Geoffrey W. Macarthur
Class of 2006
LSU Law Student
Background: Degree in engineering from Princeton, spent five years working for a chemical company in St. Gabriel, Louisiana before applying to law school.
Why Law: Law has been on my mind since college. I was comfortable being an engineer, but when I was laid off in 2002, I was pushed into evaluating where I was going with my life. Engineering seemed to offer little job security; with a law degree I could always hang out my shingle and work for myself. I don't know if I would have made it if I'd tried to go to law school right after I got out of college. I was 30 when I went back - and I was ready. Law has changed the way I think about the world. There are two sides in a lawsuit. It's a big shift from looking for one correct answer in engineering to seeing the entire picture.
Why LSU: First, you can't beat the value you get. My parents aren't footing the bill. And having a degree from LSU doesn't force you to practice in Louisiana, but the word isn't out there yet. The quality is phenomenal. I'm a Princeton grad and I'd put LSU Law up against its Ivy League counterparts any day of the week and twice on Saturday.
The Curriculum: Even if you never plan to use civil law in daily practice, the additional power of analytic reasoning it gives is invaluable. It sets LSU apart from any other law school in the country. Common law is brick-by-brick, driven by case law. You see the wall being built. Civil law forces you to start with an abstract concept and apply it to real situations. People who aren't at LSU are used to going into one direction; LSU students are forced to grasp an amorphous concept and bring it down to reality. An LSU-trained lawyer has better analytic skills than one who has not studied civil law.
Career Plans: Louisiana's a magnet. People come and they don't leave - like me. Until I get my legal feet under me, I'll probably stay in Louisiana. There are a lot of opportunities for networking. Maybe patent law, maybe environmental defense. LSU has prepared me for that if I want it. There's always something related to the chemical industry in Louisiana- toxic torts, product liability. A lot of other doors are open to someone who combines a law and a technical background.