"Beginning with the introductory courses I took during my first year, I was asked to think hard about big issues, and to express my analysis clearly and concisely. I considered (and momentarily pursued) an academic career in philosophy because I had so enjoyed studying it at UVM. But academia is not for everyone, and I learned quickly that it was not for me.

"I realized that what was rewarding to me about philosophy was not actually answering the big questions, but the process philosophers used to get there. I decided to go into the law. From my first day of law school and through my almost 15 years of practice, I have applied the tools I learned as a philosophy student, and I get much the same pleasure applying those tools to my legal work as I did applying those tools in my studies. I use the skills I learned to break down my cases and my opponents’ cases into their basic elements. A case or claim can fail if any one of its elements is unsupported by either fact or law. Breaking a case down into its elements is also necessary in order to analogize your case to reported cases. I use the skills I learned to grasp the logic that supports my arguments, my opponents’ arguments and the law. I use the skills I learned to test the arguments I and my opponents advance: will the rule I or my opponent is urging the court to adopt for the case at hand apply with equal force in other circumstances involving other litigants? Finally, I express my arguments and analyses every day — to clients, opponents and courts.

"These skills have served me well. They helped me through law school, to succeed as a junior associate, to rise to partner at a national firm, and then to transition to a regional firm in a more family-friendly location, where, when my five-year-old tells me I’m not being fair, I can confidently tell him that he does not understand what it means to be fair."