Alum touts COMM courses as beneficial in pursuit of law degree | Communication Studies

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October 21, 2016

Alum touts COMM courses as beneficial in pursuit of law degree

For some, fall is time for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, for others fall is the return of the long- awaited NFL Football season. For avid television fans, fall brings with it a new season of network television programming. In addition to the annual return of much-loved programs, the fall television season brings with it a plethora of new programming. It seems that without fail at least one of the annual fall shows is the stereotypical legal procedural drama. This season's offering "Bull" stars Michael Weatherly, the well-known actor of another legal procedural, NCIS. Of course I would be remiss if I failed to point out that "Bull" is based on the early career of celebrity UNT Alum, Dr. Phil McGraw as a "jury specialist."

For the uninitiated (including me), "Bull's" premise is pretty simple; the main character "analyzes juries to help develop defense strategies." For students of Communications Studies, this should be a concept we are all too familiar with, the interplay between social interaction and human behavior.

As a 2009 graduate of the Communication Studies program, a recent law school graduate, and a very relieved "passer of the bar," I feel as though I am in a unique position to reinforce a mantra that was lost on me while sitting in various classes on the third floor of the GAB, "this stuff matters." From the free-form nature of the performance-based classes, to the thought provoking rhetoric offerings, and the painstakingly detailed (and fear-inducing) COMM 3010, each class has its place in the future; no matter what field you enter.

Admittedly, I do not deny the fact I have lived a sheltered life. I haven't had the fortitude to skydive out an airplane, zip line down a mountain, or even really drive that fast on the highway; but few things have been more terrifying than the unexplainable responsibility of standing in front of a Judge for the first time on behalf of a client. Fortunately, I am able to look back on the skills I obtained in classes such as Performance of Literature and have the confidence to convey my message calmly, concisely, and convincingly.

Anybody who has practiced law for any amount of time will attest that being an attorney is a far cry from drama that typically plays out on television. Instead, in order to be an effective advocate for your client and their cause, an attorney must be able to understand and address interpersonal conflict, recognize non-verbals, and write and cite laws and legal precedent with unwavering particularity; sound familiar?

During my three years in law school, and early on in my tenure as an attorney it is readily apparent that the skills I acquired from my Communication Studies training are not only applicable, but also necessary for the successful practice of law. There is no doubt that the Communication Studies program at UNT certainly helped put me in the right direction.

-Josh Livingston B.A. 2009