Register now: Conn launches pre-college summer programs for high school students
The next talk is Nov. 14, on careers in education.
Karin Kunstler Goldman '65 was a child of the '60s and wanted to help the less fortunate.
Michael C. Dell'Angelo '94 was fascinated by the complexity of corporate finance.
Lawrence M. Friedman '89 had an interest in land use and government regulation -- and was ready for a challenge.
Lynda Batter Munro '76 wanted to change the world.
Each came to law school from a different perspective. And each is now practicing in a different way.
Together they gave students a wide perspective -- and lots of advice -- on pursuing a legal career. All four spoke Sept. 26 as part of a "Sundays With Alumni" series that brings graduates from different fields back to campus to talk about their careers.
The series, sponsored by the Office of College Advancement, helps students network and get career advice from Connecticut College alumni. Also in the 2010-11 series are careers in: education (Nov. 14), research (Feb. 13), politics (March 6) and languages (April 3).
Alumni had this advice on law:
* Follow your passion, suggested Dell'Angelo, an antitrust attorney with Berger & Montague in Philadelphia. The law intersects with just about every field and interest. With some research you can find out if it might fit well with yours.
* Take undergraduate courses that help you look at things in a new way, compare them and draw conclusions. Friedman, a professor at New England Law in Boston, wishes he had taken more art history classes.
* Take a few years off between college and law school. The structure and demands of your work life will help you prepare.
"It gives you time to think about what you really want to do," said Kunstler, a section chief with the New York attorney general's office. "There's no real rush. There's a lifetime ahead of you."
* Consider working as a paralegal to see what lawyers do.
* The first year of law school will be difficult and tedious. Be ready to work hard. Focus on what you need to do and you'll rise above it. You're being taught things for a reason. Adapt to the system. Don't try to change it.
* Use your Connecticut College connections to find out what it's like to be a lawyer, find an internship and get job leads.
* After you have your law degree, be flexible and don't think that you're going to get your dream job right away. Look for a way to get your foot in the door and get some experience. You might try to leverage your undergraduate expertise in a field like economics, Dell'Angelo said.
* When you get established and start working, don't lose sight of your dream. Remember what you're passionate about.
"It sometimes takes a long time to do the thing you thought you wanted to do," said Munro, chief administrative judge for family matters for the Connecticut Superior Court. She has continued to look for ways to pursue public interest law. As a judge, she's found a measure of satisfaction.
"The competition isn't to win the argument," she said. "It's to get it right." And that, she said, is rewarding.