A paralegal. A married mother of three. A retired man on his third career. These are among the 75 students who make up the inaugural law class at the Concordia University School of Law.
Concordia, a Lutheran school in Portland, opened its Boise law school in late August. After the idea of bringing the private law school to Boise surfaced in 2007, two questions lingered: who would go and why.
LISA CARLSON, 31, BOISE
Carlson has dreamed of being a lawyer since she was 10. I think every kid has seen Law and Order and likes to argue, she said.
She earned a degree in biology from Boise State University, married and started a family. Her three children are ages 5 through 9. Law school became a dream deferred.
She thought of going to the law school at the University of Idaho in Moscow. But all of our family is here, she says. Our baby sitters are here. Grandparents are here. And most importantly, (my husbands) job is here.
Concordias arrival shifted the landscape. Now shes attending from early afternoon to early evening.
The wait may have been beneficial, she said. Being a more mature student, I am bringing more life experiences to the table. I know what I want. I am taking this seriously.
PAUL SLOAN, RETIREE, BOISE
Sloan draws Social Security and a pension from his former career as a college professor
Hes not driven by the need to become an attorney with a giant bank account. He seems more interested in chasing ideals as he embarks on his newest career, well past the time many would simply retire (though he declines to disclose his age). The democratic process is built on several principles, he said. One of them is the rule of law. (But) the rule of law and equality under the law is less applicable the lower on the socio-economic status you get. Im not sure that is good for democracy.
Sloan has worked as a social worker in drug and alcohol treatment.
He went to Ukraine to help restructure education after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He first thought of going to law school in 2003. He considered commuting to law schools in Portland and Seattle. Concordia is giving him a chance to carve out that new career at home.
Youre not going to get rich, he said. But you might make enough to pay your student loans.
SHANNON PEARSON, 27, BOISE
Pearson graduated from Boise State with a degree in criminal justice administration and certification as a paralegal in 2007. Life looked set. She was comfortable working in a law firm a little too comfortable.
I didnt want to be 20 years down the road still doing exactly what Im doing, she said. Id been exposed to attorneys, and it demystified what attorneys do.
She wanted to go to law school but didnt want to attend the University of Idaho in Moscow. The town is too small. If I was going to move somewhere, (it would be) California, Seattle, the East Coast, she says.
Concordia gave her the opportunity to study here. She received encouragement at the law firm where she works. She has already established networks in the local legal community by working as a paralegal. Her street cred, as she calls it, would disappear if she moved to a new town.
Shes challenged and excited. Caffeine and Advil are going to be my new diet, she says.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts