Figuring out a major can be difficult enough for college students. Add law school to the mix and students can feel anxious about where to turn next, how to get into law school and the kinds of skills, temperament and education required to become a successful attorney.
To help sort through these and other questions, the University of South Florida is sponsoring two online workshops, including a panel discussion with legal experts and a Q&A with a Stetson University College of Law admissions official.
The sessions, hosted by the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, are open to both USF students and potential students.
The first session, the panel discussion, is set for Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 3 to 4 p.m. The second session, a talk featuring Stetson College of Law Admissions Director Darren Kettles, is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24, from 3 to 4 p.m.
Interested students can write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to the workshops or check the Handshake online platform.
“Our students are very eager to learn what it takes to become an attorney and to hear the personal insights of people working in the legal profession and their own journeys to become lawyers,” said Jay Riley, director of business outreach and community engagement at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.
Riley worked with USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Career Services advisor Toni Ripo and Marrie Neumer, senior director of development at the campus, to organize the sessions.
The panel discussion, titled Pathways to Careers in Law, will feature four local attorneys, including concierge attorney Anne Weintraub, civil litigator Jami Worley, retired lawyer and law professor Lew Solomon and Ed Brodsky, state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit.
“I think this panel discussion is the perfect format for any student interested in law school and a career in the legal profession,” said Brodsky, a USF alum and adjunct instructor at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “Understanding ahead of time what it takes to become a lawyer and the work that lawyers perform, day in and day out, is critical to making an informed decision.”
Moderator and USF criminology student Elizabeth Kemker will direct questions to the panelists, who were selected based on their experience and legal specialties. While Brodsky oversees criminal cases in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, Worley focuses on elder law and Weintraub is as a concierge attorney who caters to clients on their schedule. Solomon worked as a lawyer in New York City and a law professor for 35 years at Suffolk University (Boston), the University of Missouri-Kansas City and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“Many students think they’ll graduate from law school and work at a high-powered law firm right away or early on in their careers, but that’s usually not the case,” Solomon said. “Most attorneys work at small to medium-sized firms, or they end up in other professions where they can still use their skills and legal knowledge, like in real estate or finance.”
The best lawyers, he said, exhibit excellent communication and analytical skills and are good listeners.
Meanwhile, Weintraub and Worley said that misconceptions about the legal profession abound, including that attorneys are self-absorbed, preoccupied with money and unscrupulous, but the opposite is true, they say.
“When you become a lawyer you become an advocate for people who don’t have a voice,” Weintraub said. “Law school teaches you to be a zealous advocate. That’s where your focus should be. The decision to pursue a graduate-level degree is a serious endeavor that students should research and consider carefully.”
Worley, a USF alum with offices in Bradenton, urged students to ignore how lawyers are depicted on TV and to view the legal profession as “a privilege.”
“There’s no question that we have our well-known troublemakers that tend to give us all a black eye, but for every one of those attorneys there are 100 fantastic ones that practice diligently, counseling and advocating on behalf of their clients,” she said.
USF offers a unique program to help students interested in attending Stetson University College of Law. The Judy Genshaft Honors College has an agreement with the law school to offer an accelerated Bachelor’s/J.D. program. This program, known as the “Stetson 3+3 Program,” allows honors students to use their first-year law courses at Stetson to count as the fourth year of elective requirements for their Bachelor’s degree. Students will graduate from USF at the end of their fourth year and proceed into the second year of law school.
For more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit https://www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu.