Before starting law school, Dan O'Reilley was a counterterrorism analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Here's how he got to Indiana Law, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.
Before law school... I worked for five years with the Defense Intelligence Agency primarily as a counterterrorism analyst. I did rotations at the Pentagon and other agencies, and I deployed to Iraq twice. The deployments were easily the highlight of my time at DIA. Flying over Baghdad in a Blackhawk was obviously very exciting, but the most rewarding aspect of the job was the fast-paced teamwork. Collaborating with military and civilian analysts and operators was amazing. This sometimes led to shouting matches and whiteboard sessions that lasted until dawn, but it was interesting work that had an immediate impact.
Treat it like a job: I think working before law school improved my time management. I treat law school like a job. I get to the library around 8 a.m., work between classes, and don’t leave until I’ve finished. Since I like to run or workout in the evening, this forces me to be efficient during the day. As an analyst, I assembled disparate bits of intelligence into a coherent picture and then presented a clear, concise message to a range of audiences. I think that skill translates very well to law school. You have to distill down what’s really important and present it clearly.
I chose Indiana Law because... After growing up in D.C., going to undergrad in Baltimore, and then working in D.C., I was ready to move off the East coast. I applied all over the Midwest and West coast, but Indiana’s reputation and comfortable feel really made it stand out. I visited on a cold, gray November day, but the admissions staff was so welcoming and my tour guide invited me out that night – it really had a community feel and the town to match.
What surprised me? It wasn’t as competitive as I expected. There’s no question my classmates are all brilliant over-achievers, but it’s still a very collegial environment. I missed a class a couple weeks ago, and without even asking, three people sent me their notes. I would also say the professors are very approachable. I half-expected some ivory tower academics, but it’s the opposite. They genuinely want you to learn the material and encourage office-hour visits.
In Bloomington, I can't live without... Yogi's, a great local sports bar. I'm a huge D.C. sports fan, but the local stations almost never show Redskins and Capitals games. So I usually recruit a few classmates and head to Yogi's where they have dozens of televisions and good, greasy burgers.