Opportunities make a strong case for legal career
By Tristan Emery
Rebecca Figler is an example of how a strong life science background can catapult Purdue Agriculture graduates into careers one might not think of as traditional agricultural jobs.
Photo provided by Rush Fozo
Rebecca Figler works in her office at the law firm where she is employed. Figler credits her success as a lawyer to her Purdue Agriculture education.
Figler graduated from Purdue in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in natural resources and environmental sciences. Then Figler attended DePaul University College of Law and earned her doctorate in law. Currently, Figler is an associate attorney with a labor and employment law firm in Chicago.
"The College of Agriculture prepared me for law school because it provided me with an excellent education and forced me to open my mind to different ideas," said Figler. "Growing up in the Chicago metropolitan area, my only exposure to agriculture was what I read about in books or learned on a weekend trip to the country."
While a Purdue student, Figler learned what bushels per acre, soil analysis and a working farm were - things she may never have learned about if she had not come to Purdue. She also learned how various policies and government regulations affect agriculture and the environment.
Tips from a Professional
By Tristan Emery
Here are some timps from Purdue Agriculture graduate Rebecca Figler for those who want to become lawyers.
- Don't limit yourself to just one area of law or just to becoming the courtroom litigator you see on TV. "Follow your interests, because if you are interested in your job you will be a better advocate for your clients," Figler says.
- Focus on your writing skills and take advantage of writing classes to develop your persuasive and creative writing skills. "As a lawyer, not only do you need to persuade the judge to agree with your position, but you also need to creatively draw analogies from previous decisions to your case."
- Take classes that require you to develop analytical skills. "This not only includes enrolling in policy analysis classes but also philosophy and even math classes," Figler says.
- Involve yourself in extracurricular activities. "It is a great way to develop networking skills that are so important in creating and maintaining client relationships."
Find out more:
GOinAG Special Programs
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
Law School Admission Council
Figler spent a summer interning for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry. This internship helped her learn about the legislative process first hand and helped her select her career. "As an intern I was able to attend committee meetings, learn about new bills before the Senate, assist with responding to constituent mail and understand how attornyes on the committee interactive with the senator and helped to develop and create new agricultural and environmental policy," Figler said.
The internship also helped Figler in her constitutional law and policy courses in law school. Today, Figler handles employment-related cases, typically dealing with discriminiation and harassment claims, age discrimination claims, discrimination and harassment claims against muncipalities, wage and hour claims and contract- related issues.
"As an associate attorney, I am responsible for discussing and analyzing potential claims with clients, conducting legal research, preparing motions and suppoting briefs and presenting and arguing motions before the administrative agencies, and state and federal courts," Figler said.
On the Purdue GOinAG website, Figler credits her Purdue Agriculture education with giving her a broader perspective. "Exposure to something I was unaccustomed to, in the long run, has taught me to examine and evaluate issues from different angles and realize the impact agriculture has on everyone's lives."