WMU-Cooley student Eric Field always knew he wanted a career where he could help people, but he really didn't know what that meant until his family attorney encouraged him to job shadow him for a couple weeks to find out if being a lawyer inspired him. That did it. He knew the law was what he wanted to do.
"I fell in love with what he did," stated Field. "I liked that I would have clients coming in, and you could see they were scared, and didn’t know what was going on. I liked that I would be able to sit them down, look them straight in the eye and tell them that everything was going to be okay. I'm going to get you through this."
Finding and Fitting into Law School
Field spent time looking into the local law schools and making visits. But it was WMU-Cooley's "welcoming" and "homey" atmosphere that made the decision easy for him."I went to several different law schools I thought I might like to attend, but it was when I walked into WMU-Cooley's building in Auburn Hills that I really felt welcome," said Field. "It was nice. It was a genuine. I didn’t get that feeling at any other law schools."
His decision to attend WMU-Cooley was based on more than just a feeling though. The fact that WMU-Cooley offered flexible class schedules was very important for Field, who had a family, work and plenty of life obligations.
That being said, law school hasn't been easy for Field. He had to work harder than ever. Now that he is in his third year, he's enjoying his externship experiences and getting his chance to "get out and see what attorneys are doing, and how the law is actually practiced."
He also doesn't take for granted the other benefits he's received in his time at WMU-Cooley, like the accessibility of the faculty and there willingness to answer questions, and help you learn the skills to succeed, in law school and after.
Law School a Reflection of Law Practice
Learning the law is all encompassing and time consuming, but for Field that's the best preparation for life as a practicing attorney. He has embraced the hard work, and enjoys being involved in the law school's organizations and other extra-curricular activities, despite taking 15 credits this term.
"It’s a part of the whole experience," asserted Field. "From the very first day in student orientation, the law school talked the importance of networking, and how you can build that circle and those connections. That's how you build a practice, and how you build a career."
Field has been an active member of the Federalist Society, and has made it point to meet and greet with the many practicing attorneys who are involved in the society at the state and national level. That exposure has been "phenomenal for networking." He's found that everyone has been more than happy to "help you get on your feet.""It's nice to be able to rub elbows with Supreme Court justices and Michigan Supreme Court justices," exclaimed Field. "These individuals are pretty down to earth, but it's pretty cool stuff to be shaking hands and talking to them. That's why I feel it's important to be involved in the student organizations. The experience translates out to practice. There's a direct link between those student organizations and the practice groups in the local bar associations."
But it's Field externship at the Montcalm County Circuit Court in Mt. Clemens that has him excited about his prospects, and assisted him in figuring out his direction in his legal career.
"I’m working for a judge," started Field, "I get to see the good, the bad and the otherwise, every day on the record. You get to see practicing attorneys coming before the judge and arguing real cases and practicing law. What better way to learn then to actually see law being practiced? It’s great. The experience has really helped me refine what I want to do."
Keeping Things Real
For Field, he came to realize that he's not alone once he graduates. Working around the courts, or being involved in different organizations and associations has him bumping into many other WMU-Cooley graduates, all happy to talk to you and to help you in your legal career.
"What's cool is that when I talk to Cooley grads out practicing, I see attorneys that not only understand the practice of law, but have been able to hit the ground running," stated Field. "That tells me that our law school has provided them the skills and tools that they need to be a successful practicing attorney."
As much as Field career has taken a front seat over the past three years, he hasn't lost sight of the importance of family and being active and engaged in their lives.
"I like to spend time with my kids," smiled Field. "It's amazing how the littlest things are important, and how they want you included. So coming home, turning off the phone, and saying let's spend some time together, is the most rewarding thing I do. I enjoy just being around, like playing outside in the mud, and us getting scolded for being covered in mud. It's the family fun that keeps us laughing and centered."