During the last few years, the OSBA Real Property Section’s initiative to start a law student scholarship program has attracted a significant number of applicants from all over the state. Students of Ohio accredited law schools can apply and receive a $2,500 scholarship, a non-voting seat on the Real Property Section Council, and the opportunity to address real property law issues. Students have the valuable and very exciting chance to acquire hands-on experience in areas that interest them.
The 2017 scholarship recipients have shown a tremendous commitment to their aspirations and the ability to balance many challenges. We asked them to share with us how it feels to be a law student. Meet Kaleigh Talaganis, University of Akron School of Law; Katelyn Merick, Capital University Law School; Danny Colston, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; and Timothy Lynch, University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Q: Why have you chosen the practice of law as your career?
Kaleigh Talaganis: I chose law for my career because of my skill set that I wanted to employ. I have always enjoyed writing and editing. When I chose my undergraduate degree in professional writing, I knew I would need to supplement it. My father is a lawyer, and I worked for him during my summer breaks while in college. I realized that I liked the identification of issues and research that the work required. I also liked the ability to complete work on my own, but also have colleagues nearby to help if needed.
Katelyn Merick: It was always my dream to go to law school. I enjoy helping people and analyzing complex problems, and I felt that becoming a lawyer would be a great way to utilize my skill set.
Danny Colston: From a young age, I have always taken a strongly opinionated approach to conversations – a trait my family still enjoys to this day. As such, the fact that I “should be a lawyer” stuck with me. Though my interests in high school and college were wide ranging, the fact that law school provides a perfect intersection of law, policy, and business combined with the extreme flexibility of a law degree greatly appealed to me.
Timothy Lynch: When I enrolled in college as a Criminology/Pre-Law major, I had every intention of becoming a police officer. The pre-law concentration required courses in policy and theory, which I loved and excelled at. I started taking more law-oriented courses and met other students who had their eyes set on law school. My appreciation for the law only continued to grow from that point and my family and friends encouraged me to take the LSAT and pursue law school.
Q: What type of challenges do you face in law school?
Talaganis: The challenges I currently face include finding a job and taking care of my mental health. The beginning of the semester was rather overwhelming because I struggled with interviewing and finding a job for next summer. It took a toll on my mental wellbeing, but now I’ve learned to put that stress behind me and focus on school. I found it challenging my first year, and this year too, to discern whether I am doing enough to prepare myself for classes and exams. I am very dedicated to my studies, and if I know I’ve dedicated enough time to studying, I will feel comfortable going into exams.
Merick: Time constraints! I constantly wish there were eight days in the week.
Colston: Time management is a key feature necessary to succeeding in law school, and despite having succeeded with it in college, it was a whole new ball game going into 1L year. A single, end-of-year final exam for each class is a bit of a novelty with law school, and making that first-year shift while juggling other extracurricular activities can be particularly challenging. The only remedy is what is typically advised at orientation – take it one day at a time and continually make progress so as to not be overwhelmed at the end of the semester.
Lynch: I do a lot of balancing between managing law school, work, various clubs, and other responsibilities. The one thing that helps me manage all these things is distance running. Staying in shape and running is important to me because it helps to clear my head and keeps me focused. I find it easier to tackle all these responsibilities when I put in those miles on the road.
Q: Who has been your inspiration throughout law school?
Talaganis: My inspiration throughout law school has been my parents. My dad has worked very hard to provide for my family, and I hope to have the same success as him. My mom, a nurse, stayed home to raise my three siblings and me. I appreciate her patience and generosity. I hope to be a combination of my parents.
Merick: My parents. They encouraged me to take the LSAT, and have been my biggest supporters throughout this process. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for their guidance and support.
Colston: As I discussed more in a subsequent question, my family has always been a major motivating factor. This is true not simply because of our prototypical American “dream” story, but largely due to my subtle desire to emulate my grandfather; with whom I share an alma mater and who is also a lawyer that works in our family’s business.
Lynch: My inspiration throughout law school has been my family back in Pennsylvania. All my motivation comes from my family and I work hard knowing that they are all counting on me to succeed. My mom and dad have supported me through every step of law school and I wouldn’t have made it to this point in my life without them. I am very thankful to have such loving parents.
Q: Why have you chosen to focus on Real Property Law?
Talaganis: I chose a focus in real property law because of the transactional type of work it requires. I like the fact that there are many different facets of real property. I also like that I could work with different clients on different types of transactions, such as residential properties or commercial properties.
Merick: For the past four years I have worked on policy issues with a commercial real estate trade association which has given me the opportunity to experience the practice from a different lens. I also thoroughly enjoyed the real property section of my Property II Course. I found that the intricate rules and case law lend themselves to fun analysis.
Colston: My family came to the United States in the 1920s with five dollars in their pockets. Through long days of hard work and sacrifice they built a bakery in downtown Chicago and sold cookies throughout the country. Over the years, my great grandparents rolled their earnings into a few neighborhood apartments within walking distance of their home, allowing them to care for and maintain each building. Eventually they decided to sell the bakery, and reinvested the capital into expanding the real estate business, with each subsequent generation joining and nurturing its growth. When I was an infant, my mom would bring me to the office while she worked, where I quickly graduated to playing in those hallways, along with the nooks and crannies of all the basements and boiler rooms. To this day, when I walk around those familiar old neighborhood buildings, I cannot help but feel my great grandparents’ presence in the legacy they left.
These personal memories and family history gave me a great appreciation for the tangibility of real property. At the end of the day, buildings and land is business that you can hold in your hands, stand on, and feel connected to. Real property law has given me an opportunity to interact with such tangibility when the field of law is typically dominated by words on a page or numbers on a computer screen.
Lynch: I have always found real property to be a fun area of law. Many people, in one way or another, are affected by real property. Whether you are looking to rent or buy a home, invest in commercial property, or maybe you have an interest in what your local government does with a nearby piece of property, real property can impact your life.
One of my favorite classes I took in law school was Land Use and Planning. The adjunct professors worked in the City of Cincinnati Legal Department and taught us about zoning and its impact on communities. They encouraged us to become engaged with current zoning events in Cincinnati and attend as many hearings as possible. As a law student looking to escape the classroom for something more practical, getting to witness the law being put into practice here in a city experiencing an economic boom and undergoing tons of land development was a valuable experience.
Q: What are your goals once you graduate?
Talaganis: I would like to work for a small- to medium-sized firm that offers a variety of work in business law. I am interested in practicing transactional law. I hope to work in Northeast Ohio.
Merick: I hope to practice at a national or global firm in Columbus.
Colston: Recognizing that the first years of a new lawyer’s work experience is often cutting one’s teeth on the more typical type of work, my longer-term career goals include moving into the property investment side of real estate in addition to legal real estate practice.
Lynch: After graduation, I hope to find a job that allows me to practice real property law. Ideally, I will find a private firm that allows me to work in land use litigation. I would love to stay in Cincinnati, but I am also open to other areas.
Q: What’s one thing you wish they’d taught you in law school?
Talaganis: I wish professors would attempt to incorporate more practical experiences in their courses. For example, in my Civil Procedure Course, my professor had us write court motions, such as summary judgments and interrogatories. That was a useful exercise and something I valued.
Colston: Ohio State has done a good job providing hands on, practical experience opportunities. With that said, a large percentage of lawyers will work for, or own and operate small firms. Additional business training would be beneficial for students to provide them this essential knowledge to better prepare them for their future interactions with owning, operating, or working in different sized firms.
Lynch: Personal and Law Firm Financial Management. Additionally, it would be nice to have learned how to obtain and maintain clients at a law firm.
Q: What’s your advice to someone thinking about a career in the law?
Talaganis: My advice would be to pick an undergraduate degree that could prove useful in a legal career. Whether it’d be business or science, it’d be lucrative to have a background in a certain area that can be useful when working in certain areas of the law.
Merick: Make sure you really want it—law school is demanding and to succeed you need to be willing to prioritize school. And always do your readings!
Colston: Law school is a double-edged sword—as it can open up many different opportunities, along with a very general degree that provides competency in a wide array of fields. With this opportunity comes an immense amount of commitment and dedication, and cannot be a casual decision. The effort that goes into preparing for and taking the LSAT, all the way to the bar exam (following graduation), cannot be overstated, or underestimated. I would advise potential students to think carefully about their goals after graduation and let that guide them to the best program and location – as the state the school is in will often influence job opportunities during and after school. While some may “know” what they want to do after school, I would suggest taking a wide selection of courses to prepare for the unknown or unexpected career direction after graduation. Never limit your opportunities and be open-minded—you may be surprised as to what you find.
Lynch: If you are seriously motivated and have the desire to pursue law as a career choice, do it. Law school has been a rollercoaster of a ride, but the skills you learn in law school are invaluable.
Connect with our Scholars on LinkedIn:
Kaleigh Talaganis, University of Akron School of Law
Katelyn Merick, Capital University Law School
Danny Colston, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Timothy Lynch, University of Cincinnati College of Law