While some other children sat at home dreaming of becoming ballerinas or astronauts, Victoria Othon knew she wanted to be a lawyer since she was 7 years old. She received many Advanced Placement credits that transferred easily to The University of Alabama and immediately got on the track to looking at law schools.
“I got an email from the Honors College back in undergrad which had some classes available that you could take at the law school,” Othon said. “I ended up choosing Labor and Arbitration.”
Because of the strong reputation of The University of Alabama School of Law, Othon took the LSAT and then applied to her alma mater’s program. Instead of having a senior year consisting of an easier workload, graduation parties and more free time to decide post-grad plans, Othon immersed herself in law school.
“My first semester (of law school) was a whirlwind of a lot of things,” Othon said. “But it was amazing. Law school is tough, stressful and you have to sort of relearn how to learn but it’s worth it.”
Tyler Roberts, the current pre-law advisor for The University of Alabama and a fellow graduate of UA, is thrilled about his new position as the pre-law advisor and believes he can help students greatly with their pre-law endeavors.
“I wanted to help students first of all ask themselves: is law school the right path for me?” Roberts said. “Then provide resources and the support to help them be successful in their application process. That’s the biggest aspect of my job.”
Roberts considered going to law school after finishing his graduate degree but decided to focus on helping students pave their paths to law school instead.
Even though he did not take the law school route himself, he wanted to help students in anyway possible to reach for that goal.
Roberts said he wants nothing more than to see students become active and successful in their field of work, and the biggest way he can ensure that that happens is through the plentiful opportunities that the pre-law department holds for undergraduate students.
“The Pre Law Student Association holds meetings every other Tuesday night that give students information about law schools,” he said. “ For example, we’ve brought in the young attorneys panel for students to just ask questions about their paths that they are on.”
In addition to the PLSA, the pre-law department also has a law school fair and a pre-law week that take place in January. Around 60-70 law schools from around the country show up to the university to speak with students and give them a chance to make connections.
Abigail Thompson also wants to take the law school route, but her road to success looks a little different. Thompson is a fourth-year Honors College student at UA majoring in both economics and political science. She is also finishing up her graduate degree in applied economics that she did through University Scholars, a program that gives students the opportunity to start taking graduate school classes their senior year. Thompson will graduate in May, but she said she’s not diving into law school just yet.
Thompson also took the same law school class as Othon, Labor and Arbitration, but she also took an Honors class, Legal Writing, which was also a great opportunity to look into what law is like. As Thompson wraps up her last semester as an undergraduate, she reflected on the differences between taking undergraduate classes and graduate classes.
“I applied for the Fulbright Program to go to Russia for a year to establish my fluency,” Thompson said. “I feel that if I go to law school now, I might lose some of those three years that I finished here learning Russian.”
The Fulbright Program is a highly competitive program that gives grants to individuals for personal research and study in another country. If she is awarded the Fulbright, she will start law school in the fall of 2017.
Even with a huge passion for Russia, Thompson has always had law in the back of her mind.
“I entered as a pre-med biology major, and I ended up switching my classes before the first day of freshman year,” Thompson said. “In political science, everything that seems interesting to me has to do with power play on the international scope.”
Thompson believes that deciding to go to law school is a very individual path.
“A lot of people I have talked to all agree that we feel like we’re on a very individual path because there are so many different and competitive ways to get to law school,” Thompson said. “As an undergraduate I’ve had a really weird experience. For example, in my graduate classes some of the people in there are married, have kids on the way and are talking about buying houses. Then I go to an undergraduate class and half the kids are not there because they were at a party the night before.”