Motivation for Law School
Hometown: Ithaca, NY
- State University of New York at Geneseo, International Relations
Job: Litigation Associate, Dechert LLP
Before law school, I worked as a policy analyst for the New York State Assembly. Working for the Committee on Codes, my team reviewed every bill introduced in New York which included a penalty provision or affected due process rights. This role allowed me to see how the law impacts people in all aspects of their lives while working closely with attorneys who were really passionate about their work. Though I could develop many skills in real time in this position, I wished that I had the foundational legal knowledge that would allow me to advocate for policy changes more effectively. It was a difficult decision to leave a job that I loved and felt impactful. I am so grateful that Temple Law has given me the opportunity to develop the skills that will allow me to pursue this type of work in the future.
I worked for federal judges throughout three semesters, both at the district court and the court of appeals. These positions gave me the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see how judges and their staff approach cases and legal questions. As a judicial intern, I had to research and write on new topics regularly which helped me develop better legal research, writing, and organizational skills. I also had the opportunity to see what effective written and oral advocacy looks like at different stages of litigation. Additionally, these positions helped me identify types of work and areas of the law that I really enjoy (as well as those I enjoy less – equally valuable!).
Participation and Leadership
While at Temple, I was on the Temple Law Review as a Staff Editor and then as the Articles/Symposium Editor. These positions allowed me to work with other students to critically evaluate legal scholarship in the hopes of elevating new and important ideas and voices within the legal community. I also served as a co-president for the National Lawyers Guild. In this role, I hoped to facilitate opportunities for students to engage with community partners, through experiences like expungement and pardons clinics, which were an important part of finding some degree of balance during my own law school experience. As a Law and Public Policy scholar, I was able to pursue my own policy interests and propose policy changes in various settings. In all these capacities, I had the opportunity to connect with and learn from other Temple Law students as we engaged around areas of common interests and shared goals. These extracurricular opportunities helped me stay connected to the issues that motivate many of us to attend law school, while building a community of incredibly supportive and passionate individuals.
Advice from a Law School Grad
Law school can be tough, but those tropes about arrogant professors and ruthlessly competitive law students just don’t apply to Temple. Temple professors care deeply about their students and students want each other to succeed. Talk to your classmates, try out study groups, share outlines – nobody knows what they are doing at first and the camaraderie will keep you going. If you have a question that you think is dumb, ask it anyway. At least it means you are trying to understand the material! Law school requires a different type of studying from what most of us did in undergrad, and it will take some time to figure out how you learn best in this new context. When things inevitably start to feel overwhelming, get up and go for a walk, do some yoga, take a nap, or get a drink with a friend (or whatever your thing is) and try to remember that law school is temporary. It is just one step towards achieving your goals. Do your best to stay connected to your passions and know that everyone is rooting for you!
Balancing Law School with Life
Try to maintain a normal schedule which includes regular meals, sleep, exercise, and down time. It won’t ever be perfect, but the more you can build a routine around taking care of yourself mentally and physically the better you’ll be able to tackle each challenge law school throws at you. Law school is a marathon, not a sprint. For me, figuring out when I was most productive, setting aside that time for schoolwork, and stepping away from schoolwork at other times helped prevent burnout. Staying connected with people who aren’t in law school is also a good reminder that life still exists outside of readings and exams. Remember that none of us work or study the same way, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if your schedule or work habits don’t match those of your classmates.