Hugh C. Dunn
Degree: Juris Doctor
Hometown: Worcester, MA
"I see UMass Law as a rapidly emerging leader in the field of public service-oriented legal education."
UMass Law is unique namely because it is reshaping the fundamental assumptions that underlie and govern the study and practice of law.
UMass Law is doing this by creating a new sense of community among students that allows them to bypass the fruitless gamesmanship that is all too prevalent in law schools. UMass Law provides an environment where students can come together to support and challenge one another together on a shared trajectory towards greater understanding and ownership of the principles and practice of law.
By offering world-class, affordable legal education, UMass Law is also reshaping how law will be practiced in the years to come. The distinctly diverse and collegial atmosphere at the school will become the legacy that UMass Law students advance in the varied legal roles they eventually assume. It's a legacy that will transform the legal community and, quite possibly, the Commonwealth itself.
A case in point is the appointment of Mary Lu Bilek—former dean of the public-interest-focused CUNY School of Law—as dean. Her dedication to public service will result generations of lawyers committed to social justice. As a current student and future practitioner, I'm honored to be part of this transformation.
I chose to attend UMass Law because of the school’s commitment to public service. The Public Interest Fellowship Program, directed by Professor Quinn, has given me the tools necessary to become an effective public servant. Since starting at UMass Law, I've been able to learn from Professor Quinn’s extensive legislative experience.
In addition, I've had the opportunity to serve as a Legal Fellow for Governor Patrick. Most recently, I've had the honor of serving as a Research Fellow for Congressman Keating.
In sum, my legal education at UMass Law has enabled me to work alongside local, state and federal policy makers. I see UMass Law as a rapidly emerging leader in the field of public service-oriented legal education.
Although UMass Law is very collegial and the orientation program was quite informative, I was broadsided by the intensity of the law program. Prior to attending law school, I thought that I knew how to achieve my academic goals, and that this program would be “business as usual” for me.
First semester midterms brought me face to face with this misconception.
At first I panicked. Then I realized that the resources I needed to succeed were all around me. I met with Professor Folino, Director of the Academic Resource & Legal Writing Center, to discuss what went wrong and what strategies could remedy the situation. I also met with my peers and discussed what secondary sources they were using to study. I scheduled appointments with my professors to review my exams.
The receptiveness of everyone that I conferred with was encouraging. Finally, I realized that I was going to need to work much harder than ever before. With the support of my friends, family, and the faculty of the school, I was able to find my bearings and end the year with marks that I was proud of.
Do not become overly concerned when a fellow classmate has a different take on the material. Recognize that the majority of your peers, during the first year, have not studied law before and are just as confused as you are.
Converse with others to share studying tips, but understand that there is no 'one size fits all' approach to the study of law. Keep in mind that the study of law is like a race with differing starting lines. Identify your starting line by taking inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Only then can you truly develop study practices that will lead to a robust understanding of the law.
It is understandable if you struggle in the beginning. Perfecting the study of law is a drawn-out process, similar to that of a seed growing into a tree.
Also, don’t get caught doing crosswords during Professor Cleary’s class.