Failure was not an option for Shane Flanagan, CLA '18. At least, not in the end it wasn't.
A Classics major, Flanagan was turning in papers late, missing classes and failing courses two years into his time at Temple University. Eventually, he had no choice but to step away from school.
Leave of Absence
When Flanagan first showed signs of struggling, it perplexed one of his professors, Alex Gottesman, who had seen that Flanagan was capable of academic excellence.
Flanagan, however, was struggling through some personal problems. Flanagan also found himself in a position where he needed to take on a second full-time job in addition to his role at Parx Casino. It was too big of a burden for anyone to balance with college.
"I took a step away from school," recalls Flanagan, "and Temple was great about letting me do that without penalizing me at all."
Parx promoted Flanagan to management, and he focused on family and work for two years. He didn't, however, lose sight of where he wanted to go in life. When, thankfully, his problems were resolved, Flanagan was able to work fewer hours, and a return to his studies became possible.
Back to School
Temple and the College of Liberal Arts welcomed Flanagan back. After graduating here in 2018, Flanagan continued on to law school with the full support of his professors in the Classics Department. He's now on track to attain his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022. Flanagan also recently secured an internship at a prestigious law firm.
It's all part of a path Flanagan set for himself at just five years old, when, in his words, he "was one of those really strange children who enjoyed arguments."
As a CLA student, Flanagan pursued his love for the courtroom on the Temple Mock Trial Team, which helped steer him toward his current internship.
"As a lawyer, you generally have to make a decision between pursuing trial work, which often involves working for the government, or going into a law firm," says Flanagan. "You rarely go to trial if you work for a firm.
"However, the firm that I'm interning with this summer, Quinn Emanuel, goes to trial much more often than any other firm of that size. They actually have a mock trial program this summer that I am excited for. And they were my number one choice for law firms I wanted to work for, because of their reputation for going to trial—and winning."
His Biggest Competitor
Today, Flanagan is as certain as ever that he wants a career as a litigator. Law students have several options for pursuing trial work, such as working for a law firm, becoming a government prosecutor or clerking for a judge. In Flanagan's case, the law school student knows who will drive him towards a successful career inside the courtroom.
"What drew me to law was not only an intellectual interest in the law, but also my competitiveness," he says. "I compete against no one harder than myself. My focus is trying to be the best attorney I can be and to learn everything I can learn while working with the team at Quinn Emanuel and go from there. It's the kind of firm that offers the best of both worlds, handling the most sophisticated cases while providing the opportunity to go to trial."
Whatever the future holds for Flanagan, it sounds like he won't forget his past. Knowing what he overcame to graduate college will hopefully remind him he can overcome any obstacle that lies ahead.
"Returning to school was probably the hardest—no, it was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. As a result of taking on too much before stepping away from school—my GPA was a 1.4. So, if I wanted to go to law school, I didn't have any margin for error.
"At the same time, I still needed to work 50 to 60 hours a week managing at the casino while balancing a full-time course load. I nearly called it quits but decided to stick my foot in the dirt and push forward. I had to re-prioritize everything in my life, and I had to make sacrifices—time, relationships, entertainment, sleep—but it was all worth it. Even if it seems impossible, if you have a dream, keep persevering, keep working. That's all."