Becoming a lawyer was always Haley Metteauer’s goal, but it was some of the classes and faculty in the Department of Agricultural Economics that confirmed she was headed in the right direction.
Metteauer ’18 graduated from the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics with an emphasis on policy and economic analysis.
After attending Texas A&M, Metteauer attended law school at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and became an attorney. She is an associate attorney at Kennedy Sutherland LLP, where she interned for one year and has now been working for the past two years.
At Kennedy Sutherland LLP, Metteauer serves as outside counsel to several financing institutions, small businesses and real estate developers. Through this role, she also serves as the editorial director and head of professional development for a membership-based cybersecurity and data governance organization — the Association of Data and Cyber Governance.
We asked her about her experiences in the Department of Agricultural Economics, pursuing her goal of being a lawyer and her career experiences and interests.
How did you become interested in policy?
An inspiring, to say the least, teacher in high school strongly encouraged me to join the debate team. Each year, my teammate and I would receive a prompt that was a hypothetical scenario with real-life events and implications. We had to analyze the prompt and establish our position using a substantial amount of supporting research. Then we would present that position, or argue against an opponent’s position, in front of a judge. I recognized how the components of this process were very much in keeping with legislative policymaking.
Through my efforts on the debate team, I also learned I had an aptitude for communications, writing and advocacy, and I chose a profession that would allow me to use those skills. Work can be very hard, and it’s a lot harder if whatever career you choose doesn’t naturally suit you or give you the opportunity to use your strengths.
How was your experience at Texas A&M?
The curriculum was interesting and challenging. I have always valued the courses I took in the Agricultural Economics department and those I took at the Mays Business School. I learned a lot. But what really stood out for me was how friendly and helpful my professors, academic advisors, teaching assistants and fellow classmates were. They sincerely wanted to help me succeed.
What classes or experiences stood out for you during your time in the Department of Agricultural Economics?
That would have to be Dr. Fred Boadu’s introductory law class. This course confirmed for me that a career in law was absolutely the right direction for me. Dr. Boadu expected you to be prepared and ready to articulate about the reading materials or class discussions. He taught me the value of over-preparation and of admitting quickly when you do not know an answer. I have carried those lessons into my career and personal life.
His class also allowed me to hone my writing and communications skills. My time as a student in his class prepared me for my law curriculum like no other, and he showed me and the other students far more kindness than I could have ever hoped for from a law school professor.
Another exceptional experience during my time at Texas A&M was when I went to Scotland on a study abroad course with Dr. Dusty Menzies. This experience of visiting farms, distilleries and other agriculture and agribusiness operations vastly expanded my knowledge of the real-life applications of agricultural production.
What was your first job after graduating from Texas A&M?
My first job after graduation was for Congressman Will Hurd’s reelection campaign. I worked for his campaign just before beginning law school in fall 2018. I learned about the opportunity to work with him through my academic advisor, Amy Connolly.
The summer working for Congressman Hurd was very enjoyable and has been a conversation starter during many law school events and interviews. It also gave me a new perspective as to the development of policymaking. I had learned a lot about the behind the scenes of policymaking during my trip to Washington, D.C., with my fellow agricultural economics classmates, but to be a part of so many strategy meetings to support Congressman Hurd was definitely an eye-opener.
What was the most challenging aspect of becoming a lawyer?
Definitely the bar exam. I very much enjoyed my law school experience, despite the rigorous workload, long nights that seemed to never be quite long enough, and the pains I developed in every joint from leaning over my books for hours on end. Law school was always my goal, so I made sure that I remained steadfast in my objective of becoming a lawyer, whatever it took. The bar exam, however, put my efforts during law school to shame. It was a test — and an experience — like no other.
What are some of the finance-related activities in which you are still involved?
As outside counsel for financial institutions and companies that conduct banking as a service, I have to understand the basics of the financial world. Much of the knowledge and skills I developed or honed during my time in the Department of Agricultural Economics still come in handy.
As someone who enjoys traveling, what have been some of your travel experiences?
I have traveled as much and as often as possible since I got to Texas A&M. My trip to the U.K. during a study abroad course with Dr. Menzies in the Department of Agricultural Economics really set my love for travel ablaze. Since graduating, I have used breaks from law school and work to explore Texas, Arizona, Colorado and California. I’ve already crossed off many items on my bucket list, but I’m certain I’m nowhere near finished.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give others on pursuing their goals?
Never close yourself off to any opportunity. You owe it to yourself to push the boundaries of who you have always been and what you have always preferred. Life is all about growth, and no one has ever grown by staying exactly the same.