I’m In: Ready for What’s Next (Part 8, Christine McFadden)

In spring 2019, Christine McFadden was a newly admitted student to UW Law’s J.D. program. She shared her hopes and plans for law school. Now, we reconnect with McFadden as a new graduate who is reflecting on her law school career.

Her work in the Race and Justice Clinic, which provides services and representation to incarcerated or recently released young people of color, was the most impactful of her legal education and where she honed invaluable skills that will guide her future legal career. It was in this clinic that she learned how to speak with clients, how to make sure she was truly prepared, how to make motions better, how to strengthen narratives and how to collaborate with others to truly take her work to the next level.

Thanks to her legal education, McFadden feels like she gained a superpower, one that will enable her to make a profound impact in her community.

Learn how UW Law has prepared McFadden for what’s next.

Watch the playlist of all "I'm In" video stories.

Read the Transcript

[text on screen] In spring 2019, UW Law interviewed Christine McFadden, then a newly admitted student to the law school’s J.D. program.

Christine McFadden: I kind of see a law degree as you're getting like another superpower in a way. You're kind of getting this ability to do things that, you know, one without a degree wouldn't be able to do. And so I think getting this degree will help me kind of break into other fields and have an impact where I wasn't able to before.

[text on screen] Now, we reconnect with Christine as she finishes her law school career.

Christine McFadden: I hope to work on litigation that impacts a lot of people. And I also hope to represent a lot of people, specifically underrepresented communities.  As both a Japanese American and as a Chinese American and a mixed-race American, I'm part of multiple communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession, both in terms of attorneys from those communities practicing in the state of Washington, as well as just those communities being able to secure legal representation in general.

My life has changed a lot. Before law school, I was working at a tech company in downtown Seattle. I was a program manager. And since then my career trajectory has completely changed. I came in thinking I would rejoin the world that I was more comfortable with, thinking that I might be a transactional attorney, work with tech companies and that changed completely over the course of just taking classes and exploring other practice areas.

I think if you ask any 1L after they take certain courses, they see things in a totally different light. Taking, you know, property, you're walking down the street, and you just you see things that are different. You see water and you think, oh, water doctrine, and you take torts and you watch a TV show and everything's a tort.

 The most impactful part of my legal education would have to be the Race & Justice clinic. The Race & Justice Clinic provides services and representation to incarcerated or recently released young people of color. And so through the clinic, I was able to benefit from a lot of different experiences. Learning how to speak with clients and make sure that we were prepared was an invaluable skill. Definitely one that will help me in my legal career. And then just the clinic experience in general, having a much smaller class, learning from our other clinic students, seeing all of the work that they did was really beneficial. We would have certain classes where we would workshop each other's briefs, or whatever it might be that we were working on, and that was really helpful to put our minds together and see, you know, how can we make this motion better? How can I make this narrative that I'm putting together or this declaration, how can I take it to the next level?

Last summer as a 2L, I spent my time—actually I did a split summer— so I spent the first half at Davis Wright Tremaine as a summer associate and the second half at the Federal Trade Commission, regional office in Seattle, and had a really great experience at both places and was fortunate to receive a return offer to go back to Davis Wright after graduation.

Getting a law degree is like a superpower. I definitely still feel that way. There's so many skills that I think come with a law degree and there's also just a lot of responsibility. There's a lot of things that only a lawyer can do, that only a lawyer can sign off on. Seeing that degree and what it can get you and what you can do for your community with it, I definitely still feel like it's a superpower.

[text on screen] Congratulation, Christine, on a successful law school career.