A Legal Career Built from the Theory of Knowledge

Sydney Burns '10 works as a lawyer in family law, a career greatly inspired by the skills and knowledge she developed while at George School.

In TOK, a philosophy course that encourages critical thinking, Sydney Burns ’10 remembers reading Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. “The conversations I had with Ralph Lelii, my Theory of Knowledge teacher, in and out of the classroom sparked an interest in philosophy that I later pursued in college,” said Sydney. Sydney credits her career path to her strong interest in philosophy, which started in Ralph’s class her senior year.

George School was foundational in shaping the interests, values, and skills that put Sydney on the path toward becoming a lawyer. “I loved how much I learned from my teachers and how they were a part of my social life at George School as much as my academic experience,” Sydney explained. “They were people who I relied on and enjoyed interacting with.”

Sydney became serious about law school as her next step in college when she interned with a forensic psychologist. “My first summer at Smith College, I thought I wanted to pursue a track in psychology, so I interned with a forensic psychologist. I was most excited on the days that the psychologist would go and testify in court. I knew then that was where I wanted to be involved.”

Sydney took a job right out of college as a paralegal for two years, which cemented her desire to become an attorney. During her last semester at Boston University School of Law she began working at the law firm Prince Lobel Tye in the family law department. For the last three years, she has continued practicing family law, which is primarily divorce and custody work that involves a lot of in-court practice and litigation.

She attributes the skills she developed at George School as a major factor in finding success in her career. “George School was instrumental in developing my time management skills,” she said. “It was so important for me to find that balance early on because it was such a rigorous curriculum and you’re living away from home at such a young age.”

While she enjoys being in the courtroom, it is negotiating and resolving a case that gives Sydney the most satisfaction in her job. “Being able to come to an agreement takes a lot of creativity, which people do not ordinarily think of as being part of the law. Trying to find compromises that reflect what both sides are looking for and ways to satisfy both of them takes a lot of hard work. I find it very fulfilling.”

For any seniors interested in pursuing their next step, Sydney recommends keeping an open mind. “Look for opportunities to try different things in order to find the right fit for your interests, values, and skills.”

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