Elyse Fune, Class of 2011
Legal interests: Public interest law, child advocacy immigration law
Bachelor’s degree: BA in Psychology, University of Arizona, 2007
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
Dream job: U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit Judge
Quote: I am constantly impressed by the knowledge of the faculty, the helpfulness and kindness of the administration, and the quality of the student body.
1) What made you decide to come to USD School of Law?
I chose law school as my tool to effectuate change in child welfare and picked USD because of the tremendous work of its Child Advocacy Institute (CAI). Professor and Director of CAI Robert Fellmeth took the time out of his busy schedule to email me last April, before I had even confirmed my attendance at USD. He told me that he had read my essay and hoped I would come to USD and work with CAI. It was then that I realized USD was different.
Students from the other law schools that accepted me called to see if I had questions; administrators called with offers to visit the campus, but none of these efforts compared to those of USD. Without being asked, without being prompted or forced, Professor Fellmeth chose to reach out to me. USD wasn’t just about numbers, and its teachers weren’t just about getting through the class and giving out grades. I felt USD was so much more, and I was right.
2) During your first week here, what was one of the first things that impressed you?
At USD law, the amount of activities throughout any given day is numerous. There are club meetings (with free lunch!), student mixers with the dean, intramural sports, and a bunch more activities to get a new student involved.
3) What activities have you been involved in at USD School of Law?
I was the SBA representative for Law Students for Community Service. I was also a bailiff for Moot Court and made the Moot Court board for my 2L year. I volunteered with the Pro Bono Legal Advocates and worked for the Public Defender on the Under 5 Project, and I played intramural softball and did work/study through the alumni relations office.
4) How hard is law school? Is it more or less work than you thought?
Law school is very difficult but manageable. If you go to class, do the reading, take notes and study hard, you can pass. It takes drive, motivation and will, but USD offers every resource needed to do well. Law school is more work than I thought but I believe I have improved my time management skills since entering. And I can adequately manage my load while still maintaining some semblance of a social life.
5) What is the best thing that has happened to you here at law school?
It is definitely a toss-up between performing my oral argument for Lawyering Skills or making the Moot Court Board when so many people applied.
6) What is some of your previous professional experience? How did that experience help you decide to go to law school?
Before coming to USD, I was a social worker for two years. I worked with children who had been removed from their parents’ custody because their parents were either abusive, neglectful, or abusing drugs and alcohol. It was my job to identify a potential adoptive home and work with the families and the child(ren) to facilitate a successful transition from the child(ren)’s foster home to his adoptive home. My job was very difficult and stressful but what made things even worse was that I had no power to make any changes to the system. I felt like foster children slipped through the cracks, weren’t offered appropriate services, and were denied opportunities that other, non-foster children were given. I tried to effectuate change but didn’t have the education, the experience or the degree (to be honest) that was needed to do so.
7) What advice would you give to a prospective student? What things might you have done differently?
I would tell a prospective student to not worry about what other students are thinking and doing in law school; just worry about you. Everyone studies differently, and everyone learns differently—just do what works for you and keep at it. Don’t get behind either. Keep up with the reading and note-taking.