Life after Covenant can either be exciting or foreboding, but hearing from people who are already there always helps in lighting the path that is to come. During the Law Career Panel, organized by the Center for Calling & Career, students listened to three Covenant alumni who have pursued work in the field of law since graduating.
Dr. Richard R. Follet introduced the meeting by stating that “Covenant has a list of 60 graduates that have gone into some kind of law after graduating from Covenant.” Three of theses graduates spoke during the panel: Josh Reif, John Huisman, and Pete Johnson shared stories about when they were at Covenant, what they studied, and where they went to law school. Interestingly, only Reif had intended to pursue law from the beginning of his time at Covenant.
Reif graduated from Covenant in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in History. From there, he went to Law School at Samford University, Birmingham. Johnson attended Covenant from 1996 to 2000, then went to Mercer Law School and graduated in 2003. He majored in History and minored in Sociology.
Finally, Huisman went to Covenant from 1994 to 1998, but did not go straight to law school nor anything related to law at first. He had a double major in English and History, but worked as a painter before receiving a job at a social security office. After a short time there, he began looking at law schools and took the LSAT. He was accepted into the Law School of Tennessee with some scholarships and graduated in 2004.
Even though the alumni studied different things, each was able to use his major(s) to get into Law School. They used the knowledge they gained at Covenant along with additional studying in order to pass the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, and then worked diligently during their years in law school.
Though they disagreed on the emphasis of the best way to study for the LSAT, Reif put it best when he said, “It is very expensive to take the LSAT, so why not be diligent in your studying; whether you take a course, or study on your own, be intentional. If this is what you want to do with the rest of your life, work hard to get it.”
The alumni also highly encouraged taking writing courses while at Covenant. Most of them agreed that during law school and during their times at work, writing was essential in many ways. In one case, most of the courses that John had taken had one paper that counted as the passing or failing grade. In another case, papers had to be written almost every day because the job required it.
The alumni addressed the multiple careers in law that one could pursue, noting the difference between litigation practice, which usually involves resolving issues in court, and transactional practice, which encompassed mainly everything else.
However, it was Pete Hill, a Covenant College alumni who happened to be in the meeting, that made the most interesting remark. “I used to be in JAG (Military Defense Attorney), but when I retired, I chose to become a mediator, and I love it. It requires a very particular personality, but I love it.”
As with all graduate education, the student needs to be able to identify the best suited graduate school for him or herself. The alumni stated that the reputation of the graduate school and the amount of financial aid that the school provides were key in finding the suitable law school.
All the alumni agreed that entering, and especially leaving, graduate school with loans was a terrible idea that should be avoided in any way possible. Leda Goodman, the office coordinator for the Center for Calling & Career, stated that they also aid students in finding the best-suited graduate school as the time for the application process approaches.
All the alumni agreed that talking with people who have graduated from Covenant and gone on to do their own unique things may influence and guide current students in finding their callings. When asked about what Covenant could do better to prepare its students for the future, Huisman answered, “Well, I think it’s things like these, where you get to meet people who have already done it.”