Thomas Knudsen sits down with pre-law society to talk about careers


Photo Contributed by Taylor Garman

Pre-law Society Co-Presidents Jesus Raya (left) and Taylor Garman (right) hosted a talk featuring Cal Lutheran’s first General Counsel Thomas Knudsen.

Hannah Anderson, Reporter

On March 23, California Lutheran University’s Pre-Law Society hosted a discussion panel with the school’s new General Counsel, Thomas Knudsen. This talk was hosted for students who are interested in pursuing law and provided students who were interested with a chance to speak to Knudsen independently.

Knudsen is the first person at Cal Lutheran to fill the role of a general counsel. As the general counsel, he serves as the chief legal officer for the entire university, and supports legal functions here. He also assists legal and business issues with the school.

Knudsen attended Pepperdine University as an undergrad for his bachelor’s degree, and then pursued his passion in law at University of San Diego. He said he spent many years working at Pepperdine as a Deputy General Counsel, which handles the day to day legal operations. 

“It’s easier to succeed in law school if you grind and if you’re a marathoner. So, when they tell you to do the reading, do the reading. Do not take a few days off and then dig into it. Do the work as assigned,” Knudsen said.

Knudsen made it clear in the panel that law school requires many hours of hard work and commitment. As he made his way to working at Cal Lutheran, he said that a big part of working in law is finding issues that could lead to a possible lawsuit.

“A lot of the practice of law is simply that which is issue spotting, whether it’s in a contract, but there’s someone who slipped and fell and you’re like well, we’ve got to kind of parse that apart,” Knudsen said.

Knudsen said that the school is technically his only client, but since there are always cases that the school has to deal with, they are a very large client. Any legal case or contract that the school has, Knudsen said that he plays a role in maintaining stability and speaking up when something goes wrong.

“I represent a very, very large amount of voices that are never heard. So my background includes a lot of unheard voices, and for me, being able to be at those tables is incredibly important. For women, for mothers, for young students, and for lots of underrepresented people,” Knudsen said. 

The panel was put on by the Pre-Law Society at Cal Lutheran, which is run by senior Co-Presidents Jesus Raya and Taylor Garman. At the panel, both Garman and Raya were asked what made them want to pursue a career in law. 

“I think it started my senior year. It’s a pretty basic story. I did a mock trial, and I kind of fell in love with it. I’ve been working under a legal clinic down the road, it’s called Conoco free clinic. I got to talk to over 600 clients in each different area of law, like immigration, criminal and family,” Raya said.

Raya shared his interest in law, which is different from the path Knudsen took. Raya shared that he is interning at a legal clinic, and his story allowed students to hear another perspective. After Raya shared his interest in the field of law, Garman shared about her passion for law.

“I love the research part of it. I love the analytical part of it. I like the fact that it’s never the same but it’s always similar. There’s different types of people, different types of cases, and different experiences. I like the fact that it’s a stable job to a certain extent,” Garman said. 

After the seniors had their chance to speak,  students were provided with possible career options for those interested in pursuing law, and were given insight on what a career in law looks like on a daily basis.