I had the privilege of interviewing ALU School of Law graduate, attorney and inspiration, RoseAnn Frazee, class of 2008. Ms. Frazee passed the bar on her first try at the age of 65, but she had been studying and “practicing” law since she was 12 years old in Alaska. Ever since that first appearance in court, when her father was charged with “cruelty of animals” and she yelled at the Marshal for lying on the stand, and then found a provision that saved the day, she has pursued her dream of a legal career.
Now Ms. Frazee is advocating in a civil rights case that may put her before the US Supreme Court. As the Daily Journal reported, “RoseAnn Frazee was admitted to appear before the US Supreme Court last month at age 72, after appealing a case in which she’s invested at least $50,000 of her retirement savings.”
Aside from her time as an attorney, Ms. Frazee has raised a family and has held numerous jobs at numerous law firms. She clearly gives her all to her clients. We’re proud to call her an ALU alumna.
What made you want to study law, in particular at an online law school?
I had wanted to go to law school my whole life, it seems. I attended [ALU] classes in person. ALU was located on the West Side on Robertson when I started. It was close to my job. So, I just dropped by on my way home from work or I stayed at work to study while traffic died down.
At that time they also had CDs/cassettes we could buy that had the classes recorded on them. Since I lived in Eagle Rock on the East Side and traveled to work on the West side, I listened to classes in my car about 3 hours a day. Also, since I was a litigation paralegal, if I missed a class, I could pick it up “on-line.”
Editorial aside: ALU no longer has lectures on cassette – although, students can download audio files in mp3 format at their option for review purposes only.
What was your experience like at ALU?
I had a lot of fun. I created a study group and about all of my student members passed the Bar; we are still real close. We went to class on Saturday and then met after class at a home located on the Westside. ALU gave me an Award for Outstanding Services ([ALU] surprised me at graduation) for helping other students.
What was the transition like between studying law and practicing law?
I had been in the legal field since I was 18 years old in all positions in law firms so the transition was easy. The good part was that I paid for my law school monthly while in school, so I had no student debt when I graduated. Kirk Laron also graduated and passed the Bar at the same time.
You’re known for your passion and your connection to your clients. How do you sustain that energy in your practice? How do you find balance in your life?
I like my clients and feel that they need good representation. I don’t have that much balance: I have a boyfriend, I spend part of the weekend with him, and I live with two of my children and a grandchild. Other than that, all of my activities seem to be work related.
Can you talk about your potential Supreme Court appearance and the journey there?
Well, right now I have pending a Writ of Certiorari. If the Supreme Court decides to accept the case, then the Supreme Court will set a schedule for briefing and oral argument. The journey there with my 1983 excessive force case would require a book, which I think that I might write. Basically, my client went to a hamburger drive-in at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night in 2009, ordered a hamburger and was looking for change. He accidentally bumped the car in front of him, backed up and saw a car behind him, so he moved forward again and accidentally hit the car again – with absolutely no damage to the car in front of him. The car in front was driven by an off-duty LA County prison guard who came out of his car with gun in hand and, long story short, shot my client while he was sitting in his car. My client was dead on arrival at the hospital, and was in a coma for three months, etc. etc. He is permanently disabled. We have litigated this case through two trials, at the Ninth Circuit, and now the U.S. Supreme Court since 2010.
Do you have advice for current and future ALU students?
It would depend on the student. I used to attend orientation and advise them based upon their questions. I guess the simple answer is “never give up.” You have obstacles to overcome at all times in your life, even in law school. I had breast cancer while in law school, took the baby bar while in radiation treatment, worked as a litigation paralegal during the day, and sometimes had to work extensive hours in participating in trials, plus had four grandsons to help support at home. I went to basketball games with law books in my hands.