Jakheem Wheatley ’19 knew he always wanted to attend law school. After graduating with a double major in law and society and sociology, he is now a law student at UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago. In addition to being a pre-law student, he played on two sports teams, worked in the Career Development Center, and completed an honors thesis for sociology.
Can you describe what you currently do?
Currently, I am a first-year law student at UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago. I am the 1L representative for the Black Law Students Association, and I also work part time for a boutique trademark law firm. I am very interested in entertainment law and intellectual property law, which has to do with trademark and copyright.
How has your experience at law school been so far?
My experience so far has been really rewarding. Although it has been a lot of work and a lot of late nights, reading, and briefing cases, I am still enjoying the process of learning how to read, write, and think like a lawyer.
How did you figure out what to major in?
I knew I always wanted to attend law school, so that’s how I decided on law and society. During my first year I ended up taking a few sociology courses, fell in love with the program, and decided to double major. I believe Oberlin provides the opportunity to take a lot of classes in many different academic areas.
How did Oberlin help you build skills for academic, personal, and professional success?
I was a captain for the varsity track & field team, a peer advisor in the Career Development Center, a sociology honors student, and an offensive play signaler/videographer for the football team. I think all of my experiences at Oberlin definitely helped me to build my professional, personal, and academic skills. Those experiences all taught me time management and organization, which is invaluable in every area of my life. My senior honors thesis was a study of diversity issues in the legal profession, which I have been able to talk about in interviews and with my colleagues now at law school.
I also learned how to interact with a diverse group of individuals. More specifically, learning exactly how I can help people with different backgrounds and life experiences achieve their goals. The Career Development Center directly helped me learn the ins and outs of the job search process, from creating a resume and cover letter to networking and interviewing.
Did any professors or faculty at Oberlin particularly enhance your college experience?
Two professors in particular who I think helped me not only in the classroom but in figuring out my path after college were Greggor Mattson and [former Visiting Assistant Professor] Jack Jin Gary Lee. Both provided invaluable advice and answered many questions I had about my future plans.
Do you have any advice for students who are interested in a similar career path?
I would say that one of the things I did early on was I reached out to as many alums in the legal profession as possible, mainly through Wisr. There are so many different areas of law, so for me, it was really helpful learning more about the many different legal career paths to really figure out what I wanted to do in the legal profession and with my law degree. Another tip I would have is to apply to schools based on places you could see yourself living after law school.
Also, there are a ton of diversity legal pipeline programs that you could be applying to now that provide scholarships for things like LSAT fees, law school applications, and so on. I would be more than happy to talk with students about applying to law school, my experiences, and just being as much of a resource as I can over email: email@example.com.
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