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Wayne Law 3L takes advantage of opportunities, realizes passion to serve community

January 27, 2011

FEATURE RELEASE (Jan. 27, 2011) – Julianna Rivera wasn’t sure about her career plans when she decided to apply to Wayne State University Law School. She was sure, however, that the education and experience she’d receive at Wayne Law would give her the options she wanted.

“I appreciated the fact that there are so many available avenues in law,” Rivera said. “The flexibility appealed to me. I knew that a law degree would allow me to change career plans whether I wanted to work in criminal law, nonprofit public interest law, government or corporate law. I was confident that a law degree would open the door to whatever I decided to do.”

Once enrolled at Wayne Law, she was pleased to discover a satisfying curriculum, as well as a variety of ways to gain practical work experience and numerous extra-curricular activities that matched her personal interests.

“At Wayne Law, there are so many opportunities available for students to explore their legal interests, passions and potential career paths,” she said. “Students can discover what legal avenue they want to pursue by participating in a number of activities, including moot court teams, academic publications, student organizations, internships, clinics and more.”

Rivera has taken advantage of the opportunities Wayne Law provides – and been recognized for her achievements and involvement. A recipient of the Carl Ziemba Annual Scholarship, Raymond L. Krell Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Alan Waterstone Scholarship and the Wayne State Board of Governors Scholarship, Rivera is a co-chancellor and member of the Jessup International Moot Court Team and the symposium director of the Journal of Law in Society – activities that, according to Rivera, have made her a better written and oral advocate.

Rivera is also a student attorney in Wayne Law’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic. The clinic provides student with opportunities to work on actual casework while helping underserved Metro Detroit residents in need of legal assistance. Through this experience, Rivera has witnessed first-hand the impact a lawyer can have on people’s lives.

“Especially working in asylum law, you realize how important one’s representation really is,” Rivera said. “For my clients, their asylum application is much more than a piece of paper; it is often their only opportunity for safety and freedom.”

Combined with her clinical experience, a decision that has further shaped Rivera’s future was the decision she made to become involved with Wayne Law’s Hispanic Law Students Association (HLSA) and the 313 Project. She serves as president of HLSA and has incorporated the idea of community service into HLSA's purpose and mission. Likewise, she has been very active in the 313 Project, a joint collaboration between HLSA, the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and the Black Law Students Association, which was created to collaborate with organizations in and beyond the Law School to aid in public service, revitalization and charity efforts in the Detroit area.

According to Rivera, who also was one of four students awarded for her work on a detailed assessment of enterprise zones in Michigan, all of her experiences at Wayne Law have influenced her career path. So much so, in fact, that she recently accepted a position in the Detroit office of the Michigan Court of Appeals as a pre-hearing attorney.

“I applied and accepted the position at the Court of Appeals because I wanted to be exposed to several areas of law, in line with my philosophy while attending Wayne Law,” Rivera said. “I am thankful for the opportunity and see it as a way to expand my understanding and exposure to the practice of law. Plus, I am thrilled to be staying in Detroit, especially since I can continue to support a number of community service organizations and initiatives.”

As she nears the end of her days as a law student, Rivera, who will graduate in May and begin in her new position in August, is happy with her decision to attend law school – and especially to attend Wayne Law. “Wayne Law has excellent course offerings and opportunities for students,” she said. “I was able to work with and learn from individuals of all educational and work backgrounds at a law school that holds a great deal of prestige in the Michigan legal community. I’m excited to serve the Detroit community and look forward to seeing where my law degree will take me.”

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

For more information about Wayne State University Law School, visit law.wayne.edu.

Training the next generation of lawyers, advocates and leaders