Obtaining an undergraduate degree in philosophy has proven inestimable for my career as a business lawyer—a career that depends heavily on clear thinking and superior writing skills. Working through dense treatises, essays and like writings by ancient Greeks and by nineteenth-century German and English thinkers built critical reading and writing skills in me as a young student that I did not fully appreciate until I enjoyed success at a top law school at the University of Texas. The interactive dialogue on these works between me and the Trinity University philosophy department (Luper, Brown, Kimmel and others) enabled me to organize my thoughts quickly and thoroughly and to express them with confidence and efficiency. More students should choose to pursue Philosophy and other liberal arts degrees, especially if they hope to enjoy a career that involves much writing and thinking on abstract concepts.
My study of philosophy at Trinity certainly prepared me well both for law school and for the practice of law. The type of logical and analytical thinking skills I was taught and honed while completing my philosophy major at Trinity prepared me for the Socratic Method utilized at law school. Additionally, as an attorney, it has provided me the well-rounded thinking and analysis skills crucial to preparing written and oral arguments in cases. I am easily able to find arguments and rationale supporting both the position I am advancing as well as the opposition's position and potential arguments. I began taking philosophy classes believing it would perhaps be a minor for me, but it ended up being my second major. I believe it ended up being more useful to me than my communications major. My philosophy professors at Trinity were, and continue to be, personally invested in my success.
Thanks for all that you do!
My dad told me whatever I do, "don't major in something in college you cannot use, like philosophy." What did I do? Yes, one of my majors was philosophy. I don't regret it one bit. I had fun and found it interesting. The philosophy thesis was challenging and a great experience to have done prior to law school. Not only did I get the best education on the history of ideas, I learned to reason and write well. These skills are invaluable to being a lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. It also provided a great repertoire of significant names to drop and quotes to weave in writing briefs and opinions.
Majoring in philosophy teaches students to read carefully; to think not just critically, but also creatively; and to hone in on questions about meaning, value, and truth that are important to "real life." My time studying philosophy at Trinity opened up doors for me that I never even imagined were there. I got my first job in the business world thanks to the thinking, speaking, writing skills that philosophy taught me. And I later entered graduate school in philosophy on a full fellowship thanks to having graduated from Trinity. Choosing to major in philosophy at Trinity turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made!
A degree in philosophy proved to have paramount significance in my performance on the LSAT, as well as in law school and my career. Philosophy is the quintessential discipline for honing essential lawyering skills like critical thinking, analytical reasoning and writing, and sophisticated comprehension of complex concepts.
As a trial attorney, my clients call upon me daily to articulate complex ideas coherently, succinctly and with persuasion. My philosophical training at Trinity was an essential step in developing that ability. Let's face it—if you can write and argue about Schopenhauer, then the Supreme Court is easy stuff!
As a resident physician, I can say that my background in philosophy helps me every day. I think that having studied philosophy makes me a more compassionate, insightful physician with a greater understanding of the human condition. I majored in both biology and philosophy because I wanted to appreciate, understand and study life from all perspectives, and I feel like a philosophy background gives me a unique perspective on life and our roles in it. In addition, in medicine, one of my roles is to advocate for my patients, and through philosophy I learned how to be logical, vocal, cogent, and a more powerful champion for those who need me. lastly, I have no doubt that philosophy helped me to score better on my MCATs (verbal was my highest score!), and no doubt write better personal statements for medical school, residency, fellowship, and the countless number of other things I am constantly writing in order to move forward with my career.
Studying philosophy, especially with professors like Luper and Brown, has deeply influenced both my professional and personal lives. It has enabled me to attain a joint JD/MBA, become an executive officer of several public companies and serve as a guest lecturer both at Berkeley and Duke. At its core, my education in philosophy has helped me develop a skeptical common sense that I am grateful for every day.