The Other Road: From English to Law

Courtesy of Belester Benitez

Courtesy of Belester Benitez

Natalie Badalof is a fourth-year Anteater from Santa Clarita, California. She is an English major who will graduate in June. Her favorite book is “Invisible Monsters” by Chuck Palahniuk, and when asked if she reads a lot she replies, “Yeah.”

The professions you envision when you think of an English major are usually a writer, a professor or perhaps an editor. Lawyer certainly is not at the top of this list, but it’s what Badalof desires to be. She specifically wants to be a lawyer involved with copyright and intellectual property law.

We’re sitting across from each other at the foldable wooden dinner table in her living room. When asked what exactly copyright and intellectual property law entails, she uses the foldable table as an example, explaining that there had to be a long process to patent the idea and secure the rights to make a foldable table.

Besides clearing up the process of becoming a lawyer, our conversation had another lesson. As Badalof articulated, “There’s always the opportunity to do more, you don’t have to be restricted by your major.”

Belester Benitez: “What’s your favorite part of being an English major?”

Natalie Badalof: “I like to look at the novels and poetry we read and just get a different perspective of it by really thinking about it closely rather than just reading it for enjoyment.”

BB: “Why did you choose to be an English major?”

NB: “I had a teacher in high school who — she kind of made me realize that being an English major is more than just reading books and writing about them. She taught us that the literature we read is describing our world, and what it should be and what it could be, rather than just looking at things analytically … actually dreaming, using your imagination to shape our world. So that’s why I decided to be an English major. Because she inspired me to do that.”

After graduation, Badalof plans to remain in Irvine and hopefully work at a law firm. She wants to start as a legal analyst or legal secretary, positions with the potential of being sent to law school by the firm.

BB: “What are your post-graduation plans in regards to your career and academics?”

NB: “Get a job at a firm after I go to law school. I kind of want to start somewhere after graduating and then get the experience. And hopefully if it’s a good place stick with it, and come back to it after going to law school.”

BB: “What makes you want to be a lawyer?”

NB: “I just think it’s really interesting. So much happens behind the scenes … that’s kind of what I like about it. I mean, you’re helping people and inspiring innovation, helping represent people who don’t know a lot of the stuff that you need to do, and helping make their dreams a reality.”

BB:  “Will your English degree help you be a lawyer?”

NB: “Yeah, actually I’m just applying for a job right now, it’s called research analyst … a lot of English major stuff is basically research. You’re reading this book so closely and trying to figure it out, and it’s using your critical thinking that is really helpful for law school, I think, and for jobs in the law field.”

BB: “Where do you want to be five years from now?”

NB: “Hopefully in five years I’m an associate starter position at a firm.”

BB: “Would you say it’s your dream to be a lawyer?”

NB: “Yeah. I kind of never thought I was capable of it until I got to college … And then I saw that the steps to get there, like, it’s doable, and that if you can get through four years of research, and thesis and English classes then I can get through a test to get into another three years. You know what I mean? So, coming to college really made me feel like it was doable.”

A college degree isn’t everything; it doesn’t have to define your entire being. To some, it’s the first step into a career, to others it’s a backup plan and in some cases, it can mean a smile on a parent’s face, the simple elimination of a stressful decision or the desired number of digits on a paycheck.

Despite the major on your college degree, there is always room to expand your horizons. Your major should be another badge or accomplishment you add to your repertoire. It should not drive you into a corner or constrict you indefinitely onto one path. As you may have gathered from the title, this column will detail Anteaters who plan to pursue something other than what the traditional connotations of their college majors offer. ZOT!