Holly Idelson '99

Senior Counsel, US Senate Committee on Homeland Security/Government Affairs

Where did you work/do prior to entering law school?

I worked as a journalist for nine years, first at a small daily newspaper and then at a weekly magazine covering Congress.

Why did you decide to go to law school after being away from school for so many years?

After many years covering politics, I wanted to get involved as a participant and believed a legal education would provide the skills to do that. I also was interested in learning legal reasoning. I covered some cases before the Supreme Court and enjoyed reading the briefs and following oral arguments.

What skills that you developed throughout your pre-law career do you think were helpful and most transferrable to your summer law jobs?

Good writing and analytical skills, as well as an ability to adapt to a professional environment.

How did you handle discussing your pre-law school career experience during a summer job interview?  If you had a real change in direction, how did you handle it?

I felt there was a natural transition from my journalism career to my legal career, and I explained the trajectory and treated my prior experience as an asset I could bring to a new workplace.

Did you find public interest employers were concerned about or liked your non-linear career path?

I think it was viewed as an asset, particularly in Washington and during the clerkship application process.

Did you include or exclude anything on your resume or elaborate on areas of past work experience so potential employers would pay attention about your past experience or avoid questions regarding it?

I did not exclude any prior experience, and I tried to highlight the aspects that were complimentary to legal work.

What suggestions do you have for other non-traditional students that might help them throughout the course of their time at HLS?

I think prior work experience can be a big help in setting you apart from the multitudes of new law school graduates, but it helps to have a good narrative about how your interests have evolved and how your prior skills might help in a legal environment.

Do you have any suggestions on how they might get involved at HLS? Were there any resources that are/were particularly helpful for you during your time at HLS?

OPIA was a fantastic resource. I also regret not taking more advantage of clinical opportunities and internship and think those would be particularly valuable for students interested in litigation.

HLS Spotlight: Alumni

I think prior work experience can be a big help in setting you apart from the multitudes of new law school graduates, but it helps to have a good narrative about how your interests have evolved and how your prior skills might help in a legal environment.

Holly Idelson '99

Last modified: May 11, 2012

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