As part of the Alumni Speaks Series with the English Department, 2018 graduate Amanda Brash spoke about her experience in law school at Duquesne with “Law School 101”.
Brash graduated with a degree in English literature and took a gap year before beginning law school at Duquesne.
Brash suggested that those who may not know what type of law they want to get into or if they want to go to law school at all, should reach out to attorneys to talk to them and possibly shadow them.
“It isn’t what it is in the movies,” Brash said.
During her shadowing experience, Brash knew a criminal defense attorney who took her to court one day to watch. Brash said that she did not have any interest in criminal law at that point, but realized it was what she wanted to pursue after leaving court.
“I looked at the defendant, and people are so accustomed to seeing them on the news,” Brash said. “I saw this guy and it made me realize the people who are accused or convicted for crimes aren’t bad people. I felt like I could be a good advocate for them.”
This summer, Brash interned for a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh, receiving the opportunity to work on homicide cases, go through the discovery, conduct legal research, draft motions and more.
Before entering law school, Brash expected the environment to be competitive, but was shocked at how close and supportive everyone was and became.
“My classmates and I aren’t trying to compete with each other, we are trying to help each other,” Brash said. “It’s a good environment.”
To those attending the event, Brash gave some advice for those interested in applying to law school. Brash’s biggest piece of advice was to not get discouraged.
“Everyone had this moment where they take their first LSAT practice test and they see their score and think ‘wow, I am the dumbest person ever. I will never get into law school,’ but don’t get discouraged,” Brash said.
The English Department helped Brash prepare for law school by teaching her how to be a clear writer and connect the dots for the reader, which she says is important for law school.
“As an English major, you are probably creative, and it is so important,” Brash said. “Being an English major will help you in law school, I think it is the best major to have.”
At Duquesne, Brash said she enjoys reading cases, specifically criminal law, but before the pandemic, enjoyed being in a study room to talk through things with her classmates with differences of opinion.
“For me, I try to be understanding when and think [about] what this person has gone through to have committed that crime, to be an advocate for them and give them the best deal that I can,” Brash said. “There are a lot of times in school where you read a case and you think ‘I don’t agree with the court, I don’t agree with the law’ and you have those discussions, but I haven’t had that experience in my real life.”
At the moment, Brash wants to start as a public defender for a few years and then possibly go into private practice.
“I may be naive, but I do believe that I can make a good impact,” Brash said.