Rural Law Fellow

Ryan Rutledge '19Background

Class of 2019

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

Undergrad: University of Central Florida

Majors/Minors: Philosophy/Energy & Sustainability

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

I spent three years working as a content strategist and copywriter at various creative firms before I met my wife and ran away to Maine.

Maine Law

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

After initially falling in love with Maine itself, Maine Law wasn’t far behind.  Overall it was the smaller class sizes, specialized programs, well recognized professors, and convenient location in Portland that convinced me to apply.

What has been most helpful to you in making the adjustment to the life of a Maine Law student?

Due to Maine Law’s smaller enrollment size, there seems to be a unique sense of camaraderie among Maine Law students and alumni. The friendships and connections I’ve forged along the way remain as strong today as they were on the first day of orientation. We all want to see each other succeed, and I think that makes life a little bit better for everyone.

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

A combination of my 1L courses and the Rural Law Fellowship really helped prepare me for the courses that open up during your second year. This summer I helped an attorney prepare for and attend a trial in Superior Court, which is now being appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The case required a lot of research into the Federal and Maine Rules of Evidence, which really prepared me for Evidence during the fall semester of my 2L year.

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

President John F. Kennedy, who spent a considerable time in Maine throughout his life, said “a rising tide lifts all boats.” So far, that perfectly encapsulates my journey at Maine Law. There are a surprising amount of connections and opportunities that immediately become available to students enrolled at Maine Law – both right here in Maine and across the globe. As my class has matured since orientation, feedback from the community indicates that we are making a name for ourselves, which in turn has opened doors to connections and opportunities for all of us.

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

I’m looking forward to helping people solve their problems – whatever they may be. I know for sure that I’d like to get out of Portland after law school, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been made one of the Inaugural Rural Law Fellows for that very reason. Maine is largely a rural state once you leave the greater Portland area, and the Rural Law Fellowship is doing a great job of showing law students like myself what life is really like if they want to practice in a smaller law firm in a rural community. In just a ten week fellowship placement, I learned countless lessons and skills that I will carry with me throughout my legal career, and I can directly link those skills back to the Rural Law Fellowship at Maine Law. I’m glad I chose a school that focuses on experiential learning, externships, and fellowships that are helping to teach me the practical skills that you simply can’t learn by sitting in a classroom.

Activities

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

I am the Vice-President of the Finch Society at Maine Law. (The Finch Society focuses on connecting law students with rural and small town practitioners to provide a place for students to learn more about what rural and small town legal practice is like.)

Portland

What do you like best about Portland?

Portland is great because of its people and centralized location. With a little planning you could easily start your day at the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, and end it on an island in Casco Bay. Also, Boston is less than two hours away if you’re looking to visit a bigger city.

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

  • Terra Cotta in South Portland makes fresh pasta and sauces every day. Micucci’s is a close second.
  • For dinner and drinks head to The Roma and afterward downstairs to Bramhall in Portland.
  • Scratch in South Portland has the best bagels, and their made to order sandwiches are somewhat of a ritual for me on Fridays after class.
  • As a native Southerner, I can testify that Hot Suppa knows a thing or two about shrimp and grits, and Big J’s Chicken Shack has the best fried chicken in Portland.

Advice

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

This is a small school with a big impact. The professors here are incredible. I think the quality of life and cost of living here in Maine keeps native Mainers happy and attracts a lot of great people ”from away.”