“God wants everyone to know His Law.” These were the closing lines of my preschool graduation prayer to an audience of over 500 people. This prayer made my mother realize I was going to be a spokesperson. Today, I am on the career path of an attorney. I interviewed five attorneys to find ways to prepare for law school and my first job interview.
I asked the attorneys which graduate and undergraduate classes benefitted them. “Law school is about thinking creatively and independently.” Classes that make you a “careful researcher, careful reader and a good writer” will prepare you for law school.1 Bishop pointed out that “tests are on finding fact patterns and issue spotting.” Judge Advocate Captain Paul Judge works at Fort Jackson in legal assistance, administrative law and will be transferring to victims counsel this summer. He encourages students to “think about if [they] actually want to be a lawyer” and spend years and thousands of dollars on a law education. “All day I write and refine other people’s writing. Writing is more important than speaking and thinking.”4 Writing and critical thinking classes were mentioned in several of the interviews.
Judge recommends taking Federal Jurisdiction and Procedure, and Administrative Law. These are classes he uses most often in his day to day work. Congressman Timmons also recommends taking classes related to procedure. Jonathan Clark works for The Ward Law Firm, practising construction litigation and defense civil law for insurance companies. He suggests taking Secured Transactions in law school. “It teaches you the law of taking a loan with collateral. Something you have to study to take the bar exam which is hard to teach yourself.”5 Bishop recommends taking Tort Law classes to educate oneself on the legality of damages.2 McCraw found the Research Methodology class useful 1. Several of these classes work on building skills many lawyers use daily.
While completing undergraduate studies, a great way to get a head start on building a profile is interning at an attorney’s or politician’s office. Interning can help a student decide if the atmosphere is suitable for them and interning for “higher elected officials can give a person an in. [Especially] if the official knows the person you apply to work for.”3 A few attorneys mentioned work in a side law field can give an individual a rounded view. McCraw commented, “Hiring decisions are based on dedication; keep it relevant to the field of law you want to do.”1 Clark worked in construction prior to practising construction litigation. He says side experience can be “helpful depending on what type of law you do.”5 While some lawyers thought side experience was helpful, one attorney said experience is not important.
Judge says, “You’re not hiring an ex-police officer, you’re hiring a lawyer.”4 Judge went on to explain the key signs of a good lawyer in the interview. “It’s gut instinct. I look at the general impression. If the individual is confident, has good judgment, seems mature and can communicate well,” the person will be a good attorney.4
When a student has some law education, more opportunities are available. “I clerked for the Department of Transportation. I was the company liaison to the United States Department of Agriculture. This experience broadened my understanding of eminent domain and property law.”2 While the impact value of experience on one’s law career can be debatable, it is educational.
These attorneys transformed me from being clueless to having a researched undergraduate view of the law profession. I learned how to prepare for law school and build the skills needed. The warnings of the hard work ahead will not deter me. The challenge is what made me want to become an attorney in the first place.
1 McCraw, Melia. "Five Views of the Law Profession." Telephone interview by author. February 16, 2019.
2 Bishop, Whitner. "Five Views of the Law Profession." Telephone interview by author. February 18, 2019.
3 Timmons, William. "Five Views of the Law Profession." Telephone interview by author. March 1, 2019.
4 Judge, Paul. "Five Views of the Law Profession." Telephone interview by author. February 11, 2019.
5 Jonathan, T. Clark. "Five Views of the Law Profession." Telephone interview by author. February 11, 2019.
Personal images were provided by interviewees to the author.
Verity Koppe is a university student interested in law school.