Pre-law opportunities prepare Tweeton for legal career

Leslie Tweeton ’09 pursued numerous opportunities through Cornell’s Pre-law Program, including two internships and a mentoring relationship with Des Moines attorney Craig Shives ’67. She also honed her leadership skills in a number of campus positions during her four years at Cornell, including student senate president, resident assistant for three years, president of Cornell’s National Residence Hall Honorary chapter, and treasurer for the Slick Shoes dance company. She majored in politics and philosophy.

What has been best about Cornell’s Pre-law Program?

Tweeton and Shives
Leslie Tweeton's many pre-law experiences include an summer internship and ongoing mentoring relationship with Des Moines attorney Craig Shives '67.

The variety of experiences I’ve had with the legal field in general. I’ve been able to visit law schools, law firms, law school forums, and I’ve met many practicing attorneys, former attorneys, and judges. The program has given me the opportunity to really explore a career in law and all that law school has to offer.  My coursework has supplemented the program by giving me a strong foundation in philosophy and constitutional law that help me create a framework for where I want to be in the future.

What has your mentoring experience been like?
Craig Shives is like family now. He has helped me become familiar with private law practice through the internship I had at his law firm. He has also helped me figure out what I’m interested in pursuing after Cornell, as he is a great contact for my questions about different law schools and potential practice areas for after law school.

How about your Cornell Fellowship in D.C. with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores?
My fellowship at NACDS helped me discover what areas of law I’m most interested in.  I found the legal aspect of trade associations really interesting, and I would like to learn more about how I can combine a career in a private law firm type of atmosphere with a career as a lobbyist or in the government in some way.

What were some of the highlights at NACDS?
There were several pieces of legislation that came up for a vote in both the House and the Senate that would potentially have an effect on the chain drug industry. I called our member companies to urge them to talk to their legislators prior to the vote, and I also helped create handouts for the House members that gave statistics about the chain drug industry and its economic impact in their home state and district. The legislation ended up passing both the House and the Senate, so my work was considered vital and a success!

I also attended weekly senior management meetings with CEO Steve Anderson and the senior vice presidents at NACDS, and I actually ran one of the last meetings that I attended when Steve was away from the office. By that point I felt like I knew the Senior VP’s pretty well, so it wasn’t as scary as it would’ve been otherwise.

What skills have you gained as a campus leader?
Basically, I’ve learned how to work with other people effectively through difficult situations as well as rewarding ones. Being what many call a “leader” on campus only came about because I learned to be a team member and work well with others. I think that is the single most important lesson I’ve learned while in organizations at Cornell, and I think it will definitely translate into the workplace.