Interviews with Bob and Paul Bellin

Bob Bellin '69

Q. Why did you decide to go to law school?

After graduation from Marquette University I was working third shift in a factory and taking evening classes for a master's degree in business. There were a number of lawyers in these classes and I was very impressed. That was probably one of the motivating factors that started me thinking about becoming a lawyer.

Was there a law school experience that was particularly meaningful for you, either at the time or in retrospect?

For me law school was an entirely new experience that began with discovering a library that I never even knew existed. I was also very fortunate to have a number of jobs doing legal research during the first two years with some professors who really helped me prepare for the practice. I also think the placement office helped me a lot. I managed to get a clerkship in New York for the summer between my second and third years.

Although that experience convinced me to come back to Wisconsin, it was really a formative one for me. I think on balance it more or less eliminated the "intimidation" factor of the New York silk stocking practice and, at least in my mind, removed some of the Harvard law mystique. Wisconsin stacked up pretty well!    


There are so many student groups and activities. What advice do you have for an entering student in terms of choosing activities?

I made lifelong friends in law school and learned how to play passable games of bridge and hearts... There is no question that learning how to work hard and focus are skills that are invaluable in the practice.

Paul Bellin '05

Q. Why did you decide to go to law school?

During my Peace Corps experience in Niger, West Africa, I observed and learned a number of things about myself and West Africa. One of the aspects of life that concerned me the most while abroad was the rule of law, or lack thereof, I encountered quite frequently. And I found that the law was often abused by those in power and individuals were more or less powerless to do anything about it. 

With this in mind, I thought the best way to empower myself, as well as others, upon returning to the U.S. was to become a lawyer. So my start in law was really grounded in human rights and a check on the big government wheel (and individuals who turn the wheel).


Was there a law school experience that was particularly meaningful for you, either at the time or in retrospect?

I would say I probably encounter the Law in Action principle more frequently than anything else I learned in law school since I have graduated. Businesses seem to opt out of using lawyers until they absolutely have to and most disputes are solved by the individuals in a variety of ways, not necessarily the way the law would decide it.  Moreover, humans can be unpredictable and that does not exclude our business partners.  I feel like there are days Professor Macaulay is whispering in my ear when I have to work with certain business partners.

There are so many student groups and activities. What advice do you have for an entering student in terms of choosing activities?
Strive to challenge yourself. UW offers a lot of activities for students to learn and show employers a breadth of skill and every student should take advantage of that.  If one thinks Law Review would be rewarding and challenging then go for it. But I would advise students to be resolute and continue looking for ways to get involved until they find something that suits them.

What advice do you have for someone just starting to consider law school?

A.  Be sure it's something you really want and are excited to do.  It also helps to understand what it is a lawyer does, whether it's in business law or criminal, etc.  If you haven't taken time after undergraduate school to work or expand your horizons, do so.  I wouldn't recommend law school for anyone who is casually thinking about it. 


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