do. After college, and with the exception of graduate school, I seemed to move every six months or so. Living in Portland for over 2 years is the longest I have stayed in one place since high school. I love the diversity of Portland – its historic homes, charming neighborhoods, and cobblestone streets, while also offering the perks of a larger city, like concerts.


 

 

Diana DeJesus

“My experience at the University of Maine School of Law has motivated me to pursue a career within the public sector, either working for a nonprofit organization or for a state agency. A commitment to public service is integral to a Maine Law education.”

Originally from Wellington, Florida, Diana DeJesus earned a B.S. and M.A. in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Prior to attending law school, she was a Senior Paralegal for nearly three years at a high-volume law firm. During her tenure at Maine Law, Diana was very involved in student life serving in a variety of leadership positions, as well being the Admissions Fellow for two years. During Diana’s time at Law School, she fell in love with Maine, she is now working at Central Maine Medical Center.

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