Class of 2004
Director of Environmental Sustainability
Hormel Foods Corporation
What did you do before law school, and what led you to pursue a law degree?
Prior to law school, I worked as an environmental engineer with a primary emphasis in regulatory compliance. Early in my career I focused on air, hazardous waste and wastewater programs. I eventually expanded my area of coverage to include a full spectrum of environmental programs, such as sustainability, due diligence and remediation.
From early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with the corporate legal department. From that interaction I gained an appreciation for the intellectual challenges of legal analysis. I also gained insight on the positive impact that a legal education could have on my existing career while simultaneously providing other career options. While I wanted to pursue a legal degree, I was not willing to leave my developing career. When the opportunity to accomplish both goals became available through the Part-Time Program, the pursuit of a law degree was an easy decision to make.
How did Seattle University School of Law benefit you? What law school experiences helped you in establishing your career?
The practical skills I developed during my time in the SU law program provided immediate benefits to my career. Skills related to research, critical reading, communication and problem solving directly applied to the scope of my responsibilities. The law school experience also enhanced other critical skills, such as task management and prioritization.
Without question, the law school experience has helped build my career. The process of getting a law degree sharpened necessary skills, and the degree itself helped open doors that may not have otherwise been available to me. Obtaining a law degree has enabled me to expand my responsibilities beyond what I could have previously imagined, leading to personal growth and a higher degree of career satisfaction.
Was there a defining moment or experience that confirmed your decision to become a lawyer or to pursue a particular field of legal work? If so, please describe.
One defining moment was early in my career when I was working on a compliance issue with my corporate legal department. I saw the challenge of the legal role and was intrigued by the unique skill set demonstrated by the legal staff. This experience helped me realize that I enjoy legal analysis and that developing the skill set required for legal work would enhance my career.
What advice would you give to prospective or current students?
Law school requires a tremendous amount of resources, both in terms of financial and time requirements. Given the resource demands, prospective students should be ready to give their full effort – get involved and be engaged in the process from day one. Prospective and current students should think with the “end in mind.” Have a plan of attack for law school and beyond; develop a vision of where you want to be and regularly take the time to refresh and, if necessary, revise that vision. Most of all, have fun in the process.