Albert Einstein once said, “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with the big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” For Andrew Weyl, the debate between the facts (money) and personal drive (going to law school) was difficult; however, his passion won, leading him to a career practicing and teaching law.
“The first week of law school was a shock to me when I saw the cost of tuition,” he said. “I had serious thoughts about spending that kind of money and having no guarantee of a legal job.”
The moment Weyl enrolled at Gustavus Adolphus College in 1988, a liberal arts, Lutheran-based school in St. Peter, Minnesota, he knew his future would include working in the field of political science and/or law.
While focused on his academics, Weyl participated in campus organizations such as Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honorary fraternity where he served as president his senior year, and he actively helped to start an International Business Club. Balancing academics and extracurricular activities, he also worked three jobs at one point. However, no matter how busy his schedule, Weyl attended Chapel from 10:00-10:25 each day, saying, “Today it might seem hokey to attend religious services in college, but it provided me we with the opportunity to strengthen my faith and helped me find my way if something troubling occurred.”
Fun Facts about Andrew:
- He has run 20 marathons, 47 half marathons and many 5 and 10K races
- He is active in high altitude climbing and has climbed several of the Seven Summits
- He was going to climb Mount Everest but after an earthquake struck Nepal, he was turned back from the base camp
Graduating with honors in 1992, he held off on attending law school, and instead, found a job working in constituent services for Congressman Tim Penny. Working in the local district office, Weyl was involved in local interest projects, one of which he is most proud. Helping a Korean War veteran retrieve the medals he earned, Weyl worked with the U.S. Army to verify the man’s records and eligibility before ensuring the man received his medals. The town held a large event to publicly honor the veteran. “His tears upon being awarded his medals struck me with the realization that the effort I put into the task truly made an impact on his life,” he said.
During this time, Weyl enrolled at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to earn his MBA. Discovering one of his friends was taking many of the same courses, it provided a built-in support system and collaborator for various group projects.
One of the benefits to earning his MBA was having the opportunity “to work on projects for local businesses and nonprofit entities,” he said. “We didn’t simply study business, we actively engaged in projects, which were then used to make an actual impact.”
In 1995, Weyl decided it was time to attend law school, but prior to enrolling, he needed to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Not wanting to alert others to his decision, he studied in secret. The day of the test, after completing one section, he debated walking out and not completing the exam; however, he continued and earned a score that placed him in the top 25 percent in the nation.
Choosing to attend Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, he appreciated the similar environment to Gustavus. Receiving sticker shock at the price of tuition, he went to the Registrar’s Office after one week, filled out the necessary paperwork and decided to quit. “I told her there was no way I wanted to spend the kind of money it was going to cost and I wanted out while I could still withdraw,” he said. After “sleeping on it,” he went back the next day and told her he “wasn’t giving up so easily.”
Finding law school to be much more difficult than he had anticipated, he admits to spending 15 hours each day in class or preparing for a class. “I would fall asleep at night reading and wake up during the night with pages stuck to my face,” he said. During his second year, he worked 20 hours each week and not a minute less for the governor’s office at the capitol, saying, “I don’t think I was ever so poor in my life. I managed to live on $35 of groceries per month. When I finished law school, I had lost 40 pounds and weighed in at 139 pounds.”
Through his work with the governor’s office, Weyl helped to push through legislation on behalf of the governor, which focused on the issues of education and technology. From speaking to interest groups, schools and corporations, to attending committee hearings and working with state legislators, his experience proved to be valuable.
Graduating from law school in 1998, he received his diploma only to discover the Registrar had slipped the papers he had initially signed to withdraw into the diploma cover. “It was a means of showing me the result of not giving up,” he said.
For years, Weyl worked on private legal matters before moving to Florida in 2004. Discovering Hodges, which was known as International College at the time, Weyl applied for a teaching position on the recommendation of a former professor. After five minutes interviewing with Dr. Jan Brock, he was offered the position in 2004.
A professor in Hodges’ legal studies program, Weyl’s biggest challenge is keeping each course relevant to real-life legal scenarios. While it is important to provide students with the theory of law, he works to keep his courses interesting and as relevant as possible.
“Providing real-world experiences and explaining how the material each week is relevant to the legal profession helps to keep students engaged in the topic,” he explained. “I like to provide hypotheticals for students as an opportunity to apply the topics discussed for the week. Students enjoy having an opportunity to take a break from lectures and appreciate having to apply what they have learned. “
Passionate about his work, Weyl spends half of the year teaching at Hodges and the other half teaching at the University of Wollongong School of Law in Australia, and although he misses being able to provide legal advice, his ability to teach keeps his interest in law active.
Teaching in Hodges’ legal studies program for more than 10 years, Weyl has witnessed the successes of Hodges students who graduated from the legal studies programs and excelled in law school. “They credit that success with the curriculum at Hodges University,” he said. Acknowledging the advisory board for their guidance in providing a solid, advanced and well-taught program, he and his fellow professors possess more than 20 years of professional experience providing legal education to the community.
“The professors in the program know what it takes to succeed in the legal profession and tailor their courses to the needs of our students who choose to enter the legal profession as law clerks, legal assistants, paralegals and lawyers,” he said.
“The work of a legal professional can truly make a difference. Each day and each client provide something new. Nearly everything learned in a legal studies degree program can be used in a person’s daily life, so the degree has both personal and professional benefits.”