I Wish I'd Known

Vol. 42 No. 4

By

Pamela Bondi received her undergraduate degree from University of Florida and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law. She is Florida’s 37th Attorney General.

In law school, I wish I’d known that I would recognize my professional calling immediately when I found it. Even as a 2L, I wasn’t certain that I wanted to practice law. However, that ambivalence disappeared when I enrolled in a prosecution clinic during my last year of law school.

The Florida Supreme Court certified students in this clinic so that we could actually try cases while still in law school. During that clinic, I tried four jury trials. I realized that I never wanted to do anything else. I had no doubt that I was meant to be a prosecutor, and for the next 18 years, I proudly served as a state prosecutor in Hillsborough County, Florida. I loved being a prosecutor and only decided to run for attorney general after careful consideration and weighing the fact that, as attorney general, I could make a difference at state and national levels.

When you’re in law school and taking courses ranging from constitutional law to criminal and from property to torts, it’s sometimes challenging to realize how those courses translate to real-life experience. These courses provide the theoretical and analytical foundations that will serve you throughout your career. Rest assured that when you strike upon your calling and passion in law, you’ll know it. When that day comes, you will have the fundamental skills to ply in your work. These courses also expose you to ideas that you may have never considered. You may find yourself interested in something that you never even knew existed.

Last spring, I was thrilled to present the commencement speech at my alma mater, Stetson University College of Law. As it is here, my advice to the graduates was to follow their passions. I knew that I wanted to enforce Florida’s laws and prosecute criminals to make our communities safer. Eventually, it was this passion that led me to serve as Florida’s attorney general. While my advice is not new, or even easy to follow, doing so and making the necessary sacrifices will lead you to more success and satisfaction than you could ever hope for.

Be open to new opportunities and explore everything. Law school is your time to consider all the possibilities. You will find your place and may find, like me, that there was only one thing you were meant to do. If I’d known this as a 1L and 2L, I would have spared myself a lot of fretting and really enjoyed the ride.

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