An Interview with Claudia Quiroz '07

Q. Why did you choose Wisconsin for law school?
After working at La Raza Centro Legal in San Francisco as a legal assistant for three years, I decided that I was ready to begin my formal legal education. I returned to Wisconsin to be closer to my family and because I was certain that at the UW I would receive an excellent legal education.

What did you do during the summers of your first and second years of law school? How did you get those jobs?
During the summer after my first year I worked as a summer associate at the Minneapolis office of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi L.L.P. I obtained this position through the State Bar of Wisconsin's Minority Clerkship Program. After my summer in Minneapolis, I participated in several West Coast job fairs, including the Dupont Job Fair, and off-campus interview programs. It was through these interviews that I obtained a job as a summer associate at the San Francisco office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis L.L.P (now called K&L Gates), where I worked during the summer after my second year and where I am currently practicing.

How did Wisconsin’s law-in-action philosophy influence your legal education?
Wisconsin’s law-in-action approach to learning the law is a unique tool that allows students to think beyond the confines of the black-letter law. This philosophy allowed me to consider alternative approaches, think about the broader implications of the law, and recognize the role of the lawyer in different contexts. By looking outside the box and considering the pragmatic aspects of the law, I feel well equipped for success in my work as a clerk and a lawyer.

There are so many student groups and activities. What advice do you have for an entering student in terms of choosing activities?
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the numerous activities that one can become involved in. I would advise an incoming student to focus on the things that are important to him or her and that provide a way to learn outside the classroom. For example, I became involved with the Latina/o Law Student Association because as a Latina woman, the success of other Latino law students and lawyers is important to me. Also, I joined the moot court board because I was always interested in litigation and because I wanted to work on my appellate writing skills.

What was your favorite law school class or professor? Why?
I truly enjoyed Professor Whitford’s Contracts class because it was the first time in law school when I could see the practical implications of the law. Additionally, I found him to be an interesting and excellent professor. I was also very fortunate to be in two of Professor Asifa Quraishi’s classes—Constitutional Law and Islamic Law. Professor Quraishi is a fantastic professor who has a dyamic hands-on approach to teaching. She is also a very interesting and approachable person.

Was there a law school experience that was particularly important or meaningful for you?
Competing in the Jessup Moot Court competition is one of the highlights of my law school career. My moot court partner and I worked arduously for about a month and a half preparing our brief and oral argument. We were recognized as having written the highest-scoring respondent’s brief of the competition, which was extremely rewarding. Additionally, we argued for a panel of judges in a simulation of the International Court of Justice. The competition was a tremendous learning experience and being able to work with a team on such an intense project was an exercise in real-life legal practice.

Why did you decide to apply for a judicial clerkship?
I chose to apply for a judicial clerkship because of the enormous learning potential that such an opportunity has to offer. I feel that a clerkship is a perfect opportunity to develop my legal research and writing skills and develop them from a unique vantage point. Furthermore, a clerkship will allow me to be exposed to a breadth of substantive and procedural law which will help me to become a stronger advocate for my clients.

What advice do you have for someone just starting to consider going to law school?
I took almost four years off between undergrad and law school and I feel like it gave me a different perspective with which to approach my legal education. I would seriously advise someone who is considering law school to take some time off, even if it is just a year. Real world experience will give you a broader perspective and a different appreciation for the things you learn. It will also make you more marketable to employers and will definitely give you something to talk about during interviews.

Do you have any advice for an incoming 1L?
Study hard but also don’t take yourself too seriously. UW draws some fantastic individuals so take some time to look around and get to know your classmates. Also, get to know your professors. They are extremely intelligent and fascinating individuals who can teach you a lot outside the classroom. It is important to maintain an adequate balance but stand firm in your convictions and remember why you came here in the first place. Also, part of succeeding in law school is about not getting discouraged. Know that you will inevitably stumble along the way but it is important to pick yourself back up and keep going.

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