Phillip Clift goes from court to courtroom

By Jamie Hunt

Phillip Clift loved competing on the basketball court during his freshman and sophomore years at Exeter Union High School. His favorite player is Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson. But Clift gave up basketball after his sophomore year to focus on his grades to compete in another court - the court of law.

&#8220Phillip has known that he wanted to be a lawyer since his sophomore year,” said his mother, Tina. &#8220He's very driven and focused. Law appealed to him because you can take a point and argue it and possibly sway someone to your interpretation of the law.”

Clift graduated in the top 10 of his class at EUHS with numerous awards and scholarships. Everything that he does, be it basketball, or his academic classes, he has an amazing drive to succeed. He said one of the most enjoyable aspects of high school was Mock Trials, where students from each high school have to prepare to defend or prosecute a trial before an actual judge.

Clift participated in Mock Trials his junior and senior year after coach Jim Stanaway convinced him to join the team. Clift said he enjoyed the give and take between the defense and the prosecuting.

&#8220I like to argue.”

The American Legion Post 94 selected Clift to represent Exeter at the Boy's State Conference in Sacramento in the summer after his junior year. He learned about leadership and worked and talked with politicians about the legislature and making new laws, along with a tour of the state capitol.

Clift applied to UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and Pepperdine University and was accepted to all of them, but decided on Santa Cruz, where he was awarded the Regent's Scholarship. Clift's parents will be moving out of state this summer, so one of his older brothers will help him settle into Santa Cruz. &#8220I'm ready to experience new things that will test my conservative ideals and beliefs.”

He is the first of his family to attend a university, his mother said. After graduating from Santa Cruz where he will major in legal studies, Clift plans to attend Sever Law School at Pepperdine University to obtain his law degree in business or tax law. Clift said he missed playing organized basketball, but he has continued to play for recreation. He did say that he might play inter mural at the university.

With all of the tax trouble million-dollar athletes like Allen Iverson get themselves into, someday he might need the legal services of one of his biggest fans.

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