Professor Michael P. Maslanka spoke on an employment law panel at the annual Fifth Circuit Judicial Conference last month with Judge Gregg Costa and Professor Bill Corbett of LSU Law School. Once a year, all judicial circuits meet, which allows opportunities for all the federal judges in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to appear during the conference. Trial and appellate judges, as well as bankruptcy judges, are welcome. It’s a great honor to speak on the panel, in which Professor Maslanka has participated twice. This year, he was accompanied by one of the UNT Dallas College of Law Students.
Rossina Ortega served as the Research Assistant to Maslanka. She received an all-expenses-paid full scholarship to attend from the Fifth Circuit. Ms. Ortega was the youngest person present at the Fifth Circuit meeting. “Rossina attended the Circuit Judges Dinner and was the youngest person there. She was an amazing ambassador for our law school and its values,” said Professor Maslanka.
Ms. Ortega, who graduated from UNT Dallas College of Law shortly after the Fifth Circuit meeting, recounted how her opportunity to attend developed. “The 5th Circuit invited Professor Maslanka to speak and asked him to nominate someone for a scholarship,” Ms. Ortega said. “Professor Maslanka submitted my resume. The Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit reviewed my resume and approved it.”
The scholarship involved Ms. Ortega’s flight to Nashville, where the conference was held, her transportation costs, a hotel stay at the Gaylord, and admission to the conference and all the events. She also assisted Professor Maslanka in putting together his presentation at the 5th Circuit conference.
While generational shifts are happening among lawyers, juries, and the public they serve, Ms. Ortega noticed the 5th Circuit is adapting to the times. She learned that a lot more judges and attorneys are making efforts to adjust their traditional ways of navigating the legal field to the state and the evolving country.
Ms. Ortega was proud to represent UNT Dallas College of Law, assist Professor Maslanka, and witness growth in the Fifth Circuit. Now that Ms. Ortega is an alumna, she has encouraging advice for incoming 1Ls (1st-year law students). “You are on the cusp of a life-changing experience. Make sure you are grounded, make sure that you have unwavering commitment, and make sure that you enjoy every minute of it because it is an amazing experience,” advised Ms. Ortega. “Three years fly by faster than you think.”