Eddy Leal, T ‘12 JD ‘15
As an attorney, the ability to comprehend and analyze complex information, and then convey my findings and conclusions clearly, is essential in my line of work. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to develop these skills early on as an undergraduate at Duke.
While pursuing my Political Science degree, many of the courses I took focused on the current state of affairs and their respective historical underpinnings. Yet, while many particular facts quickly faded in my memory after graduation, the critical thinking and writing skills I developed in those classes did not. I still vividly remember my first political theory assignment, in which Professor Spragens asked us to analyze and critique a theorist’s work without merely summarizing their point of view. After spending days staring at a white computer screen, I realized that to have enough material for a ten-page essay, I first needed to truly master the course material and all its intricacies. Then, I had to carefully deconstruct each of the theorist’s arguments in search for inconsistencies or false assumptions, which were not easy to find. Finally, all my notes had to be condensed into a coherent essay.
How does all of this matter for me in my work today? When faced with a question for which I don’t have an inkling of an answer (which happens often when you are a junior associate!), I know how to go about reasoning my way to an answer. And while much of the law school curriculum is designed to foster these skills, I discovered that many law students develop them by the time law school starts. Nowadays, as a transactional attorney, long gone are the days when I was able to dedicate more than a week to a research assignment. Because there are so many moving parts to a transaction, your client and your colleagues expect a quick turnaround. Thus, although the circumstances and the subject matter have changed, what I do today is fundamentally the same as what was asked of me as an undergraduate.
The time and care provided by the Political Science faculty during my years at Duke in helping me to acquire this strong analytical foundation was essential to surviving law school, and eventually succeeding in my career.