Where do you work?
I am currently a legal consultant. I live in Montreal, Quebec, but do most of my consulting work in northern New York. After undergrad, I went to law school, graduated in 1999, and spent the next five years working for a small law firm in Morgantown doing personal injury and medical malpractice cases. I moved to Montreal with my wife who is finishing her residency in Orthopaedic Surgery. I am also currently writing a book on personal injury law which is due to be published in the Spring of 2006.
What is your job title?
Self employed personal injury legal consultant.
How long have you had this position?
Since October, 2004, when I moved to Montreal.
What are your key duties at work?
I essentially assist general legal practitioners with the preparation and trial of personal injury cases. Many general practitioners rarely do personal injury cases and appreciate the insight that I have gained by doing many such cases.
What kind of additional training does this job require besides your degree?
None, other than a law degree and the ability to market oneself.
What is a typical day like?
On those days that I am actually providing services to a client, I typically drive to the attorney’s office and spend the day organizing medical records, drafting pleadings, letters, and other documents, and discussing strategy with the client.
Does your job involve travel?
Most of my jobs are about an hour from Montreal, in Plattsburgh, New York.
What do you like most about your job?
Right now, I like the fact that I only work out of the house an average of 1 to 2 days a week- sometimes less. I can take whatever cases I want to, turn down whatever I want to, and I have time to do a lot of reading, writing, and walking.
How do you feel Philosophy has prepared you for this job?
Philosophy gave me superior logical thinking abilities. To be able to take in LARGE amounts of information and sort it out logically in a manner necessary for presentation of the case is a great advantage in law practice- especially trial practice.
Do you think philosophy has prepared you better than other majors might have?
Absolutely. No other major gives such immense logical thinking abilities, but goes beyond mere logic by teaching students to process ideas in the abstract to create new ideas and theories. It also prepared me to be persuasive, both toward judges and juries, but also in convincing clients to make decisions based on my advice. No other major really prepares students in the art of logical persuasion.
Is there anything philosophical about what you do?
Some. There are moral issues involved in strategizing the presentation of a case. I also have the opportunity to present moral arguments to judges for the purpose of changing existing judicial policies. Other than that, and the obvious logical component, though, there isn’t really a lot of need for the use of traditional philosophical subjects.
What attracted you to Philosophy/Why did you choose to major in Philosophy?
I took my first Philosophy class at Garrett Community College in McHenry Maryland. It was taught by the president of the college, Dr. Steve Herman. I can’t explain why, but I was hooked from the first day. For the first time in my life, I realized that for thousands of years philosophers have agonized over the issues that had been floating around in my mind unanswered. I then took ethics and also learned some symbolic logic with Dr. Herman and a couple other students over the summer at his house. From that point I had no interest in any other major. When I graduated from WVU, six of us got degrees in philosophy, and I was the only one not a double major. I even had to petition the Dean to take additional philosophy courses because I had gone over the limit that one can take in any one subject. Even today most of my non work related reading is philosophy. Right now I am pretty focused on the fourth way philosophies of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and their students- right now I am reading Living Time and the Integration of the Life by Maurice Nicoll which is basically a scientific and esoteric analysis of time(when I was at WVU I had no interest in anything that wasn’t strictly analytical- I have changed quite a bit in that regard).
What advice would you give to an up and coming student considering majoring in Philosophy?
If you enjoy philosophy, then do not write it off because you think you won’t be able to get a job with the degree or that you NEED some other degree in order to go to law school. Philosophy can give you thinking and reasoning abilities that can help guide your life, not just your means of making money. In other words, if you study Philosophy, and you love it, you’ll be a better person for it.
What would you say to someone who was worried about the job prospects of Philosophy majors?
Philosophy majors are actually quite desirable to those employers who are smart enough to know that they should desire philosophy majors. Even if you don’t go to graduate school, philosophy majors make great managers, technical writers, creative writers, researchers, and of course, gas station attendants. :) Seriously, if you do what you love (even if it’s mopping floors), the money will come! Not only that, but you’ll be happy, you’ll be happy to be around, people will like you, and your life will be good, and you will have plenty.
Do you consider yourself a Philosopher?
For god’s sake man, define your terms! That’s the first rule of philosophy! :) I’m not sure what you mean by ‘philosopher.’ But yes, I consider myself a philosopher by my terms. Of course, I believe that everyone is a philosopher, to some extent, in their own way.
What is the number one thing you learned from your experiences as an undergraduate Philosophy major at WVU?
The path to being a well-rounded, middle path person.
Anything else you would like to say?
Yes, I HIGHLY recommend to any philosophy major who needs a cluster c (science) course that they take the introductory Oceanography class by Dr. Smosna- Geology (don’t worry, it is on a World of Science type level). Outside of the Philosophy Department, he is the best professor I had at WVU (I hope he is still there). I took both his Evolution of the Earth and Oceanography classes and he was a fantastic teacher. I recommend him every time I get the chance.