Elizabeth Pearce is a third-year law student at Florida State University College of Law and a participant in the RumbergerKirk Summer Associate Program in Florida. Attorney at Law Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Pearce and talk about law school, her plans for the future and her experience in this program.
AALM: What first drew you to law?
EP: I saw my older cousin, Matthew, go through law school at the University of Florida. He and I have always had similar educational interests – we love history, reading, and writing. I felt that if he could succeed in law, I could too. He actually let me shadow him at his firm one summer and that’s when I knew for sure that I wanted to be a lawyer. He was an integral part of my application process and a steadfast mentor as I made my final decision to go to Florida State.
AALM: What type of law do you envision for yourself?
EP: While I’m still figuring out exactly what area of law I’m interested in, I have really enjoyed working with one of the partners in the Tallahassee office on education law issues. Education law is constantly evolving, so every project I do in that area is fast-paced and interesting. Moreover, education law is implicated by other types of law and many legislative decisions. I enjoy the complexities and difficult legal questions that seem to arise constantly in this practice area.
AALM: What expectations do you have for this summer program at RumbergerKirk?
EP: I expect to come away with in-depth knowledge of how litigation works, which is already proving to be true. The weekly seminar courses and workshops about the different steps of the litigation process have given me extensive, practical knowledge.
AALM: What drew you to this particular program?
EP: I knew going into my job hunt for the summer that I wanted to join a firm where I would gain actual experience. Moreover, I wanted to join a firm where I felt comfortable and welcome in the office environment. What is so great about RumbergerKirk is that they really invest in their summer associates. The firm spends time teaching us practical skills and allows us to use those skills in workshops. RumbergerKirk also focuses on mentorship. I am so thankful to have such an incredible associate mentor for the summer. She goes above and beyond to help me prepare for our mock depositions, hearings, and other activities, and is available to answer any question I have, no matter how silly it may be.
AALM: Ideally, where do you see yourself in five years?
EP: Frankly, I have no idea where I want to be in five or ten years. Life has a funny way of messing up my plans when I have them, so I just try to focus on working hard in the present. However, I do hope to be established in my legal career, likely working at a firm. I also hope that I’ll have a family of my own in ten years.
AALM: Do you have any “heroes” whom you’ve either tried to emulate or are inspired by?
EP: This is an easy question for me. My aunt has always been, and always will be, my hero. She has this innate ability to make anyone she talks to feel like the most important person in the room, no matter who they are or where they come from. She exudes kindness and carries herself with poise. She is the classiest woman I know! If I can be half the woman she is, I know I’ll have made it.
AALM: What has been the greatest challenge thus far in your pursuit of a law career?
EP: Something that is difficult about transitioning from law school to a legal career is that, while school prepares you for the research and writing side of the law, it doesn’t prepare you for the practical parts of being an attorney. Moreover, something I personally struggle with is confidence in myself and my work. Although I may feel like I’ve completed an assignment and done a good job, I’ll continue to work on it because I don’t feel it’s “good enough.” I’m hoping after this summer I can gain more confidence in my abilities, and I think working at RumbergerKirk is a place that can help me build that confidence.
AALM: Please tell us a little about your experience while interning at the RumbergerKirk.
EP: I think the best way to sum up my time at RumbergerKirk so far is that it feels like home. My experience has been nothing short of great so far. I’m extremely thankful for the group in the Tallahassee office. They made me feel immediately comfortable and are always willing to help me whenever I ask for it. I don’t feel like just a summer associate, I truly feel a part of the team.
AALM: How do you relax from your studies?
EP: For me, the way I relax is by spending time with other people. Something I have realized about the legal profession is that it can get lonely if you don’t make an effort to see friends and maintain relationships. I always try to have plans with friends after work so we can debrief our days and just catch up. It gives me something to look forward to and the end of the day and gets my mind off of work!