Meet Colleen Howard ’08
Tired with the monotony of her laboratory job, Colleen (Tang) Howard ’08, transitioned to a career where, “I would be valued for my opinions.” Colleen is now an associate attorney with the litigation firm of Porter Scott in Sacramento, California. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in genetics, Howard says she now enjoys knowing every workday comes with a new challenge.
While at Oregon Law, Colleen served as editor-in-chief for the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation, as a member of the Moot Court Board, and landed rewarding summer jobs with the Oregon Department of Justice and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Below is a Q & A with Colleen about her Oregon Law experience:
Q: “I’d like to debunk the law school myth that…”
Law school is a miserable experience. While I can’t speak for other law schools, I found my time at Oregon Law enjoyable and challenging, without being cutthroat. Students who had to miss class had no problem obtaining notes from classmates. It was nice to always be able to bounce ideas off of both students and professors.
Q: Were you involved in any outdoor recreation activities or student groups while in law school?
I was an editor and then editor-in-chief for the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation, and also served as a member of the Moot Court Board. I also participated in the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and the Law and Entrepreneurship Student Association.
Q: At what point did you realize, in law school, that things were coming together, that everything started to make sense?
After my first year of law school I worked for the Oregon Department of Justice where I focused on torts and employment law. While I felt confident in my abilities throughout the summer, it wasn’t until I began working on a federal appellate case that I began to think that I was made to do this. Up to that point, I had minimal practical experience, but my supervising attorneys trusted me and asked that I help prepare their attorney for oral argument before the Ninth Circuit.
Based on my research skills, I was able to find an argument recently promulgated by the United States Supreme Court, which I recommended my supervisors include in their argument. They agreed, as did the Ninth Circuit in a written opinion issued after my summer employment ended. The icing on the cake was watching this case progress to the U.S. Supreme Court, which also agreed with my argument and addressed the issue in its published opinion.
Q: What do you like about being in your current location?
I grew up in Northern California, so being home is what I love most. I also enjoy the close proximity to San Francisco, Napa, and Lake Tahoe for quick weekend getaways.
Q: Is there anything you miss about Eugene?
I definitely miss all the people I met during law school. The friendships I made at Oregon Law will endure many years, but it would be nice to see them more often. I also miss the little shops in Eugene that you just can’t find in Sacramento. The Sweet Life bakery is AMAZING and can’t be recreated. I also have an abnormal love for Cafe Yumm!, which is surprising because I am a carnivore at heart and they are mostly vegetarian.
Q: What did you do prior to attending law school?
I graduated from college with a degree in genetics and worked as an administrator for a virology and immunology laboratory. My role included everything from payroll to grant application and administration to billing.
Q: What influenced you to head to law school?
I wanted to transition to a field where I would be paid for my opinions, and my workday would always be different. I spoke with people in a variety of fields before I really started to consider law school. I also spoke with a number of Oregon Law alumni in the Sacramento area, which helped to convince me that law school, especially at UO, would be a great fit.
Q: Would you describe a little bit about what your work entails at Porter Scott?
My work at Porter Scott varies, depending on the cases I receive. I have worked on cases involving employment law, civil rights, and premises liability. My firm is primarily a litigation firm, so I have been involved in nearly all aspects of the litigation process from discovery to motion writing to alternative dispute resolution to trial preparation.
Q: “I’d like to give a shout-out to…”
Professor Jim Mooney — one of my favorite professors ever. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Jeannette Lavander, who provides support to the legal journals. The journals would be lost without her.
Q: “If you had to pick just one…
Thunbar, Legal Ballers, or Rock Paper Scissors Tournament
ThunBar. I’m not athletic, so Legal Ballers is out. And unlike the RPS tournament, Thunbar was a weekly (rather than annual) event.
Mac Court, Autzen Stadium, or Hayward Field
You can’t beat the roar at Autzen Stadium!
Wine tasting, brewpub, or local coffee shop
This is a tough one. I don’t think I could pick! I have fond memories of wine tasting at Broadley Vineyards, having a pint or two at the Bier Stein or McMenamins, and guzzling a mocha from Allen Bros. Coffee. Yum!
Favorite fundraiser: Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) Auction, Thanksgiving Baskets, or Duck Dash 5K
This would be a tie: I volunteered at the Duck Dash for two years in a row, and had a great time doing it. However, I also attended the OLSPIF Auction three years in a row and won some great auction items!