Rachel Petersen '17Background

Class of 2017

Hometown: Augusta, Maine

Undergrad: Colgate University, Hamilton, New York

Major: Mathematics

What did you do prior to coming to the University of Maine School of Law?

I went to law school straight from my undergraduate studies. I transferred to Maine Law for my 2L year after completing my first year at a law school in Minnesota.

Maine Law

Why did you choose to transfer to the University of Maine School of Law?

When I first started my law school search, people told me that law school was all about networking. I tried not to believe it, but when I was actually in law school, I couldn’t deny that it was true. I knew that I wanted to come back to central Maine to practice, so it didn’t make sense to continue to build a professional network in Minnesota when I could be meeting my future peers at Maine Law.

As a 2L, how would you describe your experience at Maine Law?

I have nothing but good things to say about this school. From the moment I stepped on campus, the faculty and staff have been willing to help me. The school is so small that everyone knows your name, even the Dean. My fellow students have been very welcoming, and I don’t even feel like I missed the first year here. We all share notes and study together it is nothing like the competitive atmosphere that you hear about on TV or in the movies. If I miss class, without me even asking, someone sends me their notes and asks if I’m feeling okay.

What are you looking to do after graduation, and how has Maine Law helped to facilitate that goal?

Eventually, I plan to join my father in his solo practice in Augusta, doing mostly probate work. I am looking to do something else first, and am keeping my options open in case something else piques my interest. Through the Bernstein Fellowship at Maine Law, I had the opportunity to spend this summer at the Augusta District Court, where I got a first-hand look at how the courts operate. I am also doing some legal research and writing. I have loved it so far, and after observing what law clerks do, I am interested in applying for those positions post-graduation.

Activities

Are you involved in extracurricular activities, either on or off campus? What are they?

I am involved in the Business Law Society (formerly the Transactional Law Society). It is a small but passionate group of people who like to discuss all things transactional law – contracts, IP, small businesses, etc. We plan lunchtime discussions with practicing attorneys to talk about their experiences.

I am also involved in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), which is run by Goodwill of Northern New England and CA$H Greater Portland. It is a national organization that provides free tax preparation to low and moderate income people. This is the second year that I have participated. The program was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I have had. I put in 30 hours and helped 22 people receive over $41,000 in refunds.

Portland

What are some things that have surprised you about living in Portland?

Just the sheer amount of things that go on every day in this city amazes me. Concerts, plays, open mic nights, 5k runs, museums, restaurants… If you want to do it, it’s probably happening somewhere around town.

Advice

How would you describe the student community here to someone who is considering attending Maine Law?

Maine Law’s small size is an asset. At my old school, we had 4 first-year classes, so I only met ¼ of my classmates. There was also a part-time evening section, so I was unable to benefit from hearing the views of some of my classmates who were perhaps older, or pursuing a second career. Here at Maine Law I get to know all of my classmates, because everyone takes classes together. My classes are more of a mix of life experiences, which really adds to the classroom discussions.