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Liberal Arts Graduates

Sarah A. Kirkpatrick, JD

Photo by Leah Rea Photography

What I do now:
I am a Partner with Bradley Murchison Kelly and Shea LLC. I have been practicing with my firm for more than 20 years doing legal work in various areas. My practice is primarily focused on commercial contract work in and related to the energy field - in areas ranging from master service agreements to construction contracts to IT contracts, including local on-site expert services and SAAS contracts.

My work/job consists of:
Drafting contracts for clients, working through proposed changes by vendors, working as part of the clients' deals to close contracts, and hosting training for clients on contracting. I still do litigation as well, and to that end, I do the traditional briefing and paper management that most litigators do.

Path to my current career position (how I got from the past to the present):
When I was 15, my Civics teacher at Caddo Magnet High School, Emma Farmer, told me I should be a lawyer because I advocated for my classmates with her. She was the driving engine on my career path. From there, I was good at writing, so I worked in the writing lab at LSUS, took as many classes as I could that required essay tests and papers, studied for the LSAT, and picked LSU Law School because I had the misguided idea that I also wanted to earn a Masters in PA at the same time I earned my JD. I hated Baton Rouge traffic, so I made sure to clerk with local Shreveport firms. I loved clerking for my firm, and when I got a job offer from them, I accepted and stopped looking. Here I am 20 years later...

How I got to LSUS (or why I chose LSUS):
My parents completed the financial aid paperwork for Loyola University incorrectly, and we found out late that we were going to have to pay a lot more money per semester for me to attend Loyola than my parents had. I immediately signed up for LSUS with the idea that I would stay for one or two semesters, but I loved my professors, so I continued through to graduation. This turned out to be a real plus, as I have learned since college that New Orleans just would not have been the right college town for me.

Fond memories of LSUS:
I loved SGA meetings. Though LSUS wasn't a very political campus, I was actually involved in a few local protests and statewide student rallies through my involvement with SGA. Through those experiences, I met some folks I still know. I excelled at committee work, and I enjoyed serving on lots and lots of committees over my tenure. I met my husband at LSUS and through him got to know the Greek system and met some lifelong friends through them. I have fond memories of all my classes with Drs. Bill Pederson and Milton Finley, and I took every class I could with them. Lastly, I enjoyed working in the writing lab, and I still teach new lawyers coming in the same things I told other students who were struggling with their writing.

LSUS faculty who helped me:
Drs. Bill Pederson and Milton Finley both helped me all the time and listened to my rants all the time. Dr. Larry Anderson hired me for the writing lab. Nancy Hutson encouraged me in my writing to make me confident enough to apply for the writing lab. Dr. Donna Mitchell Austin helped with career advice and contacts.

How LSUS helped me succeed:
LSUS was the right size campus for me to have room to develop my leadership skills. Because so many people were nontraditional and busy with work and families, there were also lots of opportunities to try different leadership roles. I don't know if I would have blossomed in another environment. Once you've learned to lead, you can lead anywhere. In fact, it's hard to stop once you start.

Advice to college-bound students:
Learn to manage your time EARLY - like in the first few weeks. College class requirements are different from high school, and you have a lot of "down time" in the day. That "down time" is really study time! Befriend one or two of your professors. No matter what, there will come a time when you need someone on the faculty to fight for you because they know you. Professors can help open your ideas to advance majors and jobs in a field that you may know nothing about. They can also hire you and help you get jobs.

Advice to someone who wants to enter my field:
Read and write as much as you can. Work as a runner for a local firm (you need the contacts, if nothing else). Try to do some public speaking or get involved in an agency that uses rules of order, so you can get used to applying rules.

Tips on choosing a major or career:
These days an undergrad degree is a stepping stone to an advanced degree. Pick a degree field where you will excel, so your grades are good enough to get into the advanced degree program!

Successes (honors, awards, etc.) in my life:
-Various Top Attorney recognitions
-Shreveport Times Leadership Award, 2009
-2007 Inaugural Class, 40 Under 40 Young Professionals of the Year, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce
-Shreveport-Bossier Community Foundation, 2006 Community Catalyst
-Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier, Community Volunteer of the Year, 2003

I've learned this from life:
You are your own measure of what success and happiness mean. No one else's definition matters.

What I'd be doing if I had all the time in the world:
Traveling everywhere, cooking everything, and taking time to lie in the warm sunshine, read books, and watch the clouds roll by - all with my husband and daughter, of course.

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