Wednesday, November 2, 2022

For second-year law student Eyasu Yirdaw the highlight of pursuing a legal education has been the people he has met along the way.

Yirdaw is known around Boyd Law Building as a community builder and a consistently friendly face. He even hosted over a dozen fellow students for Thanksgiving during his first semester.

This high value on relationships has served him well in getting to know his professors inside and outside of the classroom. “I would consider many of my professors, friends. They are real people with real lives of their own. We’ve been able to have long and thoughtful conversations that have deeply impacted me.”

Relationships also made his first summer experience more meaningful. During his 1L summer, Yirdaw was a summer associate at Polsinelli in Kansas City. He conducted research on issues related to digital privacy rights, consumer protection, unfair competition, maternity leave, retirement benefits, and employee discrimination. Mark Olthoff, Yirdaw’s mentor and a 1988 graduate of Iowa Law, gave him practical advice on how to bounce back from criticism and use it as a learning experience. “Mark told me that very little can replace good legal writing, especially for litigation. That was great advice for me, and it makes my work with the Writing Center feel significant.”

Yirdaw’s research assistantship with the Writing & Academic Success Center allows him to assist students as they complete their first-year memorandums and appellate briefs, and, in the process, helps him hone his own legal writing skills. 

He also connects with others through other opportunities and student groups at Iowa Law—he is president of the Christian Legal Society, secretary for the Federalist Society, a student writer for the Journal of Corporation Law, and a peer advisor.

Yirdaw will be returning to Polsinelli this upcoming summer and is leaning towards a career in either Employment or Commercial Litigation. However, he wants to keep an open mind. My summer experience at Polsinelli showed me that I can explore all of my options.”

Even though he isn’t exactly sure what is next on the horizon, Yirdaw is confident that the friendships he has built so far have made the journey as first-generation law student worth it.