Joann Bautista


Class of 2018

Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa

Undergrad: University of Iowa

Major: Journalism and International Studies

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

I was a paralegal at an immigration law firm in Iowa City —Cole & Vondra, PC. I worked there for almost five years, specializing in immigration law. I worked with a lot of Spanish speaking immigrants from Mexico, Central America and South America but I also worked with people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Japan, and India. My job as a paralegal involved a variety of tasks including: preparing and submitting motions and filings with the immigration courts in Omaha, NE and in Chicago, IL, guiding clients through the provisional unlawful presence waiver (I-601A) process, working with domestic violence victims and helping them apply for temporary immigration benefits, and assisting juvenile immigrants through the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) petition process.

Maine Law

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

I lived in Iowa my whole life but always wanted to live on the East Coast. When I was looking at law schools, I knew I wanted to go somewhere small because for undergrad I went to a huge University where it was very easy to get lost in the crowd. And while I truly enjoyed the school I went to, I knew I didn’t want to repeat that experience with law school. I am also interested in immigration and human rights law and I know the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at Maine Law is very distinguished.

How would you describe your experience at Maine Law?

It has been a really positive experience. It’s challenging to transition to the pace of law school, but from day one I have felt extremely supported and encouraged by the staff, teaching faculty, and my classmates. I know if I need anything or have any questions, there are a lot of people I can turn to.

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

It’s a small school that packs a big punch. There is so much opportunity and the quality of the professors and the student body is fantastic. The student population itself has a really good mix of people from different backgrounds, experiences, and of different ages.


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

I  doing some interpreting and translating in the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. I also am a 1L representative for SBA and a member of MAPIL.


What do you like best about living in Portland?

Living by the ocean is amazing. I love the smell of the salt water and just looking out over the bay. Portland has a big city feel to it but it is still manageable and not difficult to get around.

Portland has a reputation for its vast array of food options. Do you have any favorite restaurants or grocery stores?

I went to Eventide for the first time a couple weeks ago and I got a lobster roll there—it was amazing. It might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten. For grocery stores, I’d never been to Whole Foods until I moved to Portland and then in one week, I went to Whole Foods 3 times. Whole Foods is like the Disneyland of grocery stores.


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

I don’t think I could limit myself to just one thing because there’s so much to Maine Law. It’s a place that has a deep collegial atmosphere. It’s a place where you are taught by incredibly brilliant faculty who are approachable and accessible. It’s also a place where if you work hard and are a go-getter you can experience a lot. You can make an impact you might not be able to make somewhere else.