Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Pat Gallagher
Occupation: Assistant District Attorney with the Monroe County DA’s office.
Education (UR and additional): BA (History and Philosophy), University of Rochester, 2007; JD, Wake Forest University School of Law
Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY!
Family: Wife Katie Gallagher (also a Yellowjacket!)
Community activities: I participate in the Big Brother’s Big Sister’s program as a Big Brother. I also try and stay involved with the UR, especially athletics.
When and how did you choose your major?
Well, I came into college sure I was going to do something in the humanities or social sciences. I took a bunch of classes my first two semesters ranging from anthropology to history to philosophy to political science. I always loved history, and still do, so it wasn’t a surprise when I chose that as my first major. But then as my college career went on, I found out I really enjoyed philosophy too, and it got to the point where I kept signing up for philosophy classes, so I decided to add that as a second major as well.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
My main extracurricular activity as a student was being a member of the UR Football team. I played all four years of college, and was captain of the team my senior year. I truly believe I would not be where I am today without that experience. Having two majors and being a member of the football team taught me the value of work hard and also the importance of working efficiently. Playing football also taught me the importance of working as a team, and being a leader. All skills that helped me succeed in law school, and also now as a District Attorney.
What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?
The professors. I didn’t truly learn the benefit of having a close relationship with a professor until my junior and senior years, when I took a couple smaller classes and was forced to get more involved, but I was glad when I did. Professors at the UR are very willing to form a relationship with students, and I believe all students should take advantage of those opportunities. They not only help you succeed in that professor’s class, but they are an invaluable tool for any questions you may have about your education, career, or life in general.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I am currently an Assistant District Attorney for Monroe County. I have always been interested in criminal justice, and always wanted to do something in that field. My time at the UR and law school only solidified that desire, and also made me realize I really enjoyed the complexities of the law, making this the perfect career for me. I get to perform a job in which I feel like I give back to the community on a daily basis, while at the same time dealing with complex legal issues that can change with every case.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
I think my history and philosophy majors have helped me a lot in succeeding in law school. Both of those subject areas really gave me the necessary tools to succeed not only in taking the LSAT’s, but also throughout law school. Law school deals with a lot of writing, memorizing, and learning to think with a logical thought process, all skills that I honed in my two majors. Those skills have continued their usefulness in my career as an Assistant District Attorney as well.
What advice do you have for current students?
Enjoy your time at the UR because you will miss it when it is done. Don’t worry too much about what comes after; things will take care of themselves if you work hard at what you are doing now. Make as many relationships as you can, whether it is with peers, professors, or people in the community. Not only will you get to meet new and interesting people, but you never know if one of those people will end up getting you a job, or even becoming your spouse (like me!).