»Q & A with Leslie Ivie ('08)

Leslie Ivie ('08)Hometown:
Los Angeles, CA

Undergraduate School:
Smith College

Undergraduate Major(s)/Minor(s):
Art History (major) / African American Studies (minor)

What was your best Chapman experience (academic, social, athletic, etc.)?

I remember standing in the law school lobby with a group of high school students during one of the annual Admissions Office/MLSA High School Outreach events and sharing the good news about the law.  The good news that we can use the law and our voices to fight against injustice- we don't have to put ourselves in the fight physically.  Standing in the marbled hall with young people who face the challenges of poverty, racism and violence helped me remember why I came to law school - they gave me a sense of purpose and pride.  If I am fighting for them I have the strength to get up when I fail and keep getting up even when the prudent choice would be to lay still and surrender.

What was your greatest accomplishment at Chapman?

Learning how to listen to people I disagree with and finding wisdom in their ideas - in spite of my disagreement.

List any clubs or societies you belonged to at Chapman? What was your most gratifying experience in a club?

I was President of the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) during my 3L year and Fundraising Chair, of PILF during my 2L year. The Mission of PILF is to encourage and support service.  It is one of the greatest assets Chapman has - so much more can be done with, for and through PILF.

I was High School Outreach Chair of the Minority Law Students Association during my 3L year; Outreach Co-Chair of MLSA during my 2L year; and, 1L Representative of MLSA during my 1L year. The mission of MLSA is to connect people.  It is easy to forget about friendship in law school - MLSA makes it easy to remember.

Who were your mentors at Chapman? Explain how they helped/supported/inspired you.

Dean Tracy Simmons.  She is a leader without an ego.  She shows up everywhere, every time and anticipates every need.  I believe she hand picks every law student at Chapman and has helped shape the character of the student body so she worries about and looks after each one of us like her own special friend.

Professor Marisa Cianciarulo.  She is brave and has a quiet dignity that I admire.  She fights big battles without a big show.  Advocating for women, children, equality for new Americans (i.e., immigrant groups) in every thing she does - - by creating a domestic violence clinic that incorporates refugee law she has shown me that it is possible to defend the rights of the rejected and powerless with grace, strength and a clarity of purpose no critic could shake.

Dean Tim Canova.  He is brave and very bold. The Chapman Dialogues were a huge undertaking and he nurtured that project like an author with her first novel - with devotion, creativity and a real passion.  His commitment to a vegan diet also changed the way food is planned at every event  - so many students have expressed their gratitude for this simple and powerful change.

Visiting Professor Judith Koffler.  She is a scholar with the soul of a poet.  Her keen insight into the human character, command of language, law, literature, and culture are humbling. As a Fulbright Scholar she traveled to China and risked her life to teach young people about democracy, liberty and imagination.  I admire her the way I might admire the discovery of a new planet or cluster of stars - with awe.

What was the biggest risk/best payoff of your law school experience?

Writing about people and issues that I thought were not my own personal issues - writing about Haitians, prostitutes, surrogates and gender and/or sexual orientation minorities - this has been the risk of exploration.  The risk of exploration has paid off by revealing the world to me.

What was your favorite class at Chapman? Why?

Tax law because my frustration with the subject led me to dig deep beneath the law to discover that justice is not created by law - and Law and Literature because that class showed me that justice is something human beings are entrusted with for better or worse by something strung neatly between and all around us.  In Law and Literature we read Crime and Punishment, Billy Budd, Merchant of Venice - Kafka, Melville, Dickens, Shakespeare - they are wonderful teachers.

What was the hardest thing about law school?

Learning to defer to the professor's authority while maintaining one's own unique intellect and point of view.

What advice would you give to someone considering law school?

Remember that the law is a tool you can learn to use on behalf of people - - you must not be fooled into thinking that people are tools to be used by the law.  (That's really important!!)

What advice would you give an incoming 1L at Chapman?

Fall in love, get close to God, be playful, be sexy, be you (the success of your life will be measured by what people say at your funeral so you have to go through law school like it is part of your life - - not all of your life).

Describe your greatest memory about Chapman.

I remember calling a professor after class and crying about all the injustice in the world and being so worried that the law was no match for all the big problems in the world - - he just said, "The law is an instrument whether or not it works depends on the lawyer." His words gave me such a feeling of hope, comfort and responsibility.

How might you give back to Chapman after leaving?

-Recruiting students of color and encouraging the expansion of PILF/Public Service at Chapman come to mind.

-Speaking at High School Outreach events, supporting PILF Silent Auction.

What are your post-graduation work plans?

I'll be working for Professor Young and looking for a public interest job.

What is your fantasy job?

Public Defender, Human Rights lawyer or Professor teaching biblical interpretation and the law from a progressive/"Lefty" point of view or some combination of lawyer/priest/teacher/social worker.

After taking the bar, do you have any travel plans?

My fiancé and I are going camping!! (We'll try to do it in Hawaii - - but that depends on his work schedule and money).

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