Dede Potts, Law Student

1. What interested you about going to law school?

My grandfather was a very passionate lawyer who cared deeply about the profession. As a result, I always toyed with the idea of going to law school. As an economics major at the University of Virginia, I took a course called Law and Economics that the professor designed to resemble a law school course. In a nutshell: we read cases rather than material from a textbook. I loved the process of digesting a case and then discussing it with classmates. I wanted more! Upon graduation from UVA I went straight to George Mason University School of Law, where Law and Economics is an integral part of the curriculum.

2. Has your experience in law school been what you expected it to be? If not, what has been different than what you expected?

Law school has brought a few surprises. I am consistently surprised (and pleased) with the number of exciting extracurricular activities available to a law student. I imagined that I would be chained to a library desk! Instead, there are so many great clubs and events that allow a student to develop practical skills and network with local practitioners. I did take the opportunity before school started to talk with my 2L mentor about what to expect from a law school exam. Her advice was very honest and very helpful throughout that first semester, when the “unknown” (an exam worth 100 percent of your grade) can be very daunting.

3. What has been the most challenging thing for you about your law school experience?

Law school is a juggling act. On a given day, you might need to: finish two reading assignments, write a first draft of a memorandum, attend class, meet with the Moot Court Board, and still make it home in time to watch the new Modern Family. In order to make it all work, I have to map out a detailed plan for my day before the day ever starts. This was not a skill that I mastered in college. And it’s a skill that does not come totally naturally to me. I have to work at it. The upside of becoming more organized and time-conscious is that it reduces a lot of stress and makes everything feel more manageable. Sometimes just writing a to-do list down can feel good! And less stress makes moments of relaxation feel that much sweeter.

4. What is your best advice to a young woman considering law school?

I would advise a young woman to consider carefully whether a J.D. will add to her sense of joy and fulfillment. The financial burden of going to law school is a very heavy one. I have seen several former classmates decide that the benefits do not outweigh the costs. However, studying law can be very fulfilling and exciting. A prospective law student should absolutely take the opportunity to sit in on a law class to get a sense of the material that makes up a law school curriculum. She might also consider taking a couple of years after college to work as a legal assistant at a law firm or corporation. This will give her a sense of the profession while also helping to bolster her application.

5. What have you enjoyed the most about your experience in law school?

One of the best experiences I have had in law school has been the opportunity to intern with a small firm in the Washington, D.C. area. It is so rewarding to apply the skills and knowledge I learn in a classroom to real clients and real-life situations. I have become a better writer and a better communicator because of the internship. It is also very instructive to observe practiced attorneys who have years of experience in litigation. Plus, watching a case progress from start to finish can be very exciting.

6. How do you expect to use your law school education after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to work as an associate at a law firm specializing in business tort litigation or real estate law. I would love to become intimately familiar with the litigation process and to become comfortable speaking in court. Later in my career, I might consider the transition from law firm attorney to in-house counsel at a corporation.

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