Tuesday, April 6, 2010

1L exclusive: interview with Josh Porter

There are plenty of impressive students at U of L Law. In fact, one of the things I most enjoy about being here is the energy and intellect of the people around me. I met Josh Porter (at right) for the first time a week ago, when he trounced me in the quarterfinal round of our 1L oral advocacy competition. Mr. Porter went on to win the competition, which made me feel slightly better, and prompted some curiosity about his road to victory. Mr. Porter was kind enough to participate in an exclusive interview via email, in which he shared his thoughts about law school, success, and life in general.

Name: Josh Porter
Age: 27
Hometown: Jackson, TN
Undergrad: University of Tennessee at Martin 
Before law school: Army Officer

1L at U of L: congratulations on winning this year's 1L oral advocacy competition. Do you have any tips on what worked well and what you learned from the experience?

Porter: Thanks, I think the best advice I could relay would be the same I heard from my Professor and Moot Court Board members which is to practice as often as possible.  After writing out a general outline, I practiced as many times as I could and the more I spoke the words out loud the better I was able to process possible questions or pitfalls I might run into.

I learned so much from the experience it is difficult to list it all, I was very fortunate to argue against some amazing public speakers (Robert May, Hunter Brown, Alex Davis, Thomas Stevens, and Jenn Siewertsen) and be able to emulate some of their styles and approaches to the case.  I was also privileged to hear questions from practicing attorneys, law school professors, and sitting appellate judges, each of whom offered insights into the case that we all had been studying since January, but that I had never remotely thought of. I also gained a lot of respect for people who were forced to argue "off brief".  I was very fortunate to be able to stay "on brief" for the whole competition, and I know that played a big role in me making it as far as I did.

1L at U of L: What was the toughest part of the competition?

Porter: It is a toss up between the second and third rounds.  The second round showcased the most intimidating questions, in that they were from practicing attorneys, and came at such a rapid pace it was very difficult to stay on track.  The third round had arguably the trickiest questions.  Profs Abramson, Powell, and Milligan were not as "confrontational" as were the attorneys, but their questions demanded very careful answers.

1L at U of L: What are your plans for this summer? 

Answer: I will be working as a summer law intern with the Kentucky Dept of Public Advocacy's Post Conviction Office in La Grange, KY.

1L at U of L: Do you have ideas about what you want to do when you finish law school at U of L? Litigation?

Porter: I'm still not 100% sure yet. I do have a strong leaning toward Govt service be it Public Defense or Prosecution, and based on this experience I am very interested in the litigation side of the profession.

1L at U of L: What's the biggest or most important lesson you have learned in law school so far? How has it measured up to your expectations? 

Porter: That's very difficult to narrow down, but I think the most important lesson I have learned so far is that very rarely is there a "black letter law", that instead reasonable people can apply the same law to the same facts and arrive at different conclusions.  That is what makes the study of law, especially the study of persuasive writing and speaking, so fascinating to me. It really is an art.

Law school has more than lived up to my expectations, I really cannot say enough about not just the oral advocacy competition, but the first year as a whole. It has been difficult and challenging but I am definitely glad I made the decision to come here.

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