William Berry ‘08: History and the Practice of Law

William Berry ‘08: History and the Practice of Law

berryAfter graduating with an undergraduate degree in history from Presbyterian College, William Berry pursued his law degree at the University of Alabama. While at PC, Will was active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Presbyterian Student Association, the PC choir, and Celtic Cross. He also served on PC’s Honor Council and was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors society, and Delta Omicron, a Music Honors society. Will was also the winner of the Best Paper for a Senior History Seminar in the Spring of 2007!

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MAJOR IN HISTORY AT PC?

I had always enjoyed studying history, but meeting with Dr. Heiser during my freshman year sealed the deal. He suggested that I major in history because studying history teaches you how to think. I had been considering law school, so that was all I needed to hear.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SINCE GRADUATING FROM PC?

After PC, I went to law school at the University of Alabama. I have been a civil litigator for the last four years—starting in Atlanta before moving to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. My interest in history remains despite having a demanding career. I still enjoy reading history, and even my job sometimes involves the subject. One of my more interesting cases brought history to life. I was fortunate to bring a declaratory action delineating a 1974 reciprocal easement encumbering the Byers Peak Ranch, a favorite 1950’s vacation spot of active President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The trial included several witnesses who had met President Eisenhower during his vacations—even a 90-year-old ranch hand who still worked on the property! My passion for history made the case fascinating and helped me understand my client’s development goals.

HOW DID YOUR HISTORY MAJOR PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR CURRENT CAREER PATH?

PC’s history curriculum sharpened the tools of my trade. My history classes and teachers taught me not only how to think, but also how to work. Civil litigation requires relentless reading and writing, and part of my success in the field comes from the reading and writing habits I developed in PC’s history classes. And the department develops more than your intellect and work ethic: looking back on it, perhaps the training I least appreciated at the time was in presenting. In particular, the senior seminar courses required of all history majors put me on the right track for handling the public speaking engagements my job demanded. My first argument in a courtroom was actually before the Colorado Supreme Court; I was amazed how similar the preparation for that argument was to my senior seminar preparation. If you are considering a career in law, I earnestly recommend PC’s History Department to get you started. Take seriously the opportunities available to you there, and you will look back appreciative to have had the chance to develop such useful skills under such a superlative faculty.

Learn more about the History Department  »