Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Law School Reject to Supreme Court Litigator

Today I helped coordinate an event for the 1Ls featuring Tom Goldstein, an alumnus from my law school who has gone on to open up his own Supreme Court practice and argue 20 cases in front of the Supreme Court. His story, going from being originally rejected by our law school to second-chairing Bush v. Gore was so inspiring and funny, any more description would not do it justice.

Instead, I'll just list a few of the points he made in his speech that I wrote down on the back of a paper I was editing. None of this was earth-shattering, but rather things that we all need to hear. I think it was especially needed because everyone at law school is still on edge about the job market and Tom addressed that head-on. Moreover, advice typically feels more meaningful from a person who has been in your shoes and is now very successful.
  • Do what you love.
  • Volunteer your time.
  • Value your relationships.
  • Find a niche that people want and that you are interested in, and stand your ground.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for fear people will say no.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to write your briefs; they will be much better if you walk away from them for a day.
  • Art of the possible. Recognize when you can sway the Scalias and the Breyers of the world, and when you cannot.
  • Argue the details and what people do not already know.
Even though we planned this event for 1Ls, I wish everyone could have heard it. As a graduating 3L, it was exactly what I needed, and I am sure I will need to keep hearing and reminding myself of this advice in the future.

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