To: Chris Tusa
From: Marvin Gaye
Subject: Interview Report
Date: March 7, 2001

I interviewed Judge Dee Simon of the Lafayette court system and Mr. Larry Simon of Liskow and Lewis, an established law firm also located in Lafayette.  Judge Dee Simon currently holds a B.A. in English from Tulane and a J.D. from Louisiana State University.  She originally specialized in the area of maritime law and gradually became involved in family and criminal law currently working as a juvenile court judge.  Mr. Larry Simon works for one of the most solidly based and predominant law firms in Lafayette, Liskow and Lewis.  He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Tulane and also a J.D. from Louisiana State University.  His area of specialties is Oil and Gas Property Law as well as Litigation.

INTERVIEWEE #1 (Judge Simon)

Preparing for the Profession
Judge Dee Simon believes that the best way to get started in the law profession is to perform well in school.  She stated that to be recruited by the best firms, one needs a high G.P.A.  Being ranked in the top 10% of your class and making the Law Review, an honor given to those who are ranked in the top 10%, are two of the most important honors that will attract good firms.  Judge Simon also stated that she felt that in order to prepare for the writing and communication skills required for the law profession one needs to take a great deal of English classes.  In addition to the high G.P.A. and English classes one should also learn to consider “pro bono” work she stated.  Volunteer work is an important part of the law profession and taking on these cases is an important service to one’s community.  It also serves to further one’s career.

Realities of the Profession
The reality of success in the law profession, Judge Simon stated, is that one needs to love what one does in order to really succeed.  She stated that the law profession is a career that requires a great deal of time and concentration.  A typical day could be 10-12 hours and sometimes longer than that.  It is also not untypical to work on the weekends.  Judge Simon even went on to compare the law profession to “a jealous mistress.”  This is to say that the law profession is extremely time consuming and demands a great deal with little regard for one’s own feelings.  One important piece of advice she added was that one should find a spouse who really understands and accepts the dedication and time consumption that the law profession takes. 

Forms of Communication
As judge Simon said during the interview, the law profession is centered around communication and language.  It is a job that requires skills in all facets of communication including presentations, one-on-one communication, mediation, formal speaking, persuasive speaking, etc.  Lawyers spend most of their time reading and writing, so skills in spoken and written language are absolutely invaluable.  Judge Simon stated that the most successful lawyers are not always the brightest, but the one’s who are willing to put in the time and effort to read the materials and effectively prepare are the ones who most often succeed.

INTERVIEWEE #2 (Larry Simon)

Preparing for the Profession
Mr. Larry Simon, who works as an oil and gas lawyer, again stated that making good grades was essential in opening up opportunities for you early on.  Not only is it important to rank at the top of your class, but also it is also important to be involved in extracurricular activities.  He also suggested that I take some philosophy classes, especially those centered on Logic.  Philosophy, he stated, can allow you to better understand logical thinking and prepare you to identify the faults in another person’s argument.  In addition to this, when I asked him if finance was a sound undergraduate major, he added that it would help me to know different aspects of business.  He stated that quantifying the net gains and losses of a case is very important in the law profession.  As to preparing for the law profession, Mr. Simon, simply stated that study skills and time management are absolutely essential.

Realities of the Profession
Mr. Simon highly stressed the fact that being a lawyer is extremely time consuming.  He recalled times where he would come home from work to have dinner with his family and then leave to go back to the office to finish his work.  Workdays could last from 12 to 18 hours and the amount of reading and preparing is tremendous. He added that it was important that you love your job in order to deal with the grueling work hours.   In addition to the information he gave me on the work, he also added a little about the different areas of law including Criminal, Civil, and Administrative.  It seems that the more sought after jobs and high paying jobs lie in Civil law.  Most of the brightest young lawyers tend to gravitate to these jobs.  He also gave me some rough estimates of starting salaries from a number of different regions of the United States.  In particular, his firm now institutes a starting salary of about 70,000 dollars in order to compete with areas like New York City and Houston.

Forms of Communication
It was absolutely essential in Mr. Simon’s eyes that one understands language and posses good communication skills in order to succeed in the law field.  Not only does this encompass writing, reading, formal speeches, and presentations, but it also encompasses an understanding of human nature.  Mr. Simon suggested that the next time I was in a bar or around a group of people, I should step back and observe and try to understand why people do the things they do.  He felt that in order to understand and effectively mediate between people, as lawyers do, one needs to know how and why people act the way they do. 

While I did find both interviews very beneficial in that they both provided me with a realistic picture of a career in law and suggestions on how to further that career, Judge Simon’s suggestions to investigate growing fields like patent law were the most beneficial.  This insight will give me a great basis for entering the law field and exploring different areas of specialization that may interest me. 

All in all, these interviews were very informative.  I believe the information gained in them will help me to better make decisions towards my future.  They will also allow me to better prepare and work on skills needed to succeed in the field of law, including reading, writing, and communication skills.