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Alexander Yorko

Alexander Yorko

Alexander Yorko was able to thrive despite the challenges of the first year of law school due to the culture at NIU Law, where students enjoy healthy competition that comes second to what he describes as a “desire to just know and learn to love the law.” He looks forward to continually pursuing a greater understanding of the law while putting his clients’ needs ahead of his own. Mr. Yorko is from Lake Villa, Illinois and studied English at Northern Illinois University before attending law school.

What was your experience as a first-year student like? My experience as a first-year student was very challenging but rewarding. I worked harder than I ever have before in my entire life. This was necessary, and it paid off in the end. The type of reading and assignments that I had to complete were different than anything that I ever experienced before. My professors were reassuring, and all of them were very approachable and encouraged us to ask questions. After my first year of law school at NIU, I felt like I had accomplished something great.

Sum up your first year in one sentence. Challenging at times, but definitely worth it, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn't change a thing.

What was the most rewarding part of your first year? I did something that not many people could do.

What was the most challenging part of your first year? Getting used to the type of reading and writing was the most challenging part of my first year. As an English major, I was used to reading fiction, and I had adopted my own style of writing. Legal writing seems very technical, and I think judges and lawyers are very used to a very specific formula (IRAC). This was difficult to adapt to because I am more of the creative type, and I think it takes years of experience before lawyers can adopt their own style and effectively implement that style.

Why are you thankful you chose NIU Law? Everyone here is very helpful and approachable, and everyone just wants to see you succeed. The librarians always went above and beyond to help you with a research assignment, and they always made themselves available. I heard that some other schools have a very competitive atmosphere (I have heard stories of people checking out books in the library and ripping out pages). I did not get that feeling at NIU. It is a little competitive, but I think that is secondary to everyone's desire to just know and learn to love the law.

What advice would you give to incoming first-year law students? Read every case at least twice and brief each case. One of the professors told us to do this on my first day. It took me a little while to get used to briefing cases. Sometimes, it was difficult to understand what happened, and some cases were just bizarre. Briefing the cases really helped me get a better understanding of each case, and this helped me immensely when I took my finals. Also, if you do not know a word, look it up. Finally, just don't beat yourself up when you get something wrong. It is better to get something wrong now, and to know why you were wrong, than to get something wrong when you are practicing.

What did you do this summer (externships, clerkships, internships, study abroad, etc.)? I had a clerkship with the judges of the 23rd Judicial Circuit. I wrote articles related to personal injury for a law firm. I also worked as a research assistant for two professors.

What was your summer experience like? I enjoyed working as a clerk. Because I worked for all of the judges, I gained experience in many different areas of the law. On one day, I could be working on a contracts case, and on the next day, I might be working on a family law or criminal case. I improved my research and writing skills, and I was able to be in a court room on some days.

How did NIU Law prepare you to succeed in your summer position? My research professor gave us research projects. Some of the research projects that I am working on now are very similar to the projects in basic legal research. Without that class, I wouldn't know where to begin.

What is your goal after law school? My goal as a lawyer is to always put my clients' needs ahead of my own.

This interview was conducted in Summer 2016. 

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Undergraduate Institution:
Northern Illinois University

Undergraduate Major: English

Hometown: Lake Villa, Illinois

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