change in his career path. He had earned bach- elor’s degrees in physics and Spanish and a minor in math at the University of New Mexico. After spending enough time working in a lab to realize he didn’t like it, he learned about the field of patent law.
A Look at the Class of 2011 S
tephen Marshall was on his way to be- coming a physicist when he made an abrupt
The possibility of combining his interest in sci- ence with the law was enough to turn him toward law school. He applied to only one – the UNM School of Law – where his grandfather, Peter Gal- lagher, had received his law degree in 1951.
“I knew I wanted to practice law in Albuquerque, so it was the best place to go, and you can’t beat the price,” said Marshall, who graduated first in his class.
Initially, he struggled with the grayness of the law, which was the opposite of the black-and-white physics world he came from. As his comfort with legal principles grew; however, he found the log- ical reasoning of law very similar to that of his physics background.
Marshall was impressed by the diversity of his classmates’ backgrounds and he established friendships he knows will be long lasting. He en- joyed every course he took and was a manuscript editor for the Natural Resources Journal. Surpris- ingly, he was never able to fit in any courses in copyright or patent law, even though he took the patent bar after his first year. Those classes just never fit into his schedule.
In addition to the legal education he received, Marshall said his writing skills improved tremen- dously and he gained the confidence to take risks in standing up in front of people. “I took Advanced Evidence and Trial Practice from Carl Bettinger (`90), who required each of us to stand up and sing a song,” said Marshall. “After singing in front of class, talking was much easier.”
After his second year, Marshall clerked at the Rodey Law Firm, an opportunity that came from the school’s on-campus interview program. He also became a father. That summer set the stage for his future, as he joined Rodey after graduation. “Dur- ing the summer I spent at Rodey, I could tell that
everyone there was good at what they did and they have a lot of unique interests, and that it is a fam- ily-oriented firm,” he said.
Initially, Marshall will be working on medical malpractice cases, but he still harbors an interest in intellectual property, hoping that one day he might be able to work in that area.
See Peter Gallagher Profile on Page 31. • •
Ever since he was in middle school and argued a make-believe case before a make-believe jury inside his Detroit home, D’Ontae Sylver- tooth knew he wanted to be a lawyer. Though no one in his family had graduated from high school, he had his sights on a legal career.
Sylvertooth earned a bachelor’s degree in crimi- nal justice and a master’s degree in public ad- ministration at Old Dominion University. When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offered him a job in Albuquerque as a federal in- vestigator, he relied on Google to find out about the place. After four visits, he accepted the job. Right away, he visited the UNM School of Law.
When he received his J.D. in May, Sylvertooth not only saw his dream come true, but he achieved it in a way that defied time. He entered the UNM
He also found time to socialize and study with his classmates. “I liked the idea of staying up late ar- guing issues with my friends,” he said. “One day, a group of us started studying at 2 p.m. for our criminal law class and we didn’t stop until 6 the next morning. It was fun because we were argu- ing principles over and over.”
In the spring of 2011, he received a Presidential Management Fellowship, which was awarded na-
Class of 2011, Continued on next page UNM LAW •5
School of Law as a flex-time student, continuing to work full time at the EEOC. After his first year, he figured he could increase his law-school com- mitment. Not only did he continue to work full time while taking a full course load, but he didn’t let many additional opportunities slip by.
“I wanted the full law-school experience as much as possible,” he said.
At the end of his first year, Sylvertooth, of Blackfeet heritage, won the New Mexico Court of Appeals Appellate Advocacy Tournament. He was co-edi- tor-in-chief of the New Mexico Law Review, com- peted on two moot court teams and was a member of the 2011 national mock trial team that won the regional tournament and competed in the nationals. He was an active member of BALSA, MALSA and NALSA.
Stephen Marshall (‘11)
D’Ontae Sylvertooth (‘11)
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