Sara Cressey '18Background

Class of 2018

Hometown: Kennebunk, Maine

Undergrad: Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts

Major/Minor: Anthropology/Religious Studies

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

After graduating from Wheaton in May 2013, I accepted a year-long position as a full-time AmeriCorps Volunteer managing a tutoring and mentoring program for immigrant youth at Portland High School. The program, called Make It Happen, helps students prepare for and apply to college, as well as providing educational and social support to students beginning in eighth grade. After my term ended, I spent a year working as a server, applying to law schools, and backpacking with my younger sister before starting at Maine Law.

Maine Law

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

During my AmeriCorps term, I worked with many students who had come to Portland as asylum seekers. I felt powerless because I was not able to provide them with any real reassurance or even answer questions that they had about the process of obtaining immigration status. That experience led me to decide to apply to law school. I wanted a school with a strong public interest program that provided opportunities to work with refugees and asylum seekers. I am also from Maine and knew that I ultimately wanted to live and practice here. I began researching and discovered that Maine Law has an unparalleled clinical program, which includes the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, that would allow me to start doing the work that I was passionate about as a student. Choosing Maine Law was a no-brainer for me, and I have never been happier with a decision!

How would you describe your experience at Maine Law?

I can’t speak highly enough about my experience at Maine Law. The faculty truly care about teaching and about their students. If you work hard and make an effort to get to know your professors, there’s nothing they won’t do to support you. I was overwhelmed at the beginning of this year when I was getting ready for a big job interview, and I had so many professors reach out to offer to help me prepare that I ran out of time before I could meet with all of them. I am grateful to be part of such an amazing community.

What is one thing that has surprised you about Maine Law?

I didn’t expect to love some of the classes that have ended up being favorites of mine. When we got our 1L schedules the summer before I began my first year, I immediately made an assumption that Property Law would be unbearably dull. In fact, that area of the law implicates many issues that I am passionate about and the professor made it both challenging and interesting. It ended up being one of my favorite classes during my first year.

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

I hope to stay in Portland and work in the realm of public interest, as I am interested in immigration law and criminal defense. I am currently working as a student attorney at the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC), and was fortunate enough to do work for both RHRC and the Juvenile Justice Clinic during the summer after my 1L year. It has been incredible to work directly with clients and learn essential lawyering skills like client counseling and interviewing as a law student. It has given me the opportunity to gain practical experience that solidified my interest in these areas of law. The faculty give us the reins but offer constant support, and they are truly amazing teachers.

Activities

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

I am one of the co-chairs of the Maine Association for Public Interest Law (MAPIL), and a member of Maine Law Running and the Maine Juvenile Law Society.

When you are not at school, how do you like to spend your time?

I recently started rock climbing and try to get to the rock gym as much as I can. I also love spending time with my family and friends, reading, and getting out to enjoy Maine’s many beautiful trails and mountains.

Portland

What do you like best about Portland?

It’s the perfect city! The peninsula is small enough to walk from one end to the other in half an hour, but it’s packed to the brim with everything you would get in a big metropolitan city: award-winning restaurants, unique music venues, thrift stores, bookstores, and other fantastic local businesses.

What are some things that have surprised you about Portland?

No matter how many new breweries keep opening, somehow they all manage to do well! I have also been surprised by how walkable the city actually is. I live right near the Law School and (in the warmer months) often walk downtown or to the Old Port from my apartment.

Advice

For someone who is considering attending Maine Law, how would you describe its student community?

I really value the collegial atmosphere at Maine Law. Aside from that, my classmates come from across the country and the world and bring a breadth of experiences to the table; not only that, they are passionate, dedicated, and intelligent. I have a great group of peers here who have made my law school experience all the more enjoyable.

If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Maine Law, what would it be?

If you like the idea of attending a small school where you will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and other students to make a difference, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better legal education experience than Maine Law.