Creating a Career: The Varied Paths of the Class of 1985

No two law careers look exactly alike. For some, the right choice is to build a long and deep career in one place; for others, the most satisfying trajectory winds through different jobs or sectors, offering multiple ways to apply one’s knowledge and talents. To illustrate the variety of paths our alumni pursue, we took a look at the Class of 1985. Among them are corporate executives, law school professors, law firm partners, solo practitioners, public service lawyers, a United States senator, the director of the FBI, and more. Here are just a few, pictured during their Law School days:

James B. Comey, Director of the FBI

ComeyFirst job after law school: Clerked for the Hon. John Walker, US District Court for the Southern District of New York

Along the way: Served as a US attorney, US Deputy Attorney General, and as General Counsel of Lockheed Martin and, later, of Bridgewater Associates.

Chose this path because: “I want to be somebody who, with whatever gifts I have, with the great training I got … took it to try to do something for people who needed me.”

Adam Emmerich, Partner, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

EmmerickFirst job after law school: Clerked for the Hon. Abner Mikva on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals

Along the way: “My biggest career decision was to sign up for what has now been 30+ years at Wachtell Lipton, which has been an incredible journey of both continuity and constant challenge and change.”

Chose this path because: “Deal work means never knowing what the day will bring, other than being interesting and intense. It’s a pleasure to work with clients on something that’s important to them, with engaged and intense colleagues.”

 

Colette Holt, Founder, Colette Holt & Associates, a legal and consulting services firm (Oakland, Calif.)

HoltFirst job after law school: Clerked for the Hon. Thomas Fairchild on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Along the way: “I’ve learned your mentors may not be who you expect. They may not look like you or share your views, but always be open to who will help you to reach your goals.”

Chose this path because: “I focus on minority business issues. It’s an important, though often overlooked, aspect of the struggle for equality. And running my own firm allows me the freedom to work on what is important to me.”

 

Scott Kafker, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court

KafkerFirst job after law school: Clerked for the Hon. Charles Levin, Michigan Supreme Court

Along the way: “Served as Deputy Chief Legal Counsel for Governor William Weld, where I lived my day dream since UChicago of practicing constitutional law.”

Chose this path because: “An appellate decision is a little like a short story, and I have been able to write about a thousand of them so far. I have always wanted to write about the law, and I get to do so in a purposeful, practical way, resolving intractable disputes.”

 

Amy Klobuchar, US Senator from Minnesota

KlobucharFirst job after law school: Associate, Dorsey & Whitney

Along the way: Successfully fought for a Minnesota law guaranteeing new moms and babies a 48-hour hospital stay, ran largest prosecutor’s office in her state.

Chose this path because: “I wanted to make a difference and prove that policymaking can be different, too, by putting partisanship aside, working across the aisle, and finding common ground.”

 

Randal C. Picker, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ludwig & Hilde Wolf Teaching Scholar, University of Chicago

PickerFirst job after law school: Clerked for the Hon. Richard Posner, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Along the way: “Practicing law at Sidley was a great experience. Smart, hard-working, decent people. Lawyers are the institutional engineers building society.”

Chose this path because: “I still feel the intellectual electricity of being at the University of Chicago. Great students and colleagues in pursuit of the next idea.”

 

Stephanie Scharf, A founding partner of Scharf Banks Marmor LLC (Chicago)

ScharfFirst job after law school: Associate, Kirkland & Ellis

Along the way: “I could talk about the many victories although the losses had a greater impact. Learning, pivoting, speaking out, moving forward, being brave—my personal ‘lessons learned.’”

What keeps me going: “A profession with plenty of room for my ‘likes’—strategy, persuasion, teamwork, business, innovation, diversity and, yes, shaping change.”

 

Kim Sinatra, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Wynn Resorts (Las Vegas)

SinatraFirst job after law school: Arky Freed Stearns Watson Greer Weaver & Harris (Miami)

Along the way: “Served as general counsel for both Merv Griffin and Steve Wynn. While at Wynn Resorts, helped build company from development stage to public company with operations in NV, MA, and China—all while raising three magnificent sons.”

Chose this path because: “It’s still really all about building things for me. I love working with creative genius, taking a new idea and working with a great team to bring it to physical reality.”

Class of 1985 after graduation

Class of 1985 now