1997, Melissa Aoyagi – Attorney, Davis, Polk, Wardwell

Like many of my classmates, I was drawn to Williams’ history department by an interest in the subject matter. After sampling several courses, I decided, primarily because I enjoyed it, to major in history (as well as political economy). Although I never intended to pursue a career in history, I thought that in focusing on the subject as part of a broad liberal arts curriculum, I would preserve a variety of professional options. Happily, I found this to be the case. After graduation, I worked as an economic consultant. A few years later, I changed course and decided to enroll in law school at New York University. I enjoyed law school immensely, finding the process of analyzing legal precedent (essentially researching and conceptualizing past experience to resolve similar issues in the present) similar to the modes of analysis I learned as a history student. I then worked as a law clerk for a federal Judge in New York. After completing my clerkship, I began my current job as a litigation associate in a New York law firm. As a litigation associate, I have worked on cases spanning several practice areas (e.g., antitrust, consumer protection, immigration, family law) and industries. My job has involved interviewing and assisting in the preparation of witnesses, taking depositions, arguing motions/appeals, conducting legal and factual research, and writing legal briefs and memoranda. I did not expect it, but I have found that more than 10 years after I ended my formal study of history, the methods I learned to critically analyze historical events, conduct research, and weigh evidence from various sources, have proven invaluable in my day-to-day work.