Journalist Law School Benefits Both Journalists & Students

Sherene Tagharobi
Sherene Tagharobi ’19

When student Sherene Tagharobi ’19 left her career as a successful journalist to enroll at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, she hoped to one day work again with reporters. But the aspiring First Amendment defense litigator didn’t expect it to happen the summer after her first year of law school. From June 7-10, 2017, participated alongside 41 other  journalists from across the country as the Loyola Law Fellow in the school’s prestigious Journalist Law School (JLS).

Loyola’s JLS was founded in 2006 by Professor John Nockleby, director of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program, as a way to better educate the public about the U.S. legal system. Now in its 12th year, the program annually hosts between 35-40 reporters looking to improve their legal reporting skills. More than 420 reporters from a wide range of print, broadcast, radio and online outlets have completed the fellowship since its inception. In addition, one top Loyola student with a strong interest in journalism is selected annually to participate as the Law Fellow.

As a journalist, Tagharobi found herself in a courtroom almost every week. She had always been fascinated by the law but craved a deeper understanding of our nuanced judicial system. Her curiosity led her to Loyola Law School, where she just completed her first year as a full-time student. Before law school, Tagharobi traveled across the Western U.S. as a field producer for ABC News, covering everything from the San Bernardino terrorist attacks to the Dallas police shooting. Prior to that, she reported for NBC San Diego, earning an Emmy nomination and first-place investigative reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists. 

“I know the Journalist Law School has been around for years, but it feels like it was made for me. Thanks to some of my favorite professors, I get to connect with my reporting roots and further my legal education alongside the country's finest legal journalists,” says Tagharobi, who also is considering a career as a legal correspondent. “I couldn't imagine a better way to explore the intersection of my two passions: journalism and the law.”

Spanning four days, the JLS covers core law school subjects such as constitutional, criminal and civil law in addition to breakout sessions on everything from legal ethics to class actions. Focusing on the legal issues dominating news headlines, other panels will delve into the Supreme Court transition, voting rights, fake news, health care legislation, climate change, international diplomacy and conflict, government access and transparency, police accountability, artificial intelligence, crypto-currency and much more.

"Loyola's commitment to legal journalism was a big reason I chose Loyola!" says Tagharobi. "I certainly hoped to be a part of JLS when I enrolled. In fact, I almost applied to the program itself but had already decided to go to law school at that point."

The JLS offers fellows and the Loyola community unique access to judges through panels such as “The Court’s Perspective: A Panel Discussion with the California State-Federal Judicial Council” and “The Third Branch Confronts Race & Class: Fines, Fees & Bail.” Judges scheduled to speak include the Hon. Edward J. Davila, Judge, United States District Court, Northern District of California; Hon. Elena Duarte, Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District; Hon. Ronald H. Sargis, Chief Judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California; Hon. Brian C. Walsh, Judge, Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County, California; and Hon. Patricia Breckeridge, Chief Justice, Missouri Supreme Court.

Throughout its 12-year history, Loyola’s JLS fellowship has featured dozens of panels led by or including judges – and with good reason. “The credibility of the legal system hinges on judicial independence,” says Nockleby.

All of that is not lost on the JLS fellows, whose reviews underscore the importance of the expert mix. “Access to top-notch faculty and a great range of guest speakers from across many elements of the law provided an exceptional opportunity at this point in my career,” shared one 2016 fellow.

Follow the 2017 JLS on social media using #JLSLoyola. Learn more about the program on Loyola’s  .