Amy Hertel

Major: Political Science

Year of Graduation: 2000

Graduate School: Law School, Stanford Law School; Master's in Public Affairs, Princeton

Current Job: Consultant, McKinsey & Company; formerly worked as an Associate at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP. As a member of the Trial group at Dorsey, I have done federal litigation primarily on behalf of Native American Indian Tribes. Prior to this position, I served as a federal judicial law clerk to the Honorable Mary M. Schroeder, Chief Judge the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. I have left the practice of law to join McKinsey & Company as a consultant.

What led you to a career in law?

I decided to go to law school and pursue a joint degree because I believed I could see the upper limits on my career progression if I only went to graduate school. Entering law school, I did not know if I would ever want to practice law, but I remained open to the possibility. I joined the legal profession because I found the people and the work to be intellectually stimulating, and I had good mentors invested in my development. Although I am now choosing to leave the practice of law, I don't regret the decision to practice law at the beginning of my career.

What skills are important to be successful?

The skills that I find most useful as an attorney are: (1) strong work ethic; (2) outstanding writing; and (3) attention to detail.

What advice/suggestions would you have for students/alums who wish to enter this field?

Study hard for the LSAT - it is a learnable test, and it determines your fate with respect to which law schools you may attend. Go to the very best law school you can. Learn what the work of an attorney is before embarking on this career path and only go to law school if you want to be a lawyer. It is an expensive degree, which constrains your career choices thereafter. That said, if you have reason to believe you'll love it, give it everything you have and be a leader in the profession.

What advice/suggestions would you have for students regarding the LSAT and law school application process?

As I said, study hard for the LSAT. Whether or not this should be the case, law schools will look at that number and make determinative decisions about the applicant. Make sure you get a number that says what you want it to say about you. As for the application process, do multiple drafts and share them with mentors and friends who are invested in your success and/or have experience with these applications. They are career-determining and should be given all the time they deserve.

What experiences might be helpful for students interested in a law career?

Find out what lawyers really do, and decide if you want to do it, too. If you can find a way to work in a law firm or in the office of an attorney (public sector or private sector) before making a commitment of 3 years of your life, $100,000+, and your career -- you should do it. Many students who end up in law school have been paralegals and that is great exposure to the practice of law, especially if you're interested in litigation.

How did your CSB/SJU education impact you and your career choice?

I did not take any pre-law classes at CSB/SJU. I was focused on my major (political science) and my minor (economics) and I found that taking classes that really interested me with outstanding professors was a good formula for academic success. I received a tremendous amount of individualized attention from professors. Education is a "you get out of it what you put into it" situation, and I found that I got even more out of it than I put into it, thanks to some key people who gave me a lot.