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2L Elizabeth Montano

Before coming to UM Law, Elizabeth received a B.A. in Interpersonal & Organizational Communication from the University of Central Florida. Now, this Broadway- & Dog-Loving 2L contributes to the UM Law Community through her involvement in the Academic Achievement Program and the Street Law Program. Elizabeth would like to thank everyone who has brought/brings/will bring their dog(s) to campus. We can all agree with Elizabeth when she says, “You make my day!” 

How has law school surprised you? 

As I was touring various schools before deciding to attend U.M., I heard horror stories about the competitiveness and the hostility that stereotypically occurs in law schools: students tearing pages out of books, stealing materials, being deceptive, teachers being unreasonable and terrifying, etc. While the students here strive to do the best they can and finals time is scary for everyone, I have never experienced hostility or competitiveness to the levels I was expecting. The students are friendly, the teachers are always willing to help, and I can really feel that we all care and have high hopes for each other.

What clubs and activities are you involved in at UM Law? 

Teaching is something I have always loved to do and something I have made efforts to continue doing throughout each stage of my life. Two programs I am involved in this year are the Academic Achievement Program and the Street Law Program. I wanted to be a Dean’s Fellow this year because the Dean’s Fellows I had last year were so crucial to my success. I hope to be that helpful and informative to this year’s 1Ls. The Street Law program is something I was drawn to before I decided to come to U.M. and was actually a big factor in making my final decision. I love that I get to go out into the community and teach high school students not just about the law, but also about things like college preparation, job interviews, and other life skills they may not learn about anywhere else.

What do you like to do outside of school?

 

I love Broadway musicals, going to the dog park, cuddling with my cat, and baking!

What have been some of your favorite events at UM Law?

I think Breakfast With the Bench and Evening With Esquires are two of the most rewarding events I attended as a 1L. I got to meet seasoned judges and lawyers and learn more about the legal profession from people who were once in my shoes and have become very successful in their chosen careers.

This week’s spotlight: 3L Haley Moss

Before coming to UM Law, Haley received a BA in Criminology and a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida! Haley strives to make a difference in the lives of others with disabilities and focuses her time on opportunities that allow her to give back to the community. 

Why did you decide to come to law school?

I wanted to go to law school so I could make a difference in the lives of others with disabilities. It’s such a privilege as an autistic person to be in law school in the first place, and I have always been passionate about helping others with disabilities and giving back to them.

What is the typical day in the life of a UM Law student? 

I wouldn’t go by me on this one since I face a different set of challenges as a law student with a disability/as an autistic law student. I I build my daily schedule around my needs, but no matter what I try to pick one day each week (usually a Saturday or Sunday) where I can focus on me and non-law school things.

In what ways has law school been what you expected?

It’s a lot of work! Everyone always says law school isn’t undergrad, but I don’t think there’s any way to adequately prepare incoming students for the sheer amount of work even though you know a lot of work is coming at you.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I’m really passionate about helping others with disabilities and who are on the autism spectrum. I love to write. I’ll write stuff down all the time. I write a column on HuffPost about autism and try to contribute once a month. I love drawing and painting as well and I’ve been doing it for years. When I have downtime, I love to read a good book or watch movies.

What clubs and activities are you involved in at UM Law? 

I’m the president of the Child Advocacy and Family Law Society this year. I also am the Secretary for the Society of Bar & Gavel, serve on the Public Interest Leadership Board, and am the Chief Notes & Comments Editor for the Race & Social Justice Law Review. Everything I am involved with at the law school revolves around giving back to the community. The best part is being around like minded people who you know are here to serve a greater purpose beyond themselves.

In your experience, what has been most rewarding about being a student at UM Law? 

The practical experiences, especially Litigation Skills. I am someone who loves public speaking. Yet Lit Skills totally terrified me. There’s a huge difference between talking about something you know to a huge audience, and having an audience of a judge and jury. Lit Skills gave me the confidence to speak in court even though can be a little scary, and it has also made me a more articulate, composed speaker in my outside public speaking on autism. There’s a bigger take-away from it than learning how to make arguments to the jury and conduct witness examinations.

What have you found to be the most challenging? 

Oddly enough it isn’t the work. Probably the time management aspect. This is extra hard especially being autistic since executive functioning (planning, working memory, staying on task, etc.) is hard enough for me. There are days where I want to do everything, but it isn’t possible. It can become overwhelming to balance life and living skills along with schoolwork and wanting to be involved and make the world a better place and still maintain my interests and hobbies and the work I have dedicated the better part of my life to outside of law school. People always ask me, “how do you do it?” and the truth is, I don’t – sometimes I don’t sleep, sometimes I forget to do my laundry – something falls through the cracks that isn’t always obvious to an outsider.

What events have you enjoyed at UM Law? 

Barrister’s Ball my 1L year. I loved getting dressed up and I won Miami Heat tickets for the next night, so Barrister’s Ball weekend was nonstop fun for me! It was very necessary at that point in my law school career as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about being a UM Law student? 

Sometimes law school is really hard. Sometimes it’s frustrating. But above all, I am beyond blessed to be at Miami Law and am thankful to have spent the last two years here. It really is an incredible opportunity and I think it’s so easy to forget that when you get caught up in the day to day…so I really want to say how blessed I am to be a Miami Law ‘Cane!