Tuesday night, Career Services hosted “What Kind of Law Will You Practice?” a panel featuring seven Princeton alumni with legal degrees. Around thirty undergraduates attended, and the alumni shared their experiences in law school and beyond.
The majority of the event was given over to the alumni to describe their career trajectories and offer advice. Among the panel, there were several unconventional paths to law school, including Chris Colvin ’88, who was an MAE major at Princeton and Jason Eaddy ’98, who worked in computer science before obtaining a law degree through night school. “It took my parents a good five, six years to understand what I do for a living,” Eaddy said, who now consults with lawyers on technology-related cases.
The panel also included two alumni who work in criminal law. Facing a question from the audience about the possibility of becoming jaded as a public defender, Arthur Hopkirk ’81 and Isabel McGinty *82 offered words of encouragement. Both agreed that working as a public defender was a very tough field. “There’s no let-up…in criminal law, it is people’s lives,” McGinty said. Hopkirk said it can be difficult to find fulfillment in public defense if you want to win cases, since even the best lose 80 – 90% of their cases. Instead, “you have to really take internal satisfaction,” Hopkirk said.
Two panelists who talked about the reality of debt incurred over law school were Christina Keddie ’03 and Ani Mason ’00. Keddie was drawn to law school as “the extended Robbie George experience.” She now works as a labor and employment lawyer, saying that nonprofit work may not pay enough to effectively manage the debt. In contrast, Mason was able to obtain scholarships because she was interested in human rights.
Mason also said networking through the Alumni Careers Network was instrumental in building her career. At any point in her career, she was trying to develop relationships with people in the field. Colvin, who founded two networking companies, supported this view. “Network now, and network for your entire careers,” Colvin said.
Though the panel distributed a lot of information on the difficulties of law school and a legal career, Zachary Goldstein ’05 was optimistic for the attendees’ future: “You go to Princeton. It’s up to you.”
For those looking for more information about law school, Lyon Zabsky is Career Services’ pre-law advisor. She was present at the event and can answer more detailed questions about law school applications.