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One Student Thrives at Experiential Program [by Anayat Durrani] Amidst the plethora of sound advice Alan Smith received before going off to law school, it was one bit of advice given to him a while back that stood out and has always remained with him. “Never forget that I am a cool kid from Laguna.”

It is precisely this positive, upbeat, attitude

pate in law firm simulation training such as

prestige that will give a student the contacts

that has propelled an ambitious kid from the

motions, depositions, arbitrations, and other

in order to get an internship which ultimately

O.C. on his way to a career in law. Mr. Smith

work an attorney would do in the real world.

leads to a job. After you get some experience under your belt, it makes it easier to change

graduated as valedictorian from Dana Hills High School in 1997 and went on to pursue

Mr. Smith added that because of the con-

locations, but for the immediate future, your

his undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley,

ceptual approach of the SCALE program,

school’s location can play a big role.”

where he had “the time of my life.” Now 25

students are given the opportunity to have

and still having fun, Mr. Smith is a second-

“the cream of the crop professors” teach-

Another important factor to consider, he

year law student at Southwestern University

ing at the law school. He said that the small

noted, is the size of the school. Since he

School of Law’s SCALE program. He said the

classroom setting offers more teacher-stu-

did his undergraduate studies at the large

advice to never forget who he was or where

dent interaction, particularly in projects that

campus of U.C. Berkeley, Mr. Smith wanted

he came from has helped him get through

overlap with other classes. “The two-year

a smaller school entirely devoted to law. He

law school unfettered.

program seems intense to onlookers, as I am

added that tuition is also a big factor, since

constantly told that I am crazy for doing this,

loans can pile up quickly.

“This advice comes in handy so much be-

but the program has an ‘eerie’ ability to push

cause of how competitive law school gets,

us when we have time and ease up when we

Although he is still unsure which area of

because it is based on a curve, and I have

are crunched,” said Mr. Smith.

law he will specialize in, he looks forward to the externships that are coming up dur-

seen some real caddy behavior, and keeping a level head and competing with a good at-

The small classroom setting has allowed

ing his second year. The intense and highly

titude will really help you enjoy law school

many of the students to become close, but

structured curriculum of SCALE allows little

the way it can be.”

he admits for some people it could have the

time for summer internships, but students

reverse effect of being a bit too close for

are given externships which are eight weeks

Mr. Smith chose Southwestern’s two-year

comfort. But on the plus side, Mr. Smith said

of experience working for a law firm or judge

SCALE program for a number of reasons.

it is because of the small class size that the

“This is going to be integral, as the only real

He cited its smaller-sized campus, its

law school atmosphere differs from other

downside to the program is our inability to do

impressive alumni, its location in Southern

law school settings that he has heard about.

summer externships.”

that contributed to him choosing Southwest-

“It is not a high school scene with popularity

Once a skeptic about the common sense of

ern. “The fact that it was a two-year program

contests and parties,” he noted. “The class

the law, Mr. Smith said his experience at

played a huge role as well. Law school, I had

is diverse in age and background, and we

Southwestern has changed his views and

been told, pushes students to the limit either

have classmates of all ages and work history

made him appreciate law, which he describes

way, and since I would not know any differ-

which is a benefit that we get to hear from

as a code of conduct that yields structure in

ent, two years sounded better than three, and

other students’ successes and failures in the

our society. “After reading so many opinions

it has been.”

business and legal world.”

and really going through the thought process

Mr. Smith said he is very satisfied with

Mr. Smith’s own advice for students cur-

really gained a lot of respect for our legal

SCALE’s unique program. In contrast to his

rently shopping around for a law school is

system and the judges that preside over it,”

friends who attend other law schools nation-

location, location, location. “This is because

he said.

wide, he is given the opportunity to partici-

there are few schools that have the national

California, and scholarship money as factors

and logic that fuels our legal system, I have


One Student Thrives at Experiential Program  

Smith chose Southwestern two-year SCALE program for a number of reasons.

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