Thomas R. Del Monte, Class of 2009
Legal interests: Business planning, JD/MBA, cleantech, clean energy law and policy, and greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes
Bachelor’s degree: BA in Legal Studies & Philosophy, University of California Santa Cruz, 2004
Hometown: Santa Rosa, Calif.
Dream job: A wildly successful entrepreneur
Quote: Never forget to only measure success by your own standards because what makes one feel successful makes another miserable. Those with a clear vision about what success—big or small, in the legal community or otherwise—means for them are much more apt to win in the end.
1) What made you decide to come to USD School of Law?
I did not know much about USD School of Law when I was accepted other than its ideal Southern California location. After doing more research I became excited about USD’s aim to become a “national” rather than regional law school. I decided that for me a school striving to be better was a better choice than one that was ranked somewhat higher, yet content in its position. I was not disappointed.
2) During your first week here, what was one of the first things that impressed you?
Frankly, I was too busy reading and adjusting to notice much. My first week was filled with finding my bearings in a somewhat unfamiliar situation. USD, particularly the Student Bar Association, did a great job of making the transition as painless as possible with the orientation and mentor/mentee programs.
3) What activities have you been involved in at USD School of Law?
The SBA, Environmental Law Society, a Mock Trial tournament, UC San Diego, Rady School of Management Flex-MBA, the Land Use Clinic where I worked with the City Planner’s Office, work with the Energy Policy Initiative Center, the Journal of Climate & Energy Law, several networking events, and intramural sports.
4) How hard is law school? Is it more or less work than you thought?
If law school were easy, everybody would be doing it. That being said, I did find it to be difficult in the beginning due to the ABA-required 1L curve, but school seems to become progressively easier as the semesters pass.
5) What is the best thing that has happened to you here at law school?
Aside from the challenging and interesting experiences I have gained at USD that are more résumé oriented, I am happy to say that I found my passion here through my work with the Energy Policy Initiative Center and the Journal of Climate & Energy Law. My work with these organizations has given me a clear direction for my career that I am confident will not only be quite lucrative, but also socially and morally responsible.
6) What is some of your previous professional experience? How did that experience help you decide to go to law school?
Prior to law school, my professional experience consisted of starting one of those student-run house-painting businesses, being a teacher’s assistant and tutor for a UCSC writing course, having a Congressional internship in both Santa Cruz and Washington D.C., and working multiple restaurant gigs—if you can call serving and bartending “professional” work.
Also, while studying for the LSAT, I worked part time with my father’s construction business, which unexpectedly proved invaluable to my work in city planning and real estate law and policy. Plus, despite not having swung a hammer for awhile, I have no doubt knowing how physical infrastructure systems work and how to build and fix things will help inform my admittedly non-traditional legal career in clean energy.
7) What advice would you give to a prospective student? What things might you have done differently?
Choose your school wisely. Go with the environment that will suit you best. Once you start, never worry about what other students are doing to study. You are smart, that is why you are here. Keep studying in the same way that earned you your acceptance into law school, but for much more time and more efficiently. Efficiency is key.