Julie Russomanno Nilsson

Major: Political Science
Year of Graduation: 1998
Graduate School: Hamline University School of Law, JD, 2001
Current Position: Stay-at-home mom; Pro Bono Law Volunteer

Tell us about your work by giving a brief description of your current position as well as others you've held. 
Currently, I am a volunteer attorney who helps homeless young adults with legal problems/issues at a Homeless Youth Legal Clinic as well as do volunteer work through the Children's Law Center of Minnesota.  I also represent youth in their Child Protection Proceedings in Hennepin and Ramsey County. I am also an active member of the Legislative Committee focusing on issues related to youth aging out of the foster care system in Minnesota. 

During law school, I was a law clerk at Children's Law Center of Minnesota and a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem.  My first job out of law school was as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Children's Law Center of Minnesota.  My job was to create a sustainable program focusing on the needs of youth preparing to exit the foster care system.  I spent two years working on the program for CLC.  I did a short stint in the Admissions Office at Hamline Law School, and then I worked for Minnesota Justice Foundation (at the U of M law school), an organization that finds volunteer opportunities in the public interest realm for law students.  In addition to this Staff Attorney position at the U of M law school, I was an AmeriCorps Attorney who created pro bono volunteer opportunities for lawyers and law students at nonprofit legal organizations in Minnesota.     

What led you to a career in law? 
My passion to want to serve abused and neglected children/youth in a way that I could cultivate positive changes for them in their lives.  There is no better way to do this than to be their advocate in a setting (the courtroom) where decisions are made that affect their lives so profoundly. 

What skills are important to be successful? 
Passion, hard work, and persistence in staying focused on what you really want to do professionally.

What advice/suggestions would you have for students/alums who wish to enter this field? 
Know why you want to go to law school because you will question your decision, regularly, throughout your time in law school. 

What advice/suggestions would you have for students regarding the LSAT and law school application process? 
Take a review course for the LSAT, like Kaplan, to maximize your score potential. You only want to take the LSAT once since the scores are averaged.  As far as the application process, spend time on your personal statement, take courses that compliment skills like logical reasoning and analysis (admissions folks  do  thoroughly review your transcripts), pick your references carefully and make sure they write about how your skills are relevant to law school (writing, analysis, logic), and visit the law schools you hope to attend to meet with the admissions folks and get a tour of the school.     

What experiences might be helpful for students interested in a law career?
If possible, intern at a law firm, or intern/volunteer in a capacity that is related to the type of law you want to pursue.  Be mindful of all the various types of law careers that are out there from the public interest realm to the private realm.  There are so many different venues of law.  

How did your CSB/SJU education impact you and your career choice? 
Undoubtedly, the Ten Hallmarks of a Benedictine Education had a direct impact on my career choice.  I always wanted to combine serving children and working toward the betterment of society with my professional career choice.  I have been fortunate to discover and live my passion for the past 10 years.