Atticus Finch, Perry Mason and Daniel Kaffee may have inspired many a young man and woman to become a lawyer. But these local attorneys give us the verdict on what it was like to take the leap into the legal field and attend law school—minus the script.
Witzel, Kanzler, Dimmitt, Kenney & Kanzler
I wanted to attend law school based upon what I saw on television—primarily from Perry Mason and the movie The Paper Chase. Somebody at CBS owes me an apology because the practice of law is nothing like Perry Mason did it on the show. In 22 years, not a single courtroom confession. But law school at Saint Louis University had similarities to The Paper Chase. First-year classes were held in big classrooms with stadium seating looking down upon the professor. And my contracts professor, Vincent Immel, had all of the presence and gravitas of professor Kingsfield, played by John Houseman in the movie. Professor Immel’s reputation for grilling students on the fine points of contract law was larger than life. Yet, he was beloved by the students. Each day, it would be another student’s turn to ‘be up’ in class, and to be engaged by Immel in a didactic exercise for which the student was almost always at a disadvantage. The trepidation always was worse than the actual encounter, but the learning was undeniable. Professor Immel stands out for me as the embodiment of a SLU Law School experience—a first-class education taught by professors that often became my friends and role models as a practicing lawyer.
Growe Eisen Karlen
I attended Washington University School of Law and graduated in 2007. I absolutely loved my time in law school. The curriculum was challenging, the faculty was inspiring and the social life was plentiful. I studied extremely hard; yet, my greatest growth as a student was definitely obtained outside of the library. WU Law does an exceptional job of providing extracurricular opportunities for students that are geared toward practical legal experience, leadership and social development. I dabbled in several of these opportunities, and ultimately, by my third year, was spending quite a bit of ‘post-study’ time working on the editorial board of The Washington University Journal of Law & Policy. I would encourage any law student to take advantage of these opportunities, as it will make your experiences, both during and after law school, much more worthwhile. I graduated from law school prepared and confident, with lifelong friendships, a strong network of classmates in the local legal community, and with a job that I was extremely proud to have been offered.
Zerman & Mogerman
I attended Washington University School of Law in the early 1980s. It was a time when people opened real law books maintained on rows of shelves you had to walk over to; hired real typists to type notes and briefs, which were originally written in longhand; and made phone calls from dedicated spaces called ‘telephone booths.’ You can probably see these on the History Channel. I was lucky to have learned from some very gifted, capable and patient law professors, who succeeded in teaching me a great deal despite my best efforts to resist them. Many of these professors are still teaching today. It is nice to practice in the same city in which I went to law school because many of my professional colleagues in St. Louis learned from many of the same professors as I, and we share these common bonds and experiences. I learned discipline, diligence and intellectual honesty are critical attributes for any lawyer in any field, and I learned a lot about all three at Washington University Law School.
The Simon Law Firm
I drew professor Vince Immel for contracts. At Saint Louis University School of Law, Immel was a legend for his ‘shotgun’ approach to calling on students. The humiliation suffered by those who failed to do the reading, also legendary. Needless to say, I was rethinking the entire law school decision. When the time finally came, however, my guardian angel was on duty because I didn’t make a fool of myself! It also might have been attributable to the many hours of studying I had done. The lesson: Preparation is key. Many of us who survived Immel’s classes fancy ourselves as having earned a badge of honor. The real tribute, of course, goes to Immel for teaching young law students the value of work ethic, and perhaps, a little bit of fear and humility. As lawyers, we all hold our clients’ businesses, livelihood and well-being in our hands. Immel knew to be ready for that responsibility; we needed to learn early on the importance of being prepared. For that, I am grateful.