My name is Jacqualine Lombardo and I am a May 2013 graduate of Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. I started my time in higher education with the hopes of becoming a social worker, but decided early on that I wanted to do more. I wanted to follow a path of legal advocacy so I could help those who could not help themselves. In 2009, I sat for the LSAT, then applied to law school. WMU-Cooley gave me the opportunity to fulfill my greatest potential.
My time at WMU-Cooley allowed me to really find myself and to figure out my strengths. My experience with their Access to Justice Clinic, along with the helpful guidance of the professors along the way, really solidified for me what I wanted to do in my legal career. I couldn’t have done it without them. WMU-Cooley’s externship program also gave me the opportunity of a life time. I was able to work directly with the American Civil Liberties Union in Honolulu, Hawaii for my externship. It was the most incredible experience, professionally and personally, that I have ever had! I attended legislative committee hearings almost every day, sat with the governor, and met with elected officials on a regular basis, giving me exposure to progressive legislative campaigns and the opportunity to advocate for civil rights throughout the state government.
When I came back home to Albany, New York, in April of 2013, I knew that I had to study for the bar exam and studied every single day. I used the tools and study skills I had learned from my experience at WMU-Cooley. I am proud to say I passed on the first try and shortly thereafter became a licensed attorney.
As far as my job search, I can tell you only one thing: NETWORK! Join as many organizations, groups, and bar affiliations as possible. Form relationships. People will get to know you, your passions and your personality. By networking, I was able to secure my very first job as a real estate attorney – a position I held for over a year before another networking opportunity brought me to an estate planning firm.
Currently, not only am I practicing law at an incredible firm with amazing people, I also get to utilize every skill I learned at WMU-Cooley. My area of focus is estate planning, administration and guardianship petitions. It is an incredibly rewarding experience. I feel that my law school experience at WMU-Cooley gave me the confidence and courage to always seek out what I want in an intelligent and strategic way.
From the bottom of my heart, I hope every person who enters WMU-Cooley Law School has the experience I had. They have such incredible professors willing to guide you and help you. My education at WMU-Cooley gave me everything I needed to confidently go out in the workforce and find the career of my dreams.