Approximately 100 MHS students who expressed interest in legal careers got a lesson in perseverence and resourcefulness when three attorneys from around the state of Indiana shared with them their own professional and personal journeys to becoming lawyers.
Paul Sweeney, attorney with Ice Miller Legal Counsel in Indianapolis; Kendra Key, attorney with South Bend Schools; and Holly Wojcik, attorney with Theodoros & Rooth, P. C., in Merrillville; connected with students studying criminal justice and participating in clubs like debate and mock trial.
All three attorneys of different ages and different stages in their careers helped the group understand that nothing is easy and every path is different.
“‘I can't’ needs to go away,” said Mr. Sweeney.
Overall, they discussed goals, perceptions of accomplishment, money, debt, schools, majors, tests, setbacks and opportunities with the promise to return at a later date with two more guest speakers: a trial judge and a Marion County prosecutor, both originally from Northwest Indiana.
Mr. Sweeney said he had to change his preferred college and law school destinations to attend other schools due to limited financial resources, which were disappointments to him at the time. Along the way, he reconnected with his faith, met his wife and ultimately landed his current job, turning what seemed like negatives into positive, life-changing events. He said never looked back.
Ms. Wojcik said when she graduated from law school, she had no idea what to do next. When she had dinner with the bosses of her current law firm, she realized where she wanted to be.
"Find a place that you really love," she said. "What I love about my job is people that I work for."
Ms. Key said she alway knew she wanted to go to law school, but didn't know how she was going to get there. Her family didn't believe in debt, so it was scholarships she was interested in.
She finished her undergrad degrees without debt, but she said law school was a different challenge.
"You don't know what you don't know," she said.
After receiving some help to pass the LSAT and getting into the university of her choice, she discovered ICLEO, a state program that helps minority, low-income and educationally disadvantaged scholars pursue a law degree in Indiana.
"Know that you can, and give yourself permission to do it and be yourself," said Ms. Key. "Other people will see you and give themselves permission as well."