When I graduated from college all the way back in 1995, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Having always been a sucker for a lawyer show on TV, going to law school seemed like a good idea. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was going to graduate from law school still not really knowing what I wanted to do.
Fortunately for me, a kindly appellate judge decided to offer me a job as his clerk. At the time, it seemed like a good way to avoid making any decisions about my future for at least another year. But, it turned into a great opportunity to work with all different areas of the law and figure out what I was really good at. After a year of researching all sorts of legal issues and helping to draft appellate opinions, I realized that I had an interest in criminal law and was good at research and writing. I took that knowledge to the Criminal Division of the Attorney General’s Office where I was responsible for representing the state in appeals from felony convictions. I wrote well over 100 briefs and appeared for oral argument over 40 times, including once in the Missouri Supreme Court—pretty cool stuff for a young lawyer only a few years out of school.
Although I enjoyed working in the Criminal Division, I got to a point where I was ready to explore doing other kinds of legal work. I served briefly in the Litigation Division representing the state in civil cases of all kinds, then spent a short time in the legal counsel’s office of the Missouri Department of Corrections. Both positions gave me the opportunity to do things like take depositions, serve and respond to discovery requests, and appear at trials and hearings. They also verified for me that my strengths and interests still lied in doing research and writing on criminal related issues.
In 2005, I was again very fortunate to be offered the position as the first Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor for the State of Missouri. In this position, I am responsible for training law enforcement officers and prosecutors on issues related to traffic safety, with an emphasis on impaired driving. Much of my time is spent handling technical assistance requests for a prosecutor who has a new or novel issue pop up in a case. I also spend a great deal of time researching statutes and case law and preparing memorandums on emerging legal issues. Basically, I get to do all the stuff I really like with very little of the stuff I don’t.
The lesson I can offer is to not be afraid to try new things. Some people may look at my early job history and say that I moved around a lot—and I did. This gave me a chance to work with all different areas of the law and figure out what I really liked to do. I have been in my current position for almost eight years now and have enjoyed every minute. Figure out what you really like and everything else will fall into place.