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Michael Arton

Class of 2005

LSU Law Student

Background: A graduate of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, with a communications major. Member of the LSU Law's National Tax Moot Court debate team that won first place nationally in Spring 2005; was named best individual oralist. A former teacher at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, he coached and traveled nationally with that school's top-ranked debate team; he also was a debater in his own high school and college years.

Why Law School: I did my first year of law school at LSU in 2000-2001, but I wasn't sure that the law was what I wanted to do. I thought I might want to be a high school teacher. So I got a job at Jesuit. One day, I was sitting in a high school cafeteria at 3 p.m. on a Saturday waiting to see how a group of very talented, nationally ranked Jesuit kids did in a debate tournament. And I thought: "This isn't where I want to be in my 30s and 40s." I also found myself missing law school, the discussions with other students, the feeling of satisfaction when a professor calls on you, drills a series of questions at you, and finally, after you answer them, says "You were right . . . this time."

Why LSU Law: It has affordable tuition, it's a law school with a good reputation, and it's one of the little gems that people don't know about. The tax program is amazing. I'm talking to friends at top law schools in country and they've taken all three tax courses that their schools offer. I explain I'm on my ninth one this semester. We have great professors, and the courses are really interesting. They've given me a good feel; I know that this is the type of work I want to be doing.

The Faculty: They have interesting backgrounds and insightful perspectives on any topic you come up with. They are generous. They go out of their way - they exhaust themselves to help students.

For Fun: There's a group of us who regularly play frisbee golf.

In the Summer: I teach at Stanford, Yale and Macalester. I'm working with groups of talented high school debaters, preparing them start to finish - looking at a topic, breaking it down, building an argument, developing delivery techniques, and honing cross-examination strategies.

Career Goals: Begrudgingly I've accepted my fate. I'm going to go into litigation. If I don't, my parents will have wasted a lot of money sending me to tournaments and I've wasted a lot of weekends. For me, thinking on your feet is second nature, and talking in front of a hundred people is not a big deal. But first, I will get a master's in tax law from Georgetown. The top programs know and respect LSU law's tax department and they see grads every single year as they pursue a post-J.D. program. I've gotten a really warm reception from them.

The Portable J.D.: Once I realized I wanted to be a tax attorney, I was concerned that there might be few opportunities for someone educated in civil law. I was pleased to find that was not the case. Even in my first year, from talking to the people in Career Services, I found out that many people practice out of state. There are a number of LSU law alums in Houston. You don't have to stay on I-10 to practice law if you graduate from LSU.

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jbgoode@law.lsu.edu