“From the time I was 12 I had some abstract idea of becoming a lawyer, but I wasn’t completely sure, so after I graduated college I took a job within my local court of common pleas. I worked there for several years and realized that many people who were forced to deal with the legal system didn’t really understand how the process worked and were intimidated by what they didn’t understand,” says Harrisburg campus student Julie Slabinski, adding, “I realized then that I definitely wanted to become a lawyer because I could use my education and experience to alleviate the fear of the unknown that clients often feel and offer them some reassurance that the legal system really is there to help.”
Julie initially came to Widener Law with the thought that she would pursue a career in family law, but her law school experience opened her up to a desire to become a prosecutor. In addition to substantive legal knowledge, Julie came to law school hoping to gain practical legal skills that could help her transition directly into a career.
“After college I realized that while I had earned a degree, I had virtually no idea how to apply those skills in a professional work environment. I wanted a law school that could give me both the degree and the practical experience that I would need after graduation,” she says.
Julie observes that her classroom experience has certainly provided her with the substantive knowledge she sought, but she is also quick to praise the opportunities that she has had to learn outside of the classroom, citing in particular her experiences with the Moot Court Honor Society
, the Widener Law Journal
, and the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program
. Writing a student comment for the Journal proved a particularly challenging – but also rewarding – experience.
“It took a lot of time in addition to class work, but after all of the research and help from the faculty, I was really proud of the final product,” Julie declares, adding that that while the law journal and moot court require a lot of work, “the accomplishment from each is unbelievable and I feel like I’m learning valuable skills that I couldn’t get from a lecture.”
“Widener has completely changed the way I think and analyze situations. Answers usually aren’t black and white anymore. I find that while I’m watching TV or talking with friends that I don’t jump to conclusions as quickly. Now I really consider what I’m hearing. I can also spot flaws in peoples arguments much more easily,” says Julie of the way that her law school experience has shaped her day-to-day outlook.
“I worked for several years after college before attending law school and while it was difficult and intimidating to transition back to being a full-time student, it was well worth it. I find that my prior experience and the confidence I gained from working are invaluable in law school. I have a completely different frame of reference than students coming directly from undergraduate and I find that extremely helpful,” she continues.
Advice to “stay in your own lane” that Associate Professor Tonya Evans
gave during her first-year property class has stuck with Julie during her time in law school, and she echoes that wisdom for the benefit of future law students, saying, “Law school is difficult and there can be a lot of distractions, so it’s best to do what works for you and not what works for other people. Nothing good comes from comparing yourself to what everyone else is doing.”