Law Student Testimonial
Lisa von Biela
University of Minnesota Law School
Getting involved with an ABA committee will enhance your law school experience in numerous ways. Even if you think you don’t have time, there are opportunities you can fit into a busy schedule, and are well worth the effort. Here is a sampling of my work with the Biotech Committee.
Just after my 1L year, I participated in a Biotech Committee working group to make recommendations on the Family Law Section’s draft model act on Assisted Reproductive Technology. At the time, I knew little of the topic. As the only student in the group, I worked with experienced practitioners, and was able to contribute by carefully comparing versions of the document and noting the differences for the group to discuss. The group made me feel very welcome, and I learned a tremendous amount on the topic. This experience served me well a year later when I helped a professor develop the curriculum for a new course on reproductive rights.
In my 2L year, I applied for and was selected as the Student Representative for the Biotech Committee. My main responsibility was to revive the popular BioBlurb newsletter. Committee leadership was very supportive, and gave me the freedom to put my personal stamp on the BioBlurb. As editor, I learned about biotech issues, FDA law, and much more. I received many wonderful emails from readers who appreciated my work. As a result, I became interested in FDA law, took the course at school, and recently completed independent research on a specialized topic.
Last summer, I also had the opportunity to review two draft resolutions (“Physicians’ Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment” from the Commission on Law and Aging, and a resolution from the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities opposing legislation and policies that interfere with a medical provider’s ability to recommend and provide procedures to best protect the patient’s health). I presented the groups’ recommendations on each of these resolutions during the Section Council conference call.
These experiences share several common threads. First, I managed to fit them in, despite being a busy law student. In fact, working on these projects gave me added energy. I learned about topics I would not have learned purely from school. The projects gave me the opportunity to work with interesting, experienced people who made me feel very welcome and valued my contributions. And then there was an unexpected bonus. Not only was each project in and of itself interesting, but each project paved the way to further knowledge or an opportunity that law school itself could not provide.
There are committees on so many topics, there is certain to be one that matches your interests. Dip your toe in the water and see where it leads!