Full Time Practice

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Law Degree is a Leadership Degree

(Written by Nan Barker, WIL Committee chair, who is responsible for the blog focus group "using your law degree in your community and family".)

My dad, who had been ill for some time, passed away on June 1st. Even though we knew his passing was at hand, it has been a difficult and an emotional time.

I am the middle daughter--I have two sisters. My mother is still alive, but my parents were divorced when I was quite young.

After my dad's passing, I wanted my sisters and I to get together to plan his funeral service. I wanted the decisions to be made by us as a group. I asked them about their thoughts, feelings and desires. I wanted to make sure all of the decisions were a result of everyone's ideas and wishes.

I tried the above. Nothing happened. After a few days of trying the above, it finally dawned on me the above mentioned desired process wasn't going to happen. Something needed to be done. Decisions needed to be made.

It was then that my legal training kicked in. I have often heard people call a law degree a leadership degree. I experienced the truth of that statement this past week. The skills I learned and abilities I had enhanced in law school came into play. Skills related to organization, observation, mediation, listening, decision making, compromise, etc. were all used.

The funeral service was yesterday. It went well. My sisters were grateful everything was taken care of. As I was contemplating things today and looking back over the past couple of weeks, I realized the help my legal training provided. I am grateful I have the training I received in law school. It gave me the skills I needed to help my family at a difficult time.


  1. Thinking of you during this hard time, Nan. -Megan N.

  2. So sorry to hear about your Dad, Nan....it is such a tender and difficult time. Thanks for this article, even while you are grieving. You are such a great leader and example!

  3. I'm also so sorry to hear about your dad, Nan. My father passed away a little over five years ago totally unexpectedly. I know the little bit of legal experience I had as a 2L at the time was really helpful in organizing the arrangements and in the years since it has helped in settling all the estate stuff and dealing with my dad's property, etc. A law degree will always be useful, no matter how you use it. That gives me comfort when I wonder why I am paying these student loans every month and also encourages me to be more involved and use my education to help others in whatever way I can. Thanks for posting.

  4. Deborah HendricksonJune 12, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Sorry for your loss, Nan. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights at this tender time.