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Heather O’Connor is a 3L. After a seven year marriage and three kids, Heather went through a divorce that left her questioning what to do with her life. She decided to become an attorney and has never looked back since beginning the long journey. She entered a local community college after...

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Why I am Here at RWU

Posted by Heather O'Connor on 02/04/2010 at 02:43 PM

I figure I should start this little writing journey by telling you about why I am in law school, and why I chose to spend the three years of my law school career at RWU. 

Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a stay at home mom.  I wanted to be one of those barefoot, pregnant ladies that spent time cooking, cleaning, and playing with my kids.  Ok, maybe not so much the cleaning part, but I definitely wanted to be involved in my future children’s lives as much as possible.  However, life has a funny way of making you reconsider your options.   I was married for seven years and had three children (Jenna, TJ, and John), but then ended up in a big, messy divorce.  This was the first time I had ever really experienced going to court.  (Yup – I was a good girl growing up!)  Although divorce itself is heart-wrenching, stressful and sad, there was something about the process that was greatly appealing.   I have since described it as an illusory puzzle – there really is no “right” side, there really is no “winning,” but the stronger the arguments, the better your strategy, the better your imaginary pieces seem to fit into this imaginary puzzle – you get a judgment in your favor.  I grew up figure skating and I am very competitive.  I like to win.  In fact, I like to not only win, but outshine.  Watching lawyers stand before a judge arguing their cases set a little fire inside of me.  I was sitting talking to my lawyer and he said to me, “Heather, you’re on your own now.  You have three kids to take care of.  Do you have a plan?  You need a plan for your future.”  I looked at him, and can honestly say I shocked him with my reply, “Yes.  I’m going to be a lawyer.” 

Many times since that day in the courtroom, people told me I couldn’t do it.  Many times since my decision, I have doubted myself.  However, I made a commitment, and I stuck to it.  I started taking classes at Massasoit Community College.  I also amazed myself that I actually liked being back in school.  I liked learning new things and challenging the way I thought about my beliefs.  After graduating with an Associate’s degree, I continued on at UMass Dartmouth where I had great professors (who I still stay in touch with) and was able to extend my learning even more.  Then came the stress of the LSAT and the law school applications.  One day I received a letter encouraging me to apply at Roger Williams University School of Law.  I looked it up to see where it ranked.  “Ohhhhh – not so good.”  However, I went to check it out anyway.

 I met with Dean Boylen, and after discussing the history and prospective future of the school, he gave me a tour of the building.  I was beginning to like this little school in Bristol, Rhode Island more and more.  It is fairly new.  It is up and coming.  It is established enough where I wasn’t going to be a guinea pig, but not so much where I couldn’t make a difference if I wanted to.  I found it very appealing to think that by attending this school, there could be some aspect of future law student’s educational experience that I had something to do with. Then I sat in on Professor Cahill’s Property class.  I had no idea what everyone was talking about.  I tried to keep up as best as I could.  Someone was nice enough to offer me his book so I could look on.  Being there, feeling the enthusiasm of the law students, seeing how Professor Cahill drew the class in on a subject I figured would be pretty boring, not being looked at as an intruder by the other students - all those things left a good feeling with me.  After the class, I went down and introduced myself to Professor Cahill.  We chatted for a few minutes.  Then she said, “You know what, you have a lot of options ahead of you right now.  I am sure you are going to have questions along the way.  Even if you don’t decide to go to this school, here’s my email address.  If you have any questions about anything, please contact me and I’ll try to help you out.”  And that right there was what made me decide to come here.  If the professors here were willing to help me out even if I didn’t come here, then how much more would they be willing to help me if I did? 

I am half way through my second year now and I can’t say I could have made a better choice in where to go to law school.  The professors, staff, and administration are all extremely helpful.  I can literally go to anyone with a question and if they can’t help me directly, they will send me to someone that can.  Without the help and support of some of the professors here (you know who you are!), there are a few times I don’t know if I would have made it through.  Roger Williams University has become my home (literally seeing how much time I spend here), but also because the community atmosphere here is unlike anything you will find anywhere else.