Tuesday January 6th was a splendid day because while it was rainy outside, the class was able to stay inside the W&M office. Instead of going out to venture into DC, we stayed inside the cozy building and had two separate speakers join us: Jared Wessel, a United States Trade Representative (USTR) and Philip Wallach, a fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution. The speakers were both very articulate, knowledgeable in their fields, and best of all, excited to be spending part of their day talking with us.
Jared Wessel, an alumnus of W&M, was extremely enthused about his career as a government lawyer and provided very helpful advice for those of us considering law school after graduation. It is, of course, largely known and recognized that while law school used to be a great choice about 10-15 years ago, it is no longer seen as an option that will bring in a guaranteed well-paying job after graduation. Thus, if you are considering law school right now, it is imperative that you receive great grades during your years as an undergraduate, do well on the LSAT, and apply to as many competitive law schools that you have a strong chance of getting into. However, the most important thing to have is a genuine desire to practice law, because it is not an easy (or cheap) three years you’d be committing to. After attending NYU Law, Mr. Wessel worked as Technical Advisor for the United Nations, a Clerk, and an Associate at a law firm. His current career as an USTR focuses on our international trade policies and regulations with China – a very exciting career indeed!
Our meeting with Philip Wallach was intellectually stimulating; Brookings is a nonprofit research/public policy institution which employees many people who are experts in a variety of fields especially relevant to current happenings in the U.S. political arena. Mr. Wallach talked to the politics class mostly about climate change – which is obviously a very hot topic in politics right now. It was certainly insightful to receive an objective, educated opinion about how the climate change debate is currently affecting politics – for both the left and right winged parties, and how the national issue moves international affairs/policies. One fact that really stood out to me though is that the U.S., Europe, India, and China are the four biggest carbon dioxide emitters (70-80% of all global emissions come from these four countries alone.) Whether or not you think climate change is real or not and whether or not people are responsible for this change is, to me, irrelevant to the problematic issue of this statistic.