Bakersfield College’s Law Day Conference featured two panel discussions and workshops that informed students on what to expect in law school as well as how to deal with the stress that comes with it, while also featuring an internship fair where students were able to meet with representatives from local and visiting law schools and firms. Students in attendance were given advice from prominent local judges and lawyers on how they were able to make it through and deal with the struggles of going to law school, advice that students in attendance believed to be invaluable. The panel discussions featured input from BC president Sonya Christian, judge and BC adjunct professor Steven Katz, Judge Robert Tafoya, Judge Louie Vega, Commissioner Cynthia Loo, Associate Attorney Bethany Peak, Dr. Oliver A. Rosales, and Esther Schlaerth.
The first panel discussion talked about the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, while the second discussed overcoming the odds of becoming a lawyer. Princess Herrera, 21, president of the Pre-Law Club at Bakersfield College, claimed she felt the event went well in her opinion. “I believe it’s been successful for every student, they’ve had a chance to listen to the panels and hear all the great advice, so I think this day will be memorable for every student who has come here for the first time or even the second time like myself,” she said.
Herrera said her favorite part of the discussions was the advice given by those on the panel. “The advice, I loved the advice. My personal mentor is Judge Tafoya. He is great at giving advice and and they are very honest with students. They are actually very helpful and they are always willing to give great help and advice to every student,” she said.
Herrera claimed the panel’s insistence that being a good writer was necessary to passing law school was what stood out to her the most about the discussion. “The advice of writing well. Every student who knows how to write and think critically will always be important for them as a law student, and not even as just a law student but as a person, they’re able to grasp any information in the future and apply it to everything in life, which is great.” Marilynn Sanchez-Avila, an adjunct professor of political science at BC and Pre-Law program leadership team member, claimed she also felt the event was a success.
“I think the event was very successful, we had a good turnout. The panelists were so down to earth, they were open and willing to help out our students, which makes a huge difference. Inspiring students to not only pursue their dreams, but to be taken under the wing of professionals who are already successful so they can reach success themselves,” she said. “The fact that a lot of the panelists can laugh about some of the things that they faced and overcame, only because maybe at the time it seemed like they weren’t going to be able to conquer whatever they’re dealing with and now that they’re at the peak of their professional success. They can look back and say, ‘you know that was a hard time but if I was able to do it, so can you.’”
David Arredondo, 27, a student at BC, claimed he found the advice from judges and lawyers to be inspiring. “I’ve learned a lot. It was good getting intake from actual lawyers and judges, so as far as what made them make that decision and the path that they took. All of that was really valuable to me because their stories, not necessarily one but all of them, had something I related to and it motivated me more toward that path,” he said.
Arredondo said he enjoyed hearing from legal professionals how they dealt and overcame adversity in their lives. “It feels good to know that accomplished judges and lawyers also had these same doubts that I sometimes have, but the fact is they were able to accomplish their goals makes me more motivated.” Arredondo hopes the event happens next year as well. “I look forward to coming next year; hopefully, they keep doing this. It’s really valuable even if you don’t decide to go into law. It’s a good way for you to expand your mentality.”