Graduate Student Spotlight: Taylor Stoneman, Cornell

Eller PDC Alumni Stories

Taylor StonemanTaylor Stoneman graduated from Eller in May 2013 with a major in Business Economics and minors in Government and Public Policy and Pre-Law. She is currently at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY pursuing a J.D. with a Specialization in International Legal Affairs.  Last summer, Taylor worked in Washington, D.C. as a legal intern in TSA’s Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement and has just recently accepted an offer to head back to D.C. next summer as a summer associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Why did you decide to pursue a law degree?

I went to law school primarily for the education.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do afterwards (for example, whether I wanted to work in big law or in the government), but I knew that I wanted to sharpen my critical thinking and analysis, reading, and writing skills.  Because I am interested in working in foreign policy at some point in the future, I contemplated getting a masters in international affairs or something similar.  I ended up deciding to go for the best of both worlds by targeting law schools that had strong international law programs.

What has been the most challenging part of your experience? The most rewarding?

I think the most challenging and rewarding parts of this experience stem from the same foundation: the law school environment in general and, specifically, the small and insulated Cornell community.  There are less than 200 students in each class at CLS.  Courses are graded on a strict curve based on one exam at the end of the semester and it’s very much a “figure things out along the way” experience.  As a 1L, it is very hard to not compare yourself to others and in the beginning I had a lot of difficulty with that.

On the other hand, the intensity of preparing for classes and exams helps build foundations for great friendships.  We all felt like we were going a little crazy at times and it’s nice to have a small community of people who are going through the same experience.  The small class size also gives us an overwhelming number of opportunities for interaction with professors.

What advice do you have for students looking to pursue a law degree?

My advice would be to ensure that law school is where you want to go and being a lawyer is what you want to do!  Succeeding in law school takes just as much work as people say it does and it’s an extremely competitive environment.  Be prepared to challenge yourself both academically and emotionally.