Nick Tarasen, '12

Nick Tarasen '12
Hometown: Los Angeles, California, then St. Petersburg, Florida. These days, home is wherever his books are.
Undergrad: University of Chicago, '04
Major: International Studies and Biology
Law School activities: OutLaw, Public Interest Law Society, Law Review, Clinic, and Hinton Moot Court. He also supports the American Constitution Society and the Intellectual Property Law Society.

As a graduate of the University and now a third-year student at the Law School, Nick Tarasen can attest to Chicago Law's environment of ideological diversity and respectful debate.

“Obviously, if you put enough future lawyers in the room, you're going to get a multiplicity of opinions, whether the issue is contract law or same-sex marriage,” he said. “But there's an intense respect here for thoughtful engagement, and I think it's a tremendous educational asset to encounter some classmates whose opinions are different, and perhaps need some nudging. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that our ideological diversity encompasses members of the Law School's gay and lesbian population, as well.”

Like many Chicago Law students, Nick spent several years working after graduating before deciding to attend law school. Part of that inspiration came from his work--he spent three years with Lambda Legal's Marriage Project.

"I figured that our country could suffer at least one more lawyer who was interested in using his knowledge of the law, every so often, for some other cause than a hired one--and ultimately because, as a gay American, I don't enjoy full equality under this legal regime, and I'd like to help remedy that," he said. 

His choice on which school to attend was a no brainer. His experience attending the University of Chicago for undergrad made him appreciate how the University valued ideas and the skillful teaching of those ideas. He also thought the Law School’s smaller class sizes would lead to a better classroom experience.

As a 1L, Nick was one of the few students to lead one of the Law School’s lunchtime talks, which are typically reserved for outside guest speakers. His presentation gave an inside look at the legal strategies behind the Proposition 8 lawsuit and an overview of same-sex marriage laws in the United States. He is now the vice president of OutLaw, the Law School’s LGBT student group. (Go here to read OutLaw's information for prospective students.)

Nick hopes to use his legal skills some day to fight for LGBT equality and will be working at a law firm next summer that contributes pro bono work to that field. But he said his focus is on becoming “the most thoughtful and skilled lawyer I can be.”

“I know that the Law School has helped me accomplish that in myriad ways: the intellectual exercise of classes, one-on-one interaction with clients and writing briefs in the Clinic, arguing both sides of a case in moot court, working with professors to develop a piece of original academic writing (itself on the subject of LGBT rights), or even just learning from some of my brilliant classmates over lunch in the Green Lounge.”

Here is Nick's advice for 1Ls:

"Resist getting swept up in collective anxieties about learning the material, doing well on exams, and eventually finding a job. Remember that you can't work all the time, that you shouldn't feel guilty about taking time out from studying to attend Wine Mess or to watch this week's episode of Glee. And if the collective wisdom about how (or how much) to prepare for classes or exams or how much time to spend on the Bigelow brief doesn't gel with your instincts, feel free to deviate from it every once in a while, and don't look back."