Lucas Wetsch, a 3L law student and research assistant for Professor Chris Odinet, shares about how his experience has helped prepare him for a career in law.
Thursday, August 17, 2023

Motivated by the variety of research opportunities and financial support, Lucas Wetsch pursued a research assistant position with Professor Christopher Odinet. 

Professor Odinet's research focuses on commercial law, consumer finance, and property law, with an emphasis on digital/crypto assets, financial regulation, bankruptcy, and mortgage lending.

We spoke with Wetsch to learn more about his work as a research assistant and the valuable experiences he gained through this position.

Lucas Wetsch headshot
Lucas Wetsch, a third-year law student and research assistant for Professor Chris Odinet. 
Tell us more about the research assistant positions available at Iowa Law.

Iowa offers research positions with professors, research librarians, and various deans at the school. Research positions at Iowa Law require students to go through a formal application and interview process with faculty, helping students develop their networking and professional skills before they enter their careers.

Another unique aspect of positions at Iowa Law is the wide array of research focus areas. The faculty have vast areas of expertise, allowing students to find supervisors and projects that align with their interests. 

Finally, the flexibility of the positions in terms of required hours and commitments is beneficial for students looking to gain practical experience while also having time to pursue other interests.

What motivated you to become a research assistant?

The tuition benefits have significantly reduced my cost of attending law school. The financial support I received as a research assistant has allowed me to focus more on my studies and research work without worrying too much about the financial strain. This has allowed me to take advantage of other opportunities that may not have been feasible and to maintain a healthy work-life balance during school.

While the tuition benefits were undoubtedly a motivating factor in my decision to become a research assistant, other factors contributed to my interest in this position.

One important motivation was my desire to gain practical experience in the legal field before entering the profession. I wanted to gain exposure to the types of research and writing tasks that lawyers conduct regularly. Further, I was excited by the idea of working closely with an experienced professor, allowing me to learn from an expert in the field and engage in active discussions about legal topics.

Can you describe a project you worked you found particularly rewarding?

One project I worked on as a research assistant that I found particularly rewarding was conducting research and writing on the legal implications of the emergence of "neobanks" in the financial industry. Neobanks are a new and developing area of law.

As a research assistant, I had the opportunity to contribute to my professor's understanding of this emerging field by conducting extensive legal research and analysis. My research work included analyzing regulatory frameworks relevant to neobanks and examining current trends and developments in the financial industry.

I had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of various parts of the legal sector and collaborate with a professor who is an expert in many fields. Overall, working with Professor Odinet and other research assistants has been a rewarding experience and has helped prepare me for my future career working with attorneys in a large law firm setting.

What opportunities has your research assistantship provided that you may not have had otherwise?

My experience as a research assistant has allowed me to explore new and emerging areas of law that I may have yet to have the opportunity to study otherwise. This has allowed me to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape and has expanded my horizons beyond the traditional legal curriculum.

In addition to networking opportunities, working as a research assistant has also allowed me to develop and refine essential skills, such as legal research, writing, and critical analysis, beyond the required 1L curriculum. Overall, working as a research assistant has provided me with unique and invaluable opportunities that have enriched my law school experience and will undoubtedly positively impact my future legal career.

What advice do you have for students considering a research assistant position?

Iowa Law professors would love to sit down with you and explain their research focus, allowing you to choose a position that aligns with your interests and career aspirations.

I recommend starting the process as early as possible, even if a particular professor does not have a job posting. While you're in the position, I suggest consistently refining your research and writing skills, as your time in this position is very important.

Research assistant positions are heavily focused on research and writing, and therefore I recommend having a professional writing sample in anticipation of applications.

Last, although there are many professors, I recommend being open-minded and willing to explore new areas of law if a specific professor has already filled their position.