June 11, 2020
Though he was a bit older than many of his fellow students, David Witkin ’20 believes pursuing a degree McGeorge School of Law was the best decision he ever made.
A father of three sons with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Sacramento State, the Elk Grove resident has completed his JD and is now studying for the bar exam.
It’s the latest in a series of extraordinarily difficult challenges he has faced over the past four years: Witkin is the first-ever McGeorge student to earn concurrent dual degrees — in law and public policy — a course of study that required an additional year in school, extra units and many grueling hours of study.
“I’ve been through a lot of years of school, but in terms of professional and personal growth, law school is incomparable,” Witkin said.
Witkin impressed his professors and peers alike, achieving final four status in the college’s annual Global Lawyering Skills program competition as a second-year law student. The competition involved brief writing, motions, oral arguments, rebuttals — virtually all the lawyerly skills required of attorneys on the job.
“It was pretty exciting to be selected in the final four,” he said. “There were a lot of talented advocates to compete against.”
In his final year, Witkin earned Appellate Advocate of the Year, McGeorge’s highest moot court honor.
Witkin decided to attend law school after working full-time as an administrator for a University Avenue law firm in Sacramento.
“I liked legal documents, enjoyed reading them, and the firm said they would sponsor me for the LSAT test and support my decision to go to law school,” he said.
He chose to attend McGeorge specifically because “it’s the most prestigious law school in the area,” and because, with school-aged children, he didn’t want to relocate the family.
Witkin said he particularly enjoyed Professor John Sprankling’s classes in property and space law and wills and trusts.
“He is like a walking encyclopedia who not only knows everything about the class materials but also knows history, science, current events and random gossip,” Witkin said. “It’s unbelievable to see how much he knows and how good he is about sharing his knowledge with students.”
Constitutional law and politics are his favorite subjects, Witkin said. In the short term he has accepted a job with a federal judge and is open to relocating in the future as he seeks long-range opportunities.
Studying the law meant a dramatic adjustment period at the beginning, Witkin said, as he grew used to the hours and intensity the coursework required.
“Everyone goes through it, and you either sink or swim,” he said. “It made me a vastly different student.”
Law students have to be articulate and direct, Witkin said, skills that take a lot of practice and improves them in every way.
“I came in as a pretty good writer but there is no comparison to my skills now,” he adds. “I don’t think there’s a better education in writing available anywhere else. You also become really comfortable with public speaking.