Jairo Bustos is a father of two, a six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. A second-year student at GGU, he works full-time at a civil litigation trial firm in San José where he is on the paralegal team. A full-time employee, committed father, and dedicated student all at once? That’s a lot to navigate. So if anyone has realistic and genuine feedback on the experience of pursuing a JD Flex degree, it’s Jairo.
Believing in Yourself
The idea to pursue an advanced education was actually planted in high school. Jairo admits to getting into a lot of trouble during his freshman year, which resulted in spending his high school years on juvenile probation. As part of that probation, he completed a 12-week nonprofit legal education mentoring program. Current law students taught Jairo about his legal rights, and it was the first time he had ever really thought about or understood them. He began to look up to these law students and become inspired.
He graduated college, but his education wasn’t over. Again, it just took a little help and inspiration. “I think a lot of it had to do with me not really believing in myself. When you think of a J.D. degree you think of future lawyers who are incredibly smart. I never felt like it was attainable.” First of all, he wanted to set an example for his son and show that he pursued his dream even when scared. “If I failed, I failed, but I knew that I tried it.”
Envisioning Yourself as an Attorney
Next, one of his undergraduate fraternity brothers, now a district attorney and GGU alum, walked Jairo through the whole process. “I didn’t know what the LSAT was. I didn’t know what GGU was. He really allowed me to envision myself as someone who could become an attorney one day and sparked my interest.”
“I would have these coffee meetings with him, which first started as ‘let’s just talk about the possibility of going to law school’ and turned into ‘okay, what are you doing to study for the LSAT?” He strongly vouched for GGU, which happened to be accepting the inaugural applications for the new JD Flex program.” Jairo began to research what a part-time degree might look like. An informational session confirmed what he thought from the start: “The program could be perfect.”
Finding the Perfect Program
Knowing he would have to work full-time, long days ending with night school didn’t appeal to him. Alternate on-campus weekends did. “Everything was pretty seamless as far as the online platform, but I definitely like that it’s hybrid and not all online.” Jairo discovered that he learns well when actually sitting in a classroom and appreciates the interaction with such great professors. He singles out his first-ever law class at GGU with Professor Anna Benvenue as particularly memorable.
“She laid out how to be successful in her class so well for us, and a lot of what I learned I still use in all my other classes.” He went out of his way to choose one of her courses again this semester. “I love the way she teaches. I’m supposed to be taking Copyright Law right now, but I chose her elective class instead. That’s how much I like Professor Benvenue.” He also loves how Professor Spencer Williams squashed his students’ collective fear of getting cold-called upon for answers in their Contracts class. “He would really walk you through how to get to that answer. He’s such a great professor. All the professors are really welcoming.”
Figuring Out What Works Best for You
Jairo is on the IP Track, and though he is still contemplating career paths, he’s confident in the quality of education he is currently receiving. “When I graduate I’ll know about IP, which is a tough area of law to break into,” he acknowledges. While waiting on more real-world experience to help determine what sector of law he’s most passionate about, “ I feel like I’ll have the time and knowledge to transition if I need to.”
In the meantime, Jairo stays humble about the process. “I’m still learning about myself and optimizing my study habits for different classes.” A high-achiever while completing his undergraduate degree, “I think a part of me was expecting to come into law school and get straight-As.” Now he invites the difficult process of trying out new methods. Expectations are more pragmatic and achievable. “Really take the time to figure out what works best for you – and believe in yourself. You’re here for a reason.”
As his education progresses, Jairo gains perspective on the overall experience. “I think the way the program is set up, there are a lot of people who maybe wouldn’t otherwise have gone to law school. Many of my peers have multiple children, really busy lives, or come from other states. GGU is giving us the opportunity to pursue careers we really want, guided by great staff and professors. I’m just really grateful.”