“King Lear” is arguably one of Shakespeare’s greatest and goriest tragedies. An aging monarch is conflicted about which of his daughters to leave in charge of his kingdom. They each plead their case, and when that doesn’t work eye gouging, throat slitting and poisoning ensue. It’s a worst-case scenario for succession and the perfect subject for a Wills, Trusts and Estates class. Law student Abby Howd (J.D. ’19) saw it as an opportunity to use her theater degree in law school.
“In both theater and law, you have to constantly think on your feet. You never know what your other ‘cast members’ are going to do, so you need to know their lines and your own to prepare for all possible mishaps. It also gives my litigation style a dramatic flair that I’m told juries will enjoy.”
In professor Samuel Donaldson’s class, Howd had convinced her class mates to stage a performance of “King Lear” to fulfill the experiential component of the course. Donaldson admits he was impressed.
“Abby Howd is a once-in-a-career kind of student,” Donaldson said. “Amidst a sea of great performances, her portrayal of the Earl of Gloucester stood out for its energy and commitment. But, what impressed me most was how all of her colleagues in the cast and crew praised her work behind the scenes. It’s one thing to be smart and talented in your own right, but the ability to bring out those same qualities in one’s colleagues is truly exceptional.”
Bringing out the best in others is what drew Howd to a career in law. After graduating from college, she worked as an administrative assistant at a law firm and got to see the ins and outs of practice. At work, she listened to the Serial podcast about unsolved murders, which made her want to work with the Georgia Innocence Project. She interned there the summer after her first year of law school.
“I never imagined myself being an attorney before law school,” Howd said. “The Georgia Innocence Project initially confirmed my love of the law and helping people. Seeing how my work there brought much needed hope to the wrongfully convicted and their families both fulfilled me and made me believe in myself and my abilities.”
She continued her advocacy work as an intern in the school’s Investor Advocacy Clinic. She was also one of two lead articles editors for the Georgia State Law Review executive board, a graduate research assistant for the first-year writing course, and a two-time CALI Award recipient.
Through it all, she never forgot her stage roots.
“My theater background helped me figure out that I wanted to litigate,” said Howd. “In almost every interview I had, they either asked me about my theater background or assumed I wanted to litigate because of it. It was like a constant sign showing me which direction I should take my career.”
Written by Cat Gavrilidis