Guest blogger Jacquelyn Duhon is a first year law student at LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Duhon graduated from LSU in the spring of 2013 with her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication with a focus in Public Relations. Duhon worked in both agency (McNeely, Pigott & Fox Public Relations and Peritus Public Relations) and in-house communications settings (2nd Vote) in Nashville, Tenn., for two years.
Two years after entering the work force as a public relations professional, I decided to shift my career focus and go to law school – not exactly a minor life decision, and one that I do not advise taking lightly.
I’ve found that my undergraduate education at LSU was invaluable in honing my skills in writing, reading and speaking. These skills were further developed by my post-graduate professional experiences; all of these abilities are vital to law school success. The ability to read and think critically comes in handy when wading through a massive amount of material every week. The ability to speak with clarity also has come in handy – professors can and will cold call on you in class, although it’s not as scary as it sounds.
Law and public relations also have more in common than one might think. Public relations is not a 9 to 5 job, and it takes a significant passion to not get burned out. Law school is cut out of the same cloth – it is both emotionally draining and time consuming. I personally am glad I took time to experience the “real world” workforce before going back to school. Law school involves a lot of sacrifice, be it sleep or a social life. There is something to be said for taking a breather after four years of study. There is a serious increase in commitment and workload in law school compared to undergraduate, and I’ve found my experience in demanding public relations jobs prepared me for this.
Lawyers and public relations professionals are also similar in that, in both jobs, we seek to advise and counsel clients on the implications of decisions and actions. While legal counsel obviously differs from public relations, they can go hand in hand. Public relations intersects with legal issues all the time, and critical thinking is the foundation of both areas.
A public relations background has been nothing but helpful when it came to preparing me for law school, and I have found that my new course of study has been made easier by the skills that a public relations background imparts.