By Kim Bolduc
Last Wednesday, Oct. 15, Brian Starlett ’11 was invited by the Pre-Law Society to give insight into his career after Union as an attorney. Starlett is currently a third-year graduate student at Albany Law School.
The Pre-Law Society at Union hosts a variety of activities that are planned for students interested in pursuing careers in the legal profession.
To open the discussion, Starlett gave a brief overview of his experiences at Union and his reasons for attending law school.
Starlett intimately observed the lifestyle of a lawyer when he was young, because his father was a lawyer.
He noticed that his father came home late on weeknights and rarely had time off on the weekends. These observations quickly deterred him from pursuing a career as a lawyer.
However, a particular high-school experience spurred him to reconsider his career choice. Starlett was able to listen in to some of his father’s conference calls for a National Ski Patrol case.
The case intrigued him because he viewed it as a type of puzzle, and he began to see that there was more to being a lawyer than working long hours.
In his first year of college, Starlett was only loosely considering law school.
After deciding that economics was not for him, he began taking more political-science classes.
After taking the LSATs his senior year, Starlett decided to enroll in Albany Law School. He also applied to several other law schools, but decided on Albany Law School because of it is located in a state capital and he is interested in politics.
Starlett described his first year at law school as “shocking.”
While the second semester was better than the first, Starlett still struggled with the introduction of the Socratic Method, a teaching method that randomly calls upon students to answer questions.
He was able to secure an internship with the Republican National Committee after earning his MBA in public health policy. This eventually led to a paid position on Congressman Gibson’s staff.
Starlett shared some advice for students considering a career in law.
First, he advises students to obtain internships.
Starlett was the chair of Green House, a member on the swimming and diving team and a participant in the China mini-term during his time at Union. He worked for his father and in Washington, D.C., as an undergraduate. However, in retrospect, he wished that he could have gained more internship experiences.
He noted that making connections and building a strong résumé is key to attaining a successful career.
He explained that internships also allow students to gain a deeper insight into their interests. In terms of the field of law, Starlett said that there are dozens of career avenues for individuals with a law degree.
Besides the typical courtroom lawyer, employers give higher consideration to real estate agents, lobbyists, legal consultants and even sports agents that have a law degree. An increasing number of congressmen on Capitol Hill have law degrees, as well.
Starlett also addressed a major concern for many students considering applying to law school: the LSAT.
He suggested that students should take the LSAT early, even as early as the beginning of their third year. This allows students to have an entire summer to devote to studying for the LSAT. Starlett recommended caution to students who plan to retake the LSAT.
He further explained that some schools accept a student’s first score, some schools average a student’s scores and some schools may take a student’s best score.
In particular, an individual with a score of above 150 is generally accepted into law school.
In preparation for the LSAT, Starlett recommended taking advantage of the opportunities that Union has to offer. Union has a strong alumni network and extensive LSAT preparatory classes.
He advised students to take a few classes in political science with Professor Hays, especially “Constitutional Law.” He recommended that students take some logic classes because the LSAT tests on logic.
For students who remain uncertain about pursuing law school, Starlett stressed, “Do not go to law school unless you know that is what you really want to do.”
While there are various fields within a law degree, Starlett made a point that law school is a struggle. Starlett admitted that the challenges have persisted even after his first year at law school.
Starlett shared that most law schools do not allow students to work outside classes during first year because the schools want students to focus on their academics.
Starlett talked about his struggle between balancing classes and looking for work experience after completing his first year of law school.
He was able to take night and summer classes in order to gain greater work experience during his second and third years at law school.
Even with the stress and heavy workload, Starlett acknowledged that law school is worth it.
He said his learning extended beyond law, as he was able to learn “how to think.”
Starlett heartily embraced the fact that thinking critically and forming plausible and powerful arguments is one of the major benefits of law school.
Before departing for the evening, Brian left the audience with one last thought: “Having a law degree has opened doors to knowing that I’m going to have an interesting life.”