Faculty Spotlight

Clemence Kucera

Faculty Spotlight with Clemence Kucera

Clémence Kucera is the Assistant Dean for the Graduate, Online, and International Programs at McGeorge School of Law. She had a remarkable trajectory, dedicated passion, and distinct goals, all of which she describes in our latest McGeorge Faculty Spotlight blog.

Clémence Kucera grew up partially in Egypt and actually attended law school in Paris, France, where she found her passion for international development. She moved to California to be with her husband, where she received her LLM from none other than McGeorge School of Law. She was quickly hired at McGeorge to support the Global Center for Business & Development through securing grants. 

Developing a Passion

A dedication to international development led her to work on a multi-year program with law schools in China, training professionals in legal education. “International development work has always been my passion. I’ve always had that desire to work with other countries and other cultures,” she says. 

On a personal level, however, traveling to China every month became complicated when she and her husband began growing their family. So when the former director of the LLM programs retired, Clémence accepted her new position. From there, she played a significant role in the creation of the MSL program, which has received acclaim for its innovative curriculum and approach. And she still loves her work. “It fits with my passion to educate people in the law so they have the resources to navigate the complex world we live in.”

Clémence’s broad perspective and extensive background in international development has helped her create a program that bridges the gap between traditional law school education and the real-world experience that law students need to succeed in the global market.

Helping Students Achieve Their Goals

Clémence’s role as the assistant for graduate online and international programs involves assisting students through various steps such as recruitment and admission. “Our department is like a small school within the big school that aims to be a one-stop-shop for students.” Recognizing that the graduate school experience can be overwhelming, she often focuses her energy on individualized attention to each student. 

“The most exciting part is working with the students after they are admitted and helping them with their course selections. We talk a lot about which courses make the most sense for them in achieving their current goals.” She’s also there if they need her when those goals and priorities shift. “It’s super exciting to see our students going through the program.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Clémence is committed to constantly advancing and improving the program. Her work with the alumni office provides the perfect opportunity. “The other part that I love is meeting with our MSL graduates to ask if there is anything else that they think we should teach, and what they think people with this degree should know.  Their professions change with the law.” She likes to hear feedback from students and make a plan of action to address their notes. The positive feedback she often hears serves a purpose, too. Nothing beats a student saying, “This is the class that made it for me. This is the class where I learned the skills that led me to the job that I have right now.” She personalizes and customizes each students’ trajectory to the best of her ability. “I want them to feel heard.” 

The McGeorge Edge

Since McGeorge is the only ABA-accredited law school in Sacramento, there is naturally a tight-knit community. Anyone with a legal background in the city is likely to be a McGeorge graduate – especially those employed in government, environmental law, and water law. “Because we have a smaller program, we get to know all of them, stay in touch, and celebrate their success stories.” 

Her passion for international development has led to a pursuit of strong interpersonal and community connections, which has helped her create programs that bridge the gap between traditional law school education and the real-world experience that law students need to succeed in the global market. “There are a lot of things that you can do with an MSL degree. So if you’re wondering, ‘Is this the right degree? Why should I do that?’ then listen to our webinars, read our blogs, and meet with us when you can.” 

Clémence can even put you in touch with McGeorge alumni, because she knows the importance of making those connections as soon as possible. “They know what McGeorge has to offer, they practice in the field, and they have all the connections you need to start your network. You don’t have to wait until you’re graduating from the MSL to start your networking – you can start as you’re applying!” Her goal is always to best serve and prepare her students. “If you’re trying to enter a specific field, make sure you stand out from others. I think the MSL can give you that edge, and we can guide you.”

Rebecca Olson

Faculty Spotlight with Rebecca Olson

Rebecca Olson

Before college, Professor Rebecca Olson, ‘05, knew she wanted to become a lawyer. Even in high school, she was fascinated by the mysterious machinations going on behind legislation. From a bill becoming law to election protocol, she wanted to know the full story — and now she does.

Meet Professor Olson

Professor Rebecca J. Olson is a founding partner of Miller & Olson, LLP, where she specializes in political, campaign, election, and nonprofit law. She provides legal advice to corporations and trade associations, and serves as general counsel and treasurer to many campaign committees for local, state, and federal candidates, ballot measures, and corporate and trade association Political Action Committees (PACs). 

She also handles matters relating to compliance with campaign, lobby, and election laws, and represents clients on enforcement matters before the Fair Political Practices Commission. Additionally, she specializes in the formation and operation of nonprofit organizations, including compliance with Internal Revenue Code, California Franchise Tax Board and California Attorney General requirements. She is a member of the California Political Attorneys Association. As an accomplished McGeorge School of Law alumna and now professor, she has plenty of insights and advice to share. 

Becoming a Lawyer

Professor Olson earned a Political Science degree from Tulane University and decided to become a paralegal – but only as a brief stop on the road to becoming a lawyer. As she learned and grew in her role, paralegal job opportunities started sounding more and more fun, so she stuck with it. At the same time, she was volunteering for a Congressional campaign, where she discovered that she could apply her paralegal skills to the political world. She happened to be working at the law firm that was representing the campaign, giving her the inside scoop. After a few years of learning campaign finance as well as preparing and filing government reports, she applied to law school at McGeorge with a refreshed focus.

Professor Olson was drawn to McGeorge’s proximity to the state capital because she wanted to stay connected to the legislative action. Years later she was again drawn in, this time to teach, when Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Experiential Learning, Mary-Beth Moylan, called and asked if she’d consider an adjunct position. Spoiler alert: she said yes. She’s found, as both student and professor, that one of McGeorge’s strengths is how much interaction is required of the students even in an online program. 

A people person, the lack of face-to-face connection challenged her teaching style and has been a learning curve. She can see, however, “the emphasis that McGeorge puts on ensuring that interaction is occurring and that discussions are happening even though you’re not all sitting in the same room.” 

Participate and Communicate

Professor Olson advises McGeorge’s online students to “participate as much as you can once you’re there and communicate.” Just because you’re not sitting in the room or having a spontaneous conversation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t secure the support you need. “If you know something’s going on, you need assistance or an extension, have a concern about the program, or just want advice, reach out!” she said. As much as possible, Professor Olson proactively reaches out to her students, so they know that she’s a real person and here to help. The well-designed combination of flexibility and foundation means that a great education is available to a broader range of law students. 

While McGeorge offers a comprehensive and rigorous program, it’s not aimed to break you down, she says. It’s more about extending your established knowledge while teaching you to speak the language of lawyers and become their most valuable asset. “I think it can be a hugely important thing for a career. It just allows more choices and potential for growth,” Olson said. She laughingly has to plug her favorite class of all, the Election Law course, and explains how it provides a 360-degree view of a complex subject, and positions students to fill legal roles in a complex political field. 

“I finally had people understand what election law even meant!” Olson said. How are elections run? How are votes counted? How do you keep up with the updated Supreme Court rulings on voter rights? There’s been a significant change of focus, and an MSL helps you meet the newly increased demand for scrutiny. The public needs qualified people with a strong backbone to run these elections, and Professor Olson assures us that the need “has grown significantly and continues to grow.”

Find Your Passion

Her final words for prospective students aren’t just law school advice, but life advice: Until you get interested in something specific, it’s really hard to know what jobs are out there to aim for. If you find an interest in something, delve into it, and find out how people make a living doing it. “You may be surprised,” she says. “We walk through life thinking there’s a set number of types of occupations, and there aren’t. There are a significant number of different types. Don’t pigeonhole yourself, be open, and figure out what gets you excited every day. I’m an election law nerd and I love it, but that’s not for everybody. Find your passion! There’s no one path that makes you a successful person.” 

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