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The next step in an aviation career


By Matthew Gorney
Matthew Gorney, a 2L at the University of Kansas School of Law, is student editor of Student Lawyer.

Born on Wheelus Air Force Base in , David Cain grew up around planes and aeronautics. Cain’s family moved around when he was growing up because his father, Jim, was in the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

So David’s entry into a flying career isn’t that surprising. And Cain certainly knows what he is talking about.

Airline captain? Check.

Corporate pilot? Check.

Flight operations technical writer? Check.

But at each step of the way, Cain said he was inching toward law school whether he knew it or not.“

I have been preparing to go to law school my whole life,” Cain says. “My undergraduate work was in writing, but it was an emphasis in Latin. The reason I was emphasizing Latin was because I had a calling to the law.”

But it did not stop with his undergraduate degree.

“I’ve run into people who had the benefit of a law degree and I thought, ‘they are really doing my job better than I can do it,’” he says. But I think it’s largely based on the skills you acquire in law schools or hone in law school and the critical thinking that comes from a legal education.”

Cain is a part-time student and 3L at California Western School of Law. When not in class, he could be at that full-time job as a technical writer. Or he could be with his wife and children. However, to make sure there is time for everything, an appropriate balance must be struck.“

I think that if I wanted to be at the top of the class, I probably could be. But it would take so much time away from those things that are really––at least for a nontraditional student like myself––more important than law school,” he says. “Balance is critical in everything you do.”

“The first, most important thing in my life is my wife and my children and I know that they wouldn’t be safe, they wouldn’t be secure, they wouldn’t be healthy and happy without a stable, balanced father.”

There are also certain understandings that come with balancing family life with law school, Cain says. First, if married, it requires an extremely supportive spouse. It also takes communication.

“I think that’s critical that my wife’s just been adamant of the process since the very beginning,” he says. “Maybe a month prior to finals––in my house we call it the time of great stress. Everybody knows that dad may be a little bit keyed up or he may have to study at times when he typically doesn’t study. So, I think communication is the key.”

However, once he is finished with law school, Cain says he doesn’t necessarily want to leave the aviation sector.

“Law school feels like the next logical step in my aviation career,” he says. “I found myself called specifically to those regulatory questions, drawing comparisons between the coming of the jet age and the dawning of unmanned aircraft. I think that my course is rather well written.”

Regardless of whether someone is a part-time or full-time student, the advice Cain says he received as a 1L applies equally.

“The advice I pass to anybody who asks me . . . is get eight [or] nine hours of sleep every night and make sure you’re eating well,” he says. “Then, take care of the people around you because the relationships are what will define your success or failure as a law student.”

David After Class

Legal Hero: David Livingston
Most Interesting Law Class: Practicing Law: Successful Strategies
Favorite Meal: My wife’s enchiladas
Words You Live By: Duty, honor, country

Vol. 40 No. 3

Student Lawyer Student Lawyer magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers. It is published four times a year by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Student Lawyer is available online to members of the ABA Law Student Division and to print subscribers.

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