“This is my favorite day of the year,” said TJSL’s Associate Director of Bar Studies Mike Neal. “It’s better than graduation.”
Many of those who attended felt the same way at the TJSL New Lawyer’s Breakfast held on Friday, December 2, to honor the school’s latest group of graduates who passed the July 2011 bar exam.
“Congratulations,” Dean Rudy Hasl told the new lawyers. “You have achieved the ultimate success.”
“It has been a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it,” said Amy Estrada ’11, who will now go from law clerk to associate at the firm of Atkinson Andelson. “This is fantastic!”
“It’s a feeling of total elation,” according to Patrick Boyne ‘11.
“It feels amazing. This is a great accomplishment,” Jennifer Poplin ’11 said, echoing Boyne.
And according to Andrea Rodriguez ‘10, “This is a last step and a first step at the same time.”
"There are no words to describe how amazing it feels,” said 2011 graduate Danaly Barajas. "This is the beginning of a new life for me."
Barajas is interviewing with the Public Defender’s Office. Standing next to her was Flavio Nominati, who will be a prosecutor with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. “I’m excited to be what I studied so hard to be,” Nominati said.
After the breakfast, TJSL’s group of newly minted lawyers walked to a special pavilion that had been set up at the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel to officially be sworn in to the state and federal bar as attorneys – the culmination of everything they have worked for over the past few years. “You will always remember this day,” said Justice Judith McConnell of the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, ”even if you don’t remember what we say.”
But the message Justice McConnell and the other speakers was very clear to the oath-takers: your reputation is everything. “Your reputation is spotless today,” said Federal Court Presiding Judge Irma Gonzalez. “It must remain spotless. Never stop trying to reach the peak of excellence.”“
"Today 'Chapter One' begins,” said Dan Link, the outgoing president of the San Diego County Bar Association. “You write your own story. Make sure you do it with dignity, honesty and integrity.”
For Mike Neal, who has spent the last several months recuperating from a serious car crash and who has just returned to work, it was a sweet moment to see some of the students he worked with taking the oath. “This is really happening,” he said. “I feel so much pride.”
“I couldn’t be happier about the support I got from both my family and the Bar Secrets program at TJSL,” said Jennifer Poplin, whose husband Andrew works with Neal in the bar preparation program.
Thomas Baker ’11 spoke for many of his fellow alumni there when he said: “I don’t ever have to worry about this again.”