‘Find what you love, and stick to it,’ alumni tell students

Donna Clark ’83, left, Nicole DeBorde and Jim Perdue, 1993 classmates, discuss the advice they just passed along to Law Center students as part of the “Day in the Life” speaker series sponsored by the Houston Law Alumni Association.

Donna Clark ’83, left, Nicole DeBorde and Jim Perdue, 1993 classmates, discuss the advice they just passed along to Law Center students as part of the “Day in the Life” speaker series sponsored by the Houston Law Alumni Association.

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Three successful Law Center alums shared their expertise and encouraging words of wisdom with students as part of the “Day in the Life” speaker series hosted by the UH Law Alumni Association.

 A common theme of particular interest to soon-to-be-lawyers was to be open and flexible – but when you find a field you truly love, you should stick with it. “Try to find something that you like to do – that makes you happy,” advised Jim Perdue ’93 who has a successful personal injury practice. His 1993 classmate Nicole DeBorde agreed: “Listen to your mind and go with it. Every day when you get up and go to work you’d better love what you’re going to be doing.”

 DeBorde said she just assumed she would go directly into the corporate world upon leaving the Law Center, and had no interest in criminal law.  Then she ended up working eight years in the District Attorney’s Office before crossing over into criminal defense. “I thought I was doing the Lord’s work” in prosecuting child rapists and murderers, she said, adding that she never dreamed of “working the other side.”  Today, she believes that defense work is very rewarding – partly because her work involves protecting people who are innocent, and partly because of the tremendous sense of responsibility she feels toward defendants, their families and society at large.  Perdue shares her perspective.  “Don’t even look at a law degree as just a way to make a living because the law is much more than that,” he said.  The rewards go beyond money to a sense of helping people get back on their feet and on with their lives after something totally unexpected turns their world upside down, he concluded.

 The third speaker, Donna Clark ’83, a former nurse, knew exactly what kind of law she wanted to practice – something in the diverse field of health care law. Her practice runs the gamut from representing doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to contracts, licensing, and federal regulatory policy. “Now is one of the most exciting times to be a health care lawyer because of what is going on” in Washington with health care legislation, said Clark who has taught at the Law Center as an adjunct professor.  The work brings many rewards, plus an added bonus: it is “more or less recession proof” because of constant changes in the law, she told students.

 The lecture series continues Wednesday, Feb. 25 with speakers in the fields of Real Estate, Intellectual Property, and Environmental Law.

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