Briefing Room
Hal Baker


Trial practice class confirms alumnus’ decision to pursue career in litigation

June 12, 2018 | Students

For as long as Hal Baker ’17 can remember, he always dreamed of becoming a courtroom trial attorney. Now, Baker is on his way to pursuing a career in litigation. He graduated a semester early in December and has career-shaping opportunities lined up for after he passes the bar.

“My goal right now is to do as much as I can in litigation,” Baker said. “For some reason, I’m drawn to the pomp and circumstance of going to trial and the opportunity it creates to be a strong and capable advocate that does life-changing work.”

First, he will clerk for Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio before clerking the next term for District Judge Michael H. Watson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Following his clerkships, Baker plans to start in the Jones Day Columbus office. “By going to a large firm like Jones Day, I’ll have this amazing opportunity to do work for the biggest clients on substantial cases and that experience will allow me to become the best attorney I can,” he said.

While Baker has always felt a calling to the courtroom, he said what solidified his decision to pursue a career in litigation was a Trial Practice class, co-taught by Vascura and Watson. It allowed him to experience the court firsthand under the guidance of two skilled and experienced mentors.

“I knew I wanted to be in a courtroom but at that time, I had never been inside one,” Baker said. “The class gave me something I didn’t have but needed: an opportunity to experience the federal courthouse with federal judges in action and most importantly, the confirmation that this is what I want to do.”

A self-described workaholic, Baker said his motivation to finish his studies early was not only so he could start his career, but also for the sake of his wife and two children. A scholarship was crucial to his success.

“The Steven and Misty Smathers scholarship gave me the ability to pursue higher education without having to be constantly concerned about the finances and how I was going to take care of my education and my family. Having that safety net, knowing that somebody out there cared enough to donate so that I could go to school with a family, was really important,” he said.

Baker has just one thing he would like to say to the donors who made his scholarship possible—thank you.

“The donors help make it possible for those of us, especially with more complicated lives, to pursue a dream, and to pursue higher education. So the fact that they care, the fact that they’re willing to invest in students, is something I don’t know how to say anything other than thank you.”