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Tom Jacob: 2L at Baylor Law School

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<<So says Tom Jacob, a second-year law student at Baylor Law School, when asked, "What do you most enjoy about the study of law?"

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Born in India, Jacob spent a little over five years there before his family moved to the Dallas, Texas, area. He says that his family moved around a bit after they first arrived in Texas but finally settled in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, where Jacob went to high school and which he considers his hometown. He says that he doesn't really have any complaints about growing up in Lewisville and that high school was a great experience for him.

He adds, "I met some incredible people in high school, I think. It's been interesting following their lives — they've gone on to do some amazing things. Some are in law school at the nation's top law schools. Some have started their own companies. Some are professors or teachers all across the country. The caliber of folks I knew from high school is dauntingly inspirational — especially given that our high school was just an average public high school."

After growing up in Dallas, Jacob went to the University of Texas at Austin for his undergraduate studies and then to Baylor for law school. He says this has contributed to a lot of driving up and down the I-35, the interstate that runs from Dallas to Waco, during his years of study.

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Jacob decided on Baylor for a number of reasons. He says that he had a mentor from undergraduate school who was a Baylor lawyer and was a good storyteller and a very persuasive speaker. The mentor joked that he was "a cheap knockoff of one of his professors at Baylor." Jacob thought he should go to Baylor, if only to see this professor. Jacob also says that he had a few friends from his undergrad years who went to Baylor, all of whom seemed to enjoy their time spent there.

An incident in middle school sparked Jacob's interest in becoming a lawyer when he grew older.

"When I was in middle school, two of my close friends were having an argument. I don't even remember what the argument was, but I recall being very annoyed. I wrote out a little contract that said they would agree not to fight anymore and forcing both of them to compromise on their disagreement. I forced them to sign it, and somehow, the compromise held. I sort of got it into my head, whether from TV or the movies or somewhere else, this is what lawyers did. That's where it started. Interestingly enough, contracts is my strongest subject."

Jacob says that a good friend he met as an undergraduate has been a strong influence on him during law school. He says that before coming to law school, he really didn't know much about it — what you're supposed to do, what "clubs" to join, how to study, etc. He says he has taken a lot of cues from his good friend and that it has been a great help.

When asked about his favorite courses so far, Jacob says that he enjoys procedural classes, though he's recently taken an interest in employment law. He says he's become interested in employment law through his clerkship over the summer months.

"I've had the opportunity to work on some employment problems, and they embody what I like about the law — interesting, new, factual scenarios and something new to learn for each case," he says.

Jacob is currently clerking for a couple of law firms in Dallas. He found his internship through the Baylor on-campus interview system.

Jacob explains, "Firms come on campus, interview various people (in 20-minute blocks). If they like you, they will call you back to their offices. This involves going to the firm's office for about half a day. During this time you'll go from office to office, interviewing with one or two attorneys at that firm for about 20 minutes each. Afterwards, you'll usually go to lunch or a dinner with two more attorneys. During the entire process you learn about the firm, what they do, and what kind of attorneys work there. The attorneys get to learn about you, your interests, and evaluate whether you would be a good fit in the firm."

Upon entering law school, Jacob says, he actually had no clue as to the area of law in which he wanted to practice.

"In law school I was always interested in procedural law. But you can't really practice procedural law. During my summer clerkship I was exposed to employment law and took an interest in it," he remarks.

As for the future, Jacob feels that he'd like to go into employment law. He says that he's interested in working for a judge as a clerk for a year or two after graduation, then going into private practice. In terms of long-term goals, Jacob says that he'd like to become a judge.

One organization Jacob is involved with is the Baylor Law Review.

"Law reviews are student-run organizations that are responsible for most of the academic research in the legal field," he explains. "I originally started out as an associate editor. Associate editors are responsible for editing the various academic articles for publication. This means looking at style, citation form, format, etc. Next year, I will be more of a jack-of-all-trades, which I think suits my strengths perfectly. I'll be responsible for the journal's publication from beginning to end. This involves supervising the three components of the law review: (a) the technical editing of the various articles; (b) the publishing of our online supplement, TexSupp; and (c) the academic writing requirements of all members."


 
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I'm a big fan of music and movies. I enjoy learning about the history of modern science. I like learning about physics because I think it's important to learn about how our universe works.

Q. What CD is in your CD player right now, or what was the last song you listened to?
A. Right now, I'm listening to Girl Talk's "Hold Up" from the Night Ripper album.

Q. What's the last magazine you read?
A. I don't have any magazine subscriptions — the last magazine I looked at was The Economist.

Q. What is your favorite TV show/movie?
A. Heroes or The Office.

Q. Who is your role model?
A. Ben Cardozo — he was a judge for the high court of New York and later a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was responsible for some of the most dramatic and significant changes in the law. But that's not why he's my role model. For all the amazing things he did, he was known for how humble he was. That's a rare quality in the legal profession.

Q. What do you think about the current job industry?
A. I'm hopeful about finding a good job. I don't really have any opinions on the current economy.

Q. Will you stay in the state you're in for a law job, or is another state more appealing at this point?
A. I'll probably end up in Texas, but I will explore other states first.

Q. What is something that most people don't know about you?
A. I think a lot of friends think I've got a lot of self-discipline, which is far from the truth. I have to force myself to eliminate distractions when I work; otherwise, I'd get no work done. For example, I can't work on the computer without being distracted by the Internet. So instead of simply not getting on the Internet, I'll eliminate that distraction by going to places where I can't get any wireless signal.

Jacob feels that there are various advantages to being involved in student associations while in law school.

"I think employers look for well-rounded people," he says. "You make friends at the school. You pursue activities you're interested in."

Jacob says that a favorite law school memory so far is competing on the Baylor National Ethics Mock Trial team.

He says, "It was just an incredible experience start to finish. I think it's been one of the greatest learning experiences in my life."

As for advice for his law peers, Jacob remarks, "For people who are about to enter law school, I would tell them that it's going to be more of a consuming experience than they could have ever imagined. I think the mistake some people make is to fight that — sometimes they have to let law school dominate their lives. Of course, some people have the opposite problem — they let the law dominate their lives to the exclusion of everything else. It's a tricky balance to pull off, and I doubt anyone really figures it out completely."

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He adds, "The most important thing I've learned…is how to take the energy you dedicate to the things you love and dedicate it to the things you want to accomplish…Law school taught me that you can take that energy…and direct it into anything you want to do."

The University of Texas At Austin

    


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