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Pre-Law Club students take field trip to Chicago

03/07/2012
Students who took part in the field trip included, from left, Morgan Hubbard, Alex Holt, Corbin Beastrom, Will Grunow, Ida Hedqvist, Claire Winter, Rebecca Isaacs and Karolina Korzee.
Earlier this month, Monmouth College’s Pre-Law Club took a day-long trip to Chicago to learn more about the legal profession. The trip was organized by Brad Nahrstadt ’89, a partner at the law firm of Williams, Montgomery & John and a member of the college’s board of trustees.

Students who took part in the field trip included Corbin Beastrom, Will Grunow, Ida Hedqvist, Alex Holt, Morgan Hubbard, Rebecca Isaacs, Karolina Korzee and Claire Winter. They began their time in Chicago with Nahrstadt at his firm’s offices on the 61st floor of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).

“In a plush conference room that seemed to hover over Lake Michigan, Brad talked to our students about the hard work and dedication it takes to make a successful career in law,” said political science professor Farhat Haq. “He also answered questions about his specialty -- liability defense -- and colorful cases his firm has handled.”

The group then walked a few blocks to the federal court building to meet with Chief Judge James Holderman and his law clerk. Holderman described his career path from hog farmer to lawyer to judge. He included an account of a phone call he received in his kitchen from President Ronald Reagan informing him that, with his permission, he would be nominated to be a federal court judge. Holderman and his clerk also discussed with students the range of cases adjudicated in federal court, points of constitutional law and the challenge of fair sentencing given special circumstances that sometimes arise.

The students returned to the Willis Tower and had a “sumptuous” lunch with two other MC alumni who are lawyers based in Chicago -- Jeff Bakker ’90 and Dan Cotter ’88 -- as well as Nahrstadt’s wife, Debra, who is a labor law attorney for British Petroleum.

“In a lively and informative session, the lawyers and students discussed the changing landscape of legal education and practice in the United States,” said Haq. “The lawyers also gave students advice regarding how best to prepare for admission to law school.”

After lunch, the group walked to the state court building to meet Appeals Court Justice Terrence Lavin, who told students that his writing skills and background in journalism opened up the opportunity for him to go to law school and eventually become a judge. He also briefly discussed two cases -- one civil, the other criminal -- in which he had recently been involved, providing copies of the court’s findings for students to peruse on their journey back home to Monmouth after what all agreed was a busy and fulfilling day.

“The Pre-law Club gives a special thanks to all who participated, and particularly to Brad Nahrstadt for making it all happen,” concluded Haq.