What’s Next: Law Where The Laws Are Made

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Now through the dreaded college decision process, Keira Dolan, a senior at Verona High School, has decided to pursue the study of the law in a city full of it: Washington D.C. She’s headed to George Washington University, where she will major in psychology on the pre-law track.

Dolan has always been interested in the humanities in general. Throughout her time at VHS, she took classes like AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP U.S. History, and AP U.S. Government. She was also the co-president of the Book Club, and the lead prosecuting attorney on the VHS Mock Trial team.

Prior to joining the Mock Trial team, Dolan had planned on pursuing something in the biology field. However during her junior year of high school she left AP Biology feeling uninspired and began considering other options. For the longest time she rejected the idea of pursuing law because she feared the stress that could come along with it, but she flourished in the Mock Trial environment. She discovered that Mock Trial allowed her to “craft a narrative from the situation at hand” and have fun “working with the team.”

Mock Trial teams across the country compete in an imitated court setting around a simulated case based on current events. Students from each school play the roles of prosecuting and defense attorneys, defendants, witnesses, and the like. Each competition involves two schools that take one side of the case, while an impartial judge rules on their performance. They prepare by creating opening and closing statements, learning fact patterns and objections, studying the case information, reviewing all evidence, creating witness questions, and more.

This past year, the Verona High School team made it all the way to the Essex County finals. Although Verona’s prosecution was defeated by the Livingston defense, this did not diminish Dolan’s passion for law.

As she truly found a love for law through the club, she was able to look into it with the help of her father.  Dolan’s father works as a real estate litigator, and their shared drive for the field is ultimately what inspired Dolan and allowed her to obtain a Capstone internship with a nonprofit legal service.

Verona High School runs a Capstone internship program for the graduating seniors where they can begin to work in the field of their choice. “Capstone has been absolutely amazing,” Dolan said. “I love the office and work environment.”

On her very first day on the job with Newark Legal Services, she was able to attend a court session at the same building where she competed in the Mock Trial finals, the Essex County Historic Courthouse. This was a very full circle moment for Dolan. “First I roleplayed a case, and I’m now observing a real case shadowing an attorney,” she said. She even got the opportunity to go into the judges’ chambers as they had a conference.

Now that she has been exposed to this world of law, she just needs the credentials. When she set foot on the George Washington University campus this spring she knew it was the place for her. “It’s such an inspiring place to practice law in,” Dolan says, “surrounded by all these historical sites that have transformed America.” In addition to the city life, and overall accessibility, Dolan says she chose GWU “for its amazing academics and its well-renowned law school.” She’s excited to meet people from across the world, and possibly run into the politicians working throughout D.C.

As of right now, Dolan isnot exactly sure what specific type of lawyer she hopes to become. While she’s inspired by the public interest law work at her internship, there are endless prospects that lie ahead. Dolan hopes to work with public service and she cannot wait to see where her “cards will fall.”

As she searches for the specifics of her future, she has a few goals she hopes to maintain. Dolan aspires to “help people, support my family, live the life I want to live, and be able to practice what I love.”

“What’s Next” is a series of profiles about what members of each Verona High School class do after graduation. MyVeronaNJ has been publishing the series since 2010 and you can read all of them here. Megan McGrath will graduate Verona High School with the Class of 2024. This story is part of her participation in VHS’ Senior Capstone project.

 

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