Teresa Thong is a member of Cohort 6. She graduates from CCNY this June. Teresa will be attending UCLA School of Law this fall.
How did you first become interested in a legal career? Tell me about the path you followed.
As a freshman I participated in CCNY’s mock trial team. At the time, I was not sure what career path to follow. In mock trial I met a student from cohort 3 who was very enthusiastic about the Skadden Program. I continued meeting other Skadden students and was impressed by how friendly and excited they were to be a part of Skadden. I spoke to Jen, the program’s deputy director, learned more about the program and started to see how a legal career might be right for me. I was attracted to the special law related seminars, the LSAT prep and the writing instruction.
While in high school I researched the scholarship programs available at CCNY and other colleges. Although CCNY was not my first choice (at the time I really wanted to attend school away from home), I was admitted to the Macaulay Honors College and decided to attend. Macaulay offers its students a full scholarship, study abroad funding and other benefits that I could not pass up, particularly, because I knew I wanted to go on to graduate school. I was admitted to my top choice for undergrad, UCLA, and now I am heading there for law school.
How has the program helped you prepare for law school and for a legal career?
Studying for the LSAT was challenging and sometimes discouraging. You work so hard to improve your score on the LSAT, but progress can be slow. Staying focused and determined to do well on the LSAT despite not seeing quick improvement certainly paid off.
Initially, Professor Dodd’s class was a bit intimidating because she treated it like a real law school class – students were cold called and expected to answer increasingly complex questions. We learned how to conduct legal research, case reviews and outlining as well as tackle the traditional law school exam. I am grateful she did this because now I know what to expect in law school. Having the chance to work with Matt on developing my writing skills was great.
What other skills did the Skadden Program help you develop?
For the last two years, I have focused on the program and did not engage in as many extracurricular activities. In limiting my commitments I was able to do well academically and meet the program’s requirements. Skadden has been the highlight of my time at CCNY.
My internship in Skadden’s litigation department helped me realize that I would prefer to do transactional work. I learned about the firm’s different practice areas and M&A seemed most interesting to me. I got a good sense of the law firm culture and what is expected from young lawyers. I was grateful to have mentors at Skadden. Initially, I was so nervous and scared about meeting them because up to that point I had very few interactions with professionals of that caliber. The mentoring opportunities helped me become accustomed to working with lawyers and more comfortable networking with other professionals.
What is your advice for current and future Skadden students?
I recommend Skadden students form strong relationships with peers in their cohort. Every day I look forward to coming to the Skadden lounge at CCNY because I know there will be a friend I can work with or just talk to. The students in my cohort are like a second family to me.
The second recommendation is that students listen to the program staff’s suggestions and instructions. Do your work and don’t procrastinate. That’s what I did and never felt overwhelmed.