Profiles: James Kirby
Tell me something interesting you did before you came to law school.
Between college and law school, I spent another year -- I went to college at Loyala Marymount and I spent a fifth year, just after graduation, hanging out with friends and I worked as a boot fitter in a high-end outdoor store in West LA where we had a lot of celebrities come in.
So, the third day I was working, coming out of the back of the clothing department, there's a big curtain and I'm walking through the curtain looking at some tags and I almost bumped into this woman. And I said, "Oh I'm really sorry", she turns and said, "Oh, it's okay." It was Jennifer Connelly. And we had Emile Hirsch, Harrison Ford, Ellen Page, come in and it was really fun. Ellen Page was going to Colorado for her skiing, and walks in looking at socks. I said, "Can I help you with something"? And she said, "I'm small, I get cold, I'm going to Colorado." So, it was fun to kind of get the more personal perspective on people you see on TV and in movies. Did you grow up in LA?
I grew up in the foothills of Auburn, California. My family grew up in LA. My dad grew up in Santa Monica, my uncle lives in Manhattan Beach, where he's an attorney. So, coming to GGU was a way to get away from home, but family as a backdrop if I needed it.
What made you decide to go to law school?
I've kind of wanted to do law school since high school. I'm really interested in politics, political science was one of the things I studied at LMU. I'm fascinated with how social norms construct the law and what is and isn't allowed and everything. My other degree is in history, so I studied a lot of the Roman law and a lot of the older stuff. So, it's kind of funny to see the evolution of it. I really want to try and help people, and I figured that law school was the best way I could do it. And I have two cousins, my aunt and my uncle are all attorneys, so it kind of runs in the family a little.
Is there something special or interesting about your law school experience so far (other than being President)?
I really enjoyed the Paris Program, but one of the things that I really, really enjoyed was being a peer mentor last year. I really liked connecting with the 1Ls and really help guide them around their first couple of weeks, and then maintaining a really good relationship with them the entire year. I went to Paris with four or five the people I mentored, and we had a great time. We're friends now. It was fun to take someone under your wing and be like "alright, breathe, relax, go here, do this, you'll be okay, just take it step by step" then to see them grow as students. I'm sure people saw me do the same thing.
What is your greatest source of motivation or support as you enter your third year and working toward completing your JD?
As a student, I love learning, so that in itself is its own motivation. I've always enjoyed reading and writing and just learning new things, and trying to delve deep into new subjects. As far as support, I really have a good group of friends here. We have a great community at GGU anyway, but the first year, I really developed some strong ties with about 10 or 12 people, and we've stayed connected really well.
Did you do any externships or work in the clinics?
I haven't really done any externships or worked in the clinics at all. I've done a lot more hands on classes like civil pre-trial, IP litigation, depositions this semester and I'm going to do advanced trial ad. So, I've been trying to focus more on that stuff and picking brains of people who are doing externships for the differences between the citations and all that kind of stuff.
Do you think you'll sign up for one this coming year?
I was thinking about doing one of the clinics in the spring to help lighten my load and also prepare me for getting out in the real world.
Dean Van Cleave: I think they're great for experience. It is helpful to go to hearings and see other lawyers. But the thing about externships in addition to perhaps the actual real experience you're getting, it's a way to get a window into lawyering. Where you're still a student, so you're still slightly removed from it, but you can start to observe different lawyers and their styles, and what seems to be effective with judges, juries, and opposing counsel, and what's not so effective.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not in school?
Sports; anything athletic, whether I'm watching or playing. I love going to baseball games; I love playing softball tournaments and playing basketball. My friends and I try to play basketball once a week, usually on Friday mornings because that's when the gym is not too busy. Otherwise, I spend as much time as I can reading. I try to read a fun book during my schoolwork to read at night, before I go to bed, or when I'm on the bus. Sometimes I'll go to Dolores Park because I live in the Mission and I'll go read for an hour or something. Some of the best books I've ever read are biographies. As a history major, I've read some of the most fascinating things in the world. There's a book called The Raven. It's about Sam Houston, and it's absolutely fascinating. He did some things that you never thought would be doable, but he's an actual person. There's a great quote, I can't remember who said it, but it's: "Who needs fiction with heroes like these"?
Can I ask what you are reading right now?
I just finished reading a Brad Thor spy novel. I also just finished Elite Child, which is one of the Jack Reacher novels. And my mom just gave me a fantasy book, it's called In the Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. I'm about 170 pages into that.
Do you have any advice for new students?
Definitely! I think one of the best things -- and this was told to me when I was at orientation--and it's probably one of the things that I've passed on more than any other piece of advice is find something you really enjoy outside of school. For me, it's sports. For someone else it could be going to museums or doing artwork. Find that one thing that really helps you relax and calm down, and do it once a week for about three hours. Doing something on a Saturday or Sunday for three hours to relax, helped me take my mind off of school, and then start refreshed once I went back to my studies.
That's probably good advice for getting through the Bar too. If you weren't in law school right now, what might you be doing?
I'd probably be living back home in Auburn and substitute teaching and working with the basketball team at my high school. My best friend is the head volleyball coach and he would love for me to coach volleyball, but I prefer basketball or baseball.
Do you have any idea about what kind of law you would like to practice or in what sector?
I'm getting my intellectual property and litigation certificates after the end of this year. I want to do some IP law. My uncle is overloaded with his personal injury, specializing in motorcycle cases. I think I might help him with that and then do some IP on the side. Because he is in LA, I can do copyrights, trademarks, and such down there while helping with the personal injury.
And given your involvement in student government, do you anticipate getting involved with local bars wherever you end up practicing?
I think I'll get involved when I have more time. My dad ran for congress and my sister is on the school board so politics is definitely a possibility.
Anything else you think would be helpful for people to know or that we haven't covered so far?
If anyone has any questions or anything, they can always come ask me. I'm an open book; I don't really hide anything. If anyone needs help with school stuff or just getting around the city or anything, they can feel free to come to the SBA lounge. I'm always there, in the office, even if I'm not in class.