DeClue Negotiates Winding Road to Legal Career

Deona DeClue, Law Class of ‘13, received the Rubey M. Hulen Memorial ­Scholarship, making “the dream of attending law school a reality.” (David Kilper)

Deona DeClue encountered many twists and turns along her career path. One led to a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, another to a master’s degree in economics, and yet another to a client representative position at IBM in Chicago.

During her time at IBM, DeClue faced her career path’s most significant twist — or as she calls it a “quarter-life crisis.” Her older sister, Cheryl, passed away in her sleep a few months after DeClue started her job. “Cheryl was an exceedingly giving person, always sacrificing to bring joy to those around her,” DeClue says. “Her unexpected passing truly made me re-evaluate the time I had ­available, what I loved, and the legacy I wanted to leave behind.”

Although DeClue enjoyed her work, she was inspired by her sister’s life. “I wanted to directly benefit others and have a positive influence on those around me, so a law degree seemed well-suited to my interest,” she says.

After receiving the Rubey M. Hulen Memorial Scholarship, she decided to attend Washington University. “The scholarship made the dream of ­attending law school a reality for me,” says ­DeClue, Law Class of ’13.

“I hope to become a well-rounded lawyer, one who pursues excellence in the legal field and works with a strong commitment to serving the community.”

—Deona DeClue

She felt her background prepared her well for the legal field. “Engineering and economics taught me how to dissect and analyze problems,” she says. “In engineering and economics, you dissect formulas and algorithms; in law school, it’s legal theories and precedent.”

DeClue credits several law professors for inspiring her and helping her navigate law school. ­“Professor Brian Tamanahaencouraged me to ‘think systematically’; Professor Daniel Mandelker taught me that legal remedies were applicable to real world issues; Professor Jo ­Ellen ­Lewis helped develop my legal writing skills and served as a guide through the law school process; and ­Professor ­Karen Tokarz showed me how to approach any ­negotiation,” she says.

An active member of the university community, DeClue serves as co-president of the Real Estate and Economic Development Law Society, vice president of the Public Interest Law Society, staff editor of the Global Studies Law Review, and a member of the Regional ­Negotiation Team and the National Moot Court Team.

In summer 2012, DeClue begins her second ­internship at Thompson Coburn in St. Louis. She received the firm’s Thomas F. Eagleton Scholarship in ­recognition of her academic achievements.

“I hope to become a well-rounded lawyer, one who ­pursues excellence in the legal field and works with a strong commitment to serving the community around her,” DeClue says.

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