Major: Political Science
Year of Graduation: 2005
Current Job Position: Tax Litigator for US Treasury Department
What led you to a career in law?
A number of different things led me to a career a law. Of these, three stand out as the most important. First, the teacher that I most respected in high school was a lawyer by education. She is the one that originally showed me the versatility and power of a law degree. My experiences at CSB/SJU furthered my budding enthusiasm for law. Various law and philosophy classes and discussions with friends also piqued my interest. Finally, after graduation from CSB/SJU, I obtained a job as a county regulator. In that position I fully realized the power the law has to change circumstances for individuals, businesses, and the government.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students regarding the LSAT and law school application process?
Study, study, study! This is by far most important advice. Law schools value LSAT scores very highly. Small variations in score can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Consider studying for the LSAT as a job. Your payday will come when you get into that school you want with a large scholarship.
As a practical matter, the things I found helpful were practice tests and educational books. Take as many practice tests as you can and try to take the majority of them under real conditions. It might even be helpful to give yourself a few minutes less to do each section than would be allowed on the actual test in order to speed up your thinking and adjust for the little brain freezes you might have on the real deal.
With that said, don't stress out. If you have studied a satisfactory amount, you have done all that you could. You can always take the test again.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students/alums who wish to enter this field?
1. Be relatively sure this is the field you want to enter. Law school is a large investment in terms of time, money and opportunity costs.
2. Research different career paths that lawyers take and make sure you are comfortable with more than just one.
3. Realize that certain law jobs are very hierarchical and depend highly on grades.
4. Along with that, do not assume that you will have high grades in law school. Grading can be very arbitrary.
5. Do not ignore the down sides of law jobs. And every law job has downsides. Big city attorneys make big bucks but bill big hours (60+/week). Small city and public interest lawyers often make very little money.
6. Do not ignore the positives of law jobs. Many jobs pay a lot of money. Many jobs are highly rewarding in terms of making a difference.
7. Consider taking a year or two off between college and law school.
Describe the law school experience for you. What's it been like for you?
Law school for me has been an enjoyable experience overall. The workload, for me at least, is very cyclical. Some weeks I will study/go to class for about 25 hours per week. Other weeks I spend 80+ hours. Classes can be bit stressful if you are getting called on but usually they are just interesting. However, as I near my third year the classes are getting a little more boring... I want to get out and actually practice!
I have met a lot of smart and interesting people from all over the country at law school and made some great new friends here. The one big change between college and law school is that the student body is much smaller, which makes the experience more like high school in terms of the human dynamic.
What experiences might be helpful for students interested in a law career?
The law affects almost everything so there are many types of experiences that are helpful for law students interested in a law career. Of course it is always helpful to chat with actual attorneys (but be sure to talk to more than one or two as lawyers tend to have polarized views of their jobs i.e. some love it some hate it).