“From my earliest memories, I can remember wanting to be a lawyer,” says Dana Roche ’19. That goal propelled her from her hometown of Omaha to New England Law | Boston and informed every step along the way.
As an undergrad at the University of Nebraska Omaha, Roche majored in criminal justice and minored in political science to get as much exposure as possible to the legal field. She also worked as a law clerk at a personal injury law firm. “I wanted to ensure that I was truly interested in working in the legal field before making the jump to attend law school,” she says. Ultimately, her younger self was right: law continued to pull at her, and Roche decided to take the LSAT and apply to law school.
The question, then, became what law school to attend. “I’ve always loved to travel and visit new places and I thought attending law school in a new state would be the perfect opportunity to gain new experiences,” Roche says. With family in Massachusetts and her sister living in Boston, Roche was familiar with the area. Of course, the prestigious Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Honors Scholarship she was offered made the decision to attend New England Law pretty easy too.
With an undergraduate background in criminal justice, Roche thought she was primed to pursue a career in criminal law. But, like many law students, a fateful experience out in the real world (working for a local DA’s office) changed her path. “Having the ability to work in different areas of the law each summer while in law school was extremely beneficial,” Roche says. “I would encourage every law student to make the most of these opportunities.”
“My favorite professors have always been those who are so obviously invested in their students’ success,” Roche says. “For example, as a 1L, Professor [Gary] Bishop was always available to answer any questions I had, which can make a big difference when you are learning new subjects and going through finals for the first time.” Another favorite professor of Roche’s was Gary Monserud. “I always felt like he was so invested in ensuring that his students understood the material backwards and forwards.”
Adjunct professors who not only cared about student success but brought unique experiences to the classroom, like the securities regulation work done by Professors David London and Stephen Frank, also stood out to her. “Learning from professionals who do that work every single day was a really cool experience,” Roche says of her experience with London and Frank. “The classes were always interesting, and I was able to learn a lot from them because they had so much knowledge to share.”
And last but never least, there’s Coach, aka Professor Robert Coulthard. “I’ve never seen a professor who spends so much time at the school, working individually with students, and trying to do everything he can to help ensure we all pass the bar,” Roche says. “It is pretty incredible, and also the fact that New England offers his class [Advanced Legal Analysis] is a unique aspect that makes the school stand out from others.”
And just like that, three years flew by, Roche says. Her advice to other law students? “Keep your head down and just take things one day at a time instead of focusing on the long road ahead,” she says. “That made a huge difference for me in terms of being able to enjoy my academic experience.”
Roche will be joining Dvorak Law Group, a law firm in Omaha, working with their commercial real estate team. She can already see her law career unfolding there for the foreseeable future.
“It is a pretty surreal feeling when dreams that you had as a child become a reality.”
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