First, Beth Totman went to China for three weeks during high school to play soccer. The trip sparked an interest in Chinese culture and lead to a spot on the women’s soccer team at Harvard. After earning her undergraduate degree, Totman went to Boston College for graduate school to study Chinese History, including a trip back to China when she spent a semester abroad in Shanghai. Post graduation, she applied to the NBC page program and got in, but decided instead to take a production job at startup sports cable station SportsNet New York. A jump over to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a spokesperson was next, and, now, law school.
“My position at the EPA increasingly relied on the understanding of complicated legal issues,” said Totman. “I was essentially the firewall between the press and our lawyers, and ultimately, I felt that having a J.D. would open more doors for me, and push me career-wise.”
Once Totman decided law school was in her future, she was attracted to UM Carey Law for its reputation in environmental law, among other things.
“In addition to UM Carey Law having a highly ranked Environmental Law Program, the school was in a great location—it was easy for me to get back to New York, where I am from, and it opened job opportunities in places like Philadelphia and Washington D.C.,” explained Totman. “I was also attracted by the faculty. They are brilliant leaders in their field, but I also felt I could establish a real relationship with them, something I didn’t have while pursuing my other degrees.”
While some students plan for law school in high school or as undergraduates, Totman believes her professional experience has helped her successfully navigate the murky waters of law school.
“I am more of a ‘how does this apply to the real world?’ type learner,” Totman said. “My experiences allowed me to take my head out of the textbook, out of the theoretical, and into the real world where I can meet people, network, observe, and thrive.”
During her tenure at UM Carey Law, Totman has participated in the Pace Environmental Moot Court, where her team was a semifinalist out of 77 competitors; been selected for publication for the Journal of Health Care Law & Policy; worked on a land use case that is currently before the federal Fourth Circuit; and is a teaching assistant for the Community Justice Clinic.
“I am not sure what is next,” says Totman. “But I know I am well-prepared for it. I had a circuitous route that eventually and gratefully led me to UM Carey Law. But, sometimes, you can only connect the dots by looking back.”