Cody Smith, Class of 1999

Post-Graduation:
I attended law school at the University of Virginia. Upon graduating from law school in 2002, I joined the Washington, D.C. office of Jones Day, an international law firm with over 2,300 attorneys in 30 offices around the globe. I specialized in litigation.

Current Career:
I now work in the Richmond, Virginia office of McGuireWoods LLP, an international law firm with approximately 900 attorneys in 17 offices worldwide. I practice in the Business & Securities Litigation department.

Some of the Rewards and Challenges of this Position:
One of the main rewards of working as a litigator at a large law firm is that the job is always changing because of new clients, new cases, and new legal developments.  I also really enjoy the fact that litigators are always writing. On the other hand, one of the primary challenges of practicing law is that at times the hours are long and unpredictable.

Your most Exciting or Worthwhile Experience in this Position:
For the past three years I have provided pro bono legal representation to a Colombian family that had fled to the United States after facing persecution by guerilla groups in their homeland.  These efforts culminated in my clients being granted political asylum by the U.S. government in 2007.  My colleagues at McGuireWoods recently recognized my efforts by naming me the firm's pro bono attorney of the year.

How did the education you received from Illinois Wesleyan's Political Science Department help prepare you for this position?
I would not trade my IWU education for anything. The political science department's wonderful professors helped and encouraged me to develop both my writing and critical thinking skills. Moreover, the small class sizes enabled me to participate in class and feel more comfortable explaining and defending a position. 

Advice You Would Like to Give to Wesleyan's Current Political Science Majors:
If you are thinking of going to law school, I would recommend taking courses that involve a lot of writing. I'd also suggest trying to get an internship while in college so that you can get a better feel for the many career paths that you can take. Finally, I'd advise current students to try to do a little traveling before settling into the real world.  If I had it to do over again, I would definitely take a semester to study abroad or in D.C., take a May Term travel course, and/or go backpacking in Europe.