• Bereza Photography

Law Student Confidential: Fantastic, Beautiful, and Humble Whirlwind

Updated: Feb 5


The third chapter in a project witnessing and learning more about fellow law students and their motivation behind moving their life & family all the way to Missoula, Montana to pursue their legal education. Meet Hallee Kansman.

Hallee Kansman's Story

I distinctly remember the first time I visited Glacier National Park. I was 10 and completely in awe of the natural, picturesque beauty of the monstrous mountains and vast landscape. I know what you’re thinking; how can a 10-year-old remember such an occasion? Well, let me ask you. How can one forget the extreme magnificence of Glacier? Exactly!

We were staying in Many Glacier and our first hike was Iceberg Lake Trail – a strenuous 10-mile round-trip, featuring open valleys and a lake with literal icebergs! As we sat on the chilled lakeside to eat lunch, I took a deep breath in and pictured my life in the mountains. This was the very first moment I realized I belonged to the mountains and to the West.

Flash forward about 13 years...my goal to end up in the West was nearing! After completing a Bachelors of Science, I knew my path required higher education. I began exploring PhD programs and pursuing advisors for research. I looked at Oregon State, Colorado State, and of course, the University of Montana. UM was my first choice. How could I pass up on living in the state of my dreams? After relentless phone calls and numerous rounds of applications, I was denied due to a technicality with the advisor I chose.

I was heartbroken. What the heck was I supposed to do now? My dad, being the cerebral type, began laying out logical options for me. One being law school. I asked him, “how could I get into law school with a biology degree? Aren’t you supposed to have a pre-law degree or a political science degree?” He said, “Nope! You simply need to take the LSAT and advertise yourself effectively in an essay application.” First, the LSAT...not so simple; and second, I’m sure others feel this way, but I am horrible at talking myself up in an essay...so thanks dad for those words of encouragement.

After humoring my dad and weighing every option, I figured I would give it a try. I studied for the LSAT and took it for the first time in September 2016. Naturally I was extremely sick and did not score well. I felt defeated. I sat down after the exam and wrote out reasons for going and/or not going to law school. Typical factors, like cost, moving away from family and friends, and availability of jobs after law school were on my con list. Although those factors are quite influential, it was my pro list which truly made the difference. My pro list included only two factors: (1) moving to Montana/the West; and (2) being an advocate for the environment. That was it! I knew at that moment, that even though I would incur a substantial amount of debt, I was meant to become an attorney. I didn’t want to be stuck in a lab for the rest of my life. I wanted to be on the front line of defending the environment and wanted to make a difference as an advocate. I dusted myself off, gave a pretty good pep talk, and took the LSAT again in December 2016. And the rest is well, history.

So that’s how I ended up applying to and attending the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana! With each day, I am reminded of my decision to pursue law school. And boy am I grateful for making this decision. I am thankful for what I have learned, what I have experienced, and the people I have met and become friends with. This past year and a half has truly been a whirlwind, but a fantastic, beautiful, and humbling whirlwind. I cannot wait to see what the future brings and cannot wait to be that advocate in the state I love. Oh, and don’t worry...I go to Glacier as often as possible! So, come find me on a trail.

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