Jonathan Nichols

Jonathan Nichols

Class of 2014

B.A., Economics
New Mexico State University

What did you do before law school, and what led you to pursue a law degree?

Before law school I had the opportunity to wear many hats. My first career was as a leadership consultant and I was able to travel across North America working on more than 100 college campuses. I got involved with the 2008 presidential election and volunteered on a campaign during the Iowa caucus. My travels brought me to Seattle a number of times, and I fell in love with this city. I decided to move to Seattle and work in the banking industry.

I always had a general interest in law and public service. However, it was not until I moved to Seattle that I seriously considered going to law school. Seeing how so many individuals were affected by the great recession while so many others got rich really got under my skin. I came to law school after years of helping people who had lost their jobs, were facing evictions or foreclosures, lost savings, been victims of identity theft or wage fraud, and I knew I wanted to be able to advocate on behalf of those people and for changes in policy that would benefit society in general.

What are your professional and personal goals after law school?

My interest to work on behalf of the public has never been greater. My first professional legal experience was with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and I absolutely enjoyed the work. Facts of the felony crimes to which I was exposed were horrible. Similar to the people I had met who had been victims of financial abuse, these people were survivors of domestic violence. Working with the prosecutors in a field like felony prosecution solidified for me that my interest in public service was not limited to any one issue, but to the cause of serving the public.

I would like to work for a municipal attorney’s office either at the city, county, or state level. Working as a prosecutor will not only allow me to pursue public service, but also will allow me to be a litigator. I know that I want to use the skills I have developed in legal research and writing, along with my interest in oral advocacy to pursue public service and I see a prosecutor’s office as the best opportunity to reach these ends.

How has Seattle University School of Law benefited you? What have you found most valuable during your law school experience?

Seattle University School of Law has provided me with opportunities for personal growth and exposed me to ways in which I can use my legal education to serve the public. Professors make sure I understand the doctrines they are teaching, and the Access to Justice Institute staff have provided me with opportunities to take action on my different interests. While the skills I have learned from the demanding legal writing program have no doubt taught me so much, what I find most valuable about my time in law school is getting to work with my classmates.

My classmates have provided me with numerous opportunities to learn from them and for me to share my experiences about growing up on the U.S./Mexico border. I could not be more proud to call these people my colleagues. While we do not always agree on a topic – in fact we disagree quite often – there is always a level of respect shown toward one another and our opinions. Professors make it a point to teach us how civility and uncompromised zealous advocacy are not mutually exclusive concepts. I think we are learning and practicing these lessons. These types of interactions will only make me a better attorney when I am working with others with whom I find myself disagreeing.

Was there a defining moment or experience that confirmed your decision to become a lawyer?

There was a time when I knew I should explore if law school was meant for me and I decided to volunteer as a legal assistant with a legal clinic that helped people facing evictions. There was one day when a single parent came in to the clinic and the lawyers helped this client avoid an eviction. I was able to help by conducting an intake of the client, spot some issues that might help and then accompanied the attorney to a court hearing that day. The attorney was eventually able to negotiate with opposing counsel and help this client avoid eviction and ultimately avoid becoming homeless. This experience was so powerful because it required this attorney to use so many of her many skills from appearing in court before a judge, to negotiating with opposing counsel, and counseling the client to establish a feasible plan. It was humbling to be able to be a part of this process and I knew I wanted to be able to think on my feet like this attorney did that day in order to help this particular client. I will carry this memory with me forever when I become an attorney and reflect on that moment as a time when I knew law practice was not only my future profession but also my calling.

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