Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.
Thomas Grimes may be the only law student in the country who can say he was a “roughneck.” While he always dreamed of pursuing a law career, Grimes decided to take an alternate route after earning his undergraduate degree from UCLA, accepting a job working on oil rigs in West Virginia.
“After nearly five years of that experience, I felt I was ready to return to the classroom and pursue my legal education,” said Grimes, who ultimately chose the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University to pursue his JD while concurrently studying for an MBA from ASU. He will graduate this fall.
To ease the transition back to school, and working indoors again, Grimes, from Encinitas, California, enrolled in a paralegal program at the University of San Diego and began working at a business defense litigation firm. “After working as a paralegal, I knew the legal field was right for me,” he said. “Further, I decided that to better serve businesses as clients, an MBA would prove invaluable.”
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law that surprised you or changed your perspective?
Answer: Before beginning law school, I heard horror stories about how law students sabotage one another. At ASU Law, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the students go out of their way to help one another. While competitive with one another, everyone seems to come together and act as a community.
From a more abstract standpoint, the student body is very diverse — both culturally and geographically. Everyone brings a different perspective to the table. On any given topic, the diversity has allowed me to see multiple perspectives I would have never considered — like how a law might impact a specific group negatively.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I hate cold weather and wanted to move somewhere with a booming economy. It was also important for me to attend a college with well-respected law and business schools.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Professor Chad Noreuil ended each criminal law lecture with a two- to three-minute section on mental health. Law school beats people up mentally. His lectures taught me that, regardless of what is going on, it is important to focus on yourself and your emotional well-being.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: No matter how crazy things get, take one day per week and do zero studying. It will help you avoid burnout. Also, have fun and make friends. The Arizona legal community is small — only one other state has fewer lawyers per capita.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: When the weather is nice, my favorite place to study or meet with friends is in the law school’s fifth floor mezzanine. If trying to study or read somewhere quiet, I hunker down in the Reading Room. Pro Tip: There are a few leather chairs in the Reading Room. They are the comfiest chairs in the world and are perfect for taking a power nap.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I will be working as an associate at Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C., an insurance defense litigation firm in downtown Phoenix.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Elephant and rhino poaching in Africa has risen dramatically over the past decade. If given $40 million, I would use the money to help conserve and protect those at-risk animals.
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