Alumni Spotlight: Joseph Levy
How did you get into philosophy?
My first real experience with philosophy was the introductory epistemology course that I took with Professor Whitcomb. This class taught me a valuable lesson: I’m not as smart as I think I am. As it turns out, philosophy is not an easy subject. But I loved it. Even if it was tough, I loved thinking about complex issues and analyzing arguments. I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to study.
What have you been up to recently?
I’m finishing up my final year at NYU School of Law. I’ve become interested in a wide range of topics, but some of my most prominent interests are torts, administrative law, and trademark law. To me, each has its own philosophical pairing that draws me to the subject: torts with ethics, administrative law with political philosophy, and trademark law with philosophy of language and epistemology.
What do you hope to be doing next?
After I graduate, I’ll be working at the law firm Wilmer Hale, in their Palo Alto office. I’ll be doing general litigation, but I hope to eventually focus on appellate law. I’m also sending out applications to spend a year clerking for a judge, so hopefully I can do that someday as well.
How do you think your background in philosophy helped prepare you for the kind of work you are doing now?
Philosophy is, without a doubt, the most helpful major for law school. In many ways, “thinking like a lawyer” is just like thinking like a philosopher. You need to know how to critically analyze issues, create strong arguments, attack weak arguments, and write clearly. I was prepared to do all of this thanks to my philosophy background. Additionally, many people forget that the law is not disconnected from philosophy. When I arrived at school, I was well-equipped to consider the philosophical foundations of law itself.
What advice would you give other students considering philosophy as a field of study?
First: do it. Philosophy teaches you how to think and write like no other field of study. If you’re worried about job prospects, then add a second major. Philosophy complements any field of study. And as an added bonus, it’s critical to a flourishing life. Second, if you choose to study philosophy, understand that it is a rigorous field of study. Unlike how television portrays the typical philosophy class, learning philosophy takes work. Be sure to dedicate time so that you can learn how to think like a philosopher.