The Class of 2015 graduate found her calling in litigation.
Jacquelyn Rex, a Class of 2015 graduate of Boston University School of Law, has kick-started her career with a clerkship for the Hon. Rolando Olvera, on the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville.
Rex’s clerkship responsibilities range from preparing for civil and criminal motion hearings and pretrial conferences to preparing for criminal sentencing, trials, and drafting opinions. Her role is to ensure the judge is properly apprised of each case’s status, the relevant laws and regulations, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of parties’ positions.
Originally from the Rio Grande Valley on the Texas-Mexico border, Rex graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in telecommunications and journalism. She joined Teach for America and was placed in the Rio Grande Valley corps. For the next three years she taught elementary special education at her own elementary school.
During her third year of teaching, Rex became interested in the various policies and laws associated with educating students with disabilities. Realizing she wanted to be among the decision makers for these policies and laws, she decided to apply to law school.
BU Law was an apt choice, says Rex: “BU Law’s professors are consistently ranked among the top nationally and the University’s clinical programs and moot court competitions offer hands-on learning.” BU Law’s generous financial aid package enabled her to fulfill her dream of pursuing the legal education of her choice.
Although she was apprehensive about her move from Texas to Boston, she found her peer group friendly and welcoming. “I became a better version of myself because my classmates set an extremely high bar and motivated me to reach it.”
How BU Law made a difference
One of Rex’s most memorable experiences at BU Law was the Homer Albers Moot Court competition, which required her to master international arbitration concepts and the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvement Act. After practicing for 18 hours a week on their opening statements and questioning each other on their respective issues, Rex felt both exhilarated and challenged at the finals, when they had the opportunity to argue before Judge Torruella (’57) of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Katzmann of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Wilson of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. “It’s an experience not many young lawyers can claim to have had while still in law school!” says Rex.
The Civil Litigation Clinic gave Rex the opportunity to work with clients, submit real motions and memoranda to the courts, and appear before judges and hearing officers. “I remember being terrified as I stood by the fax machine to send in my first motion. But the clinic director, Robert Burdick, had tremendous confidence in me,” reminisces Rex. “The clinic was a great way to get real legal experience in a safe learning environment.”
BU Law offers students a wide range of opportunities, says Rex. Through the government and public interest on-campus interview program, she learned of an internship opportunity with the Office of the Solicitor (SOL), the litigation arm of US Department of Labor. She was placed on a team with senior litigators who were preparing for an OSHA whistleblower trial scheduled in six weeks. She was tasked with researching and drafting portions of the Secretary of Labor’s brief, editing cross-examination questions, and sifting through payroll documents to calculate damages.
“Getting to do real ‘front line’ work with such high stakes was the most fulfilling part of the internship,” she says.
During the fall 2014 semester, Rex completed an externship for Judge Nathaniel Gorton of the US District Court of Massachusetts. She learned to sharpen her legal reasoning, and drafted a memorandum and order for a habeas corpus case under his guidance.
The way forward
Although Rex originally pursued law school to learn about policy work, her experiences in the moot court competition, clinics, her internship with the SOL, and her externship with Judge Gorton led to her to litigation and positioned her well for her current role as a judicial law clerk.
Rex has her aim set high, with plans to pursue a career as a trial lawyer with the US Attorney’s Office in due course.
Time and again, she is challenged with unfamiliar facets of law. But her law school experience gives her the confidence to explore new areas. “The most rewarding part of my job, as corny as it may sound, is seeing justice served,” she says. “That makes all the hard work and the long hours worth it.”
Reported by Indira Priyadarshini (COM’16).