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Youth in Law

Daily Herald, 2000

Students involved in District 214’s Youth in Law Program recently met with Thomas Kivlahan, a partner in the Arlington Heights law firm of Drost & Kivlahan, which has partnered with the district’s career program for several years.

Kivlahan offered suggestions in planning the balance of the school year’s program activities, then he and his wife, Elizabeth O’Kelly, also an attorney, answered students’ questions about law school.

To frame the discussion, the students had to read Scott Turow’s book “One-L,” which describes the author’s first year experiences at Harvard Law School. O’Kelly is also a graduate of Harvard Law, while Kivlahan is a graduate of University of Chicago Law School, occasionally referred to as “Harvard of the Midwest,” though Kivlahan objected to that characterization.

It’s smaller and more difficult to get into than Harvard,” Kivlahan  said of his alma mater.

The meeting included a spirited discussion of questions posed by the students such as, “Which is the best Law School?” “Which law schools have the most prestige? “Which provide the best education?” How hard is law school?” And finally, “How accurate is Turow’s ‘One-L’ in describing law school?”

One point everyone agreed upon was the value of a legal education, though husband and wife Kivlahan and O’Kelly disagreed on the ranking of their respective alma maters. They are the parents of a 3-year-old son, whom they say is already learning to think like a lawyer.

The law profession has to put up with its share of negative comments and lawyer jokes, but Wayne Wagner, Rolling Meadows High School teacher and Coordinator of the Youth in Law program said, “I wish all students could have the experience of listening to people like Tom and Liz. The pride they have in their profession is obvious. Careers should be great sources of satisfaction, not just the means by which to earn money. Our Youth in law students certainly know now the right reasons for pursuing a legal career.”

Wagner added that he will use the Youth in Law discussion night as a model for the other career programs he coordinates for District 214, so that those students interested in medicine, engineering, and chemistry careers might also be inspired by professionals in their fields of interest.