Western Approach: Video Transcript

Beth McNellie (Miami, 1986) [Partner at Baker & Hostetler, LLP]: I'm personally a big fan of interdisciplinary education for whatever field that you're going to go to. Life doesn't fit into the neat little silos that a lot of education fits into. And when confronted with an issue—whether it be in business or in your personal life or a political life or whatever life you choose to belong to—there have to be lots of different perspectives that you consider when you make decisions on how you're going to confront those problems. And an interdisciplinary education allows you to see a problem from multiple, different perspectives and contemplate some of the collateral issues that you may cause with the decisions that you make in areas that you otherwise would not have anticipated.

But it was the Western approach of demanding that we write lots of papers that helped me tremendously in what I do. I spend a lot of time today still writing briefs, and a lot of the lessons I learned about being succinct, writing short sentences, being direct, not using fancy words—all those things that you think otherwise might be important really aren't, if you're going to be a good writer and actually effectively communicate. And I think my ability to do that, to effectively communicate on paper, really came from my experience in the Western Program, and it really went back to the fact that no matter what discipline we were talking about, we always distilled it back to having to put our ideas and thoughts on paper.

[September 2011]