Vera Quagliato: When Things Get Tough Remind Yourself of Why You are in Law School.
Vera Quagliato is a current student at Fordham law school. She discusses how the Skadden program helped her prepare to take on law school, and the importance of being involved with activities outside of the classroom. This interview was conducted by phone and edited.
Tell me about your experience in the first semester of law school.
I’m currently taking contracts, criminal law, torts and legal writing and research.
I’m preparing for next year’s moot court by volunteering with the current moot court team. Since I’m still exploring my careers options, I think moot court will help me develop my litigation skills. And it seems to be really fun. During law school, it’s good to have an activity outside of the classroom.
How did you decide to pursue a legal education? Tell me about the path you followed.
I was finishing up my associates degree at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) as a criminal justice major. Although I was interested in the legal profession, I was intimidated by the prospect of law school. One day, I noticed a flyer with information on the Skadden Program and it was encouraging to see there was a program that would guide me through the law school application process as well as prepare me for law school.
At the time, I had a mentor who is a practicing attorney and teaches at BMCC. He taught me Economic Development of the Dominican Republic. He encouraged me to pursue the Skadden program and a legal career. Especially as an immigrant it was helpful to have my mentor’s guidance.
What are the most valuable skills you use regularly, and how did you develop those skills?
The Skadden seminars were invaluable in helping to develop my writing skills; teaching me how to organize my essays, how to think about legal problems, and how to be clear and concise. I’ve received good grades on my law school writing assignments because of the writing prep I received.
Looking back, what do you wish someone had told you when you started the Skadden program? And, what is your advice for current and future Skadden students?
Follow your professors’ advice. Everything you are learning in the Skadden Program will be worthwhile in law school.
Did you ever feel self-doubt or think you might not be able to succeed, and if so, how did you overcome these feelings?
I have self-doubt all the time. Never try to compare yourself to others, follow your own path. I’ve learned that frustration is part of the process; it is not just an obstacle. Be consistent and wise about your time. Procrastination is not possible in law school. Build the habit to be on time, it is less stressful that way.
What would you tell a young student who is passionate about an issue and wants to study law, but thinks law school is too expensive and time-consuming?
Yes, law school is expensive and time consuming, but I often think about who I am doing this for. It is not just for me. Perhaps you are doing this for your family, or others who might lack skills, education or opportunity. It helps to think about all the people you will be able to help with the law degree you’ve earned.