U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan spoke Wednesday at a meeting held jointly by the Temple University College Republicans and Temple Law Republicans at Beasley School of Law.
Meehan, a Temple Law alumnus, talked about his experience as a law student at the university and offered advice to students wishing to pursue a career in law or politics.
“It’s all about getting out the door and getting involved,” Meehan said. “Take your experience and get engaged in something you don’t normally do.”
He said his experience in talking with classmates from different backgrounds and with a range of beliefs helped form his desire to go into public service. He recounted his journey from Temple Law to the U.S. House of Representatives, bouncing from one opportunity to the next until he had made it.
During summers, he volunteered for political campaigns and was drawn in by how they pulled people together from different backgrounds. After, he began practicing as a lawyer and said he never expected to be thrown into the world of politics. His volunteer work helped him to manage campaigns for the state attorney general and the district attorney of Philadelphia.
“I kept saying to myself, ‘If you don’t take this, you’ll never get that kind of an offer again,’” he said. “I never expected or anticipated it, and every opportunity created a network.”
Eventually, he found himself elected as the district attorney of DelawareCounty. From there, he went on to be nominated by the president for the position of U.S. attorney. In 2010, he ran for a the state’s 7th District seat in the House of Representatives and won. He was re-elected in 2012.
“When I got to Congress, because of my experience as a lawyer, I had an appreciation for the nuances of the law. There’s a lot of political play on both sides, but my job is to get [a bill] through and get it passed.”
Ed Furman, a law student who previously worked on Meehan’s campaign, said his speech was encouraging, and other students applauded Meehan’s advice on using opportunities to go out and get the career they want.
TUCR members asked Meehan if he preferred his experience as a lawyer or a congressman. He never regretted the time he spent practicing law, but said, “When I look at a newspaper and see a problem, it’s good knowing I can do something about that.”
Meehan’s ties to Temple can be seen in his voting record in Washington. Recently, he pursued legislation that addressed the security of college campuses around the country. In February he co-sponsored the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act that called for revamped security procedures for reports of domestic violence. The proposed law would have required schools to protect the confidentiality of abuse victims when reporting crimes to campus police.
Meehan said protecting against domestic violence has been one of his main pursuits since he began his tenure as a congressman.
“Violence against women is an issue of vital importance,” he said. “And we’ve changed the entire way the law and the police handle domestic violence.”
Meehan closed his speech by talking about the rigors of working with a Congress plagued by intense partisan division, while still trying to build political relationships.
“We’ve created an environment where politics is lethal,” Meehan said. “One day you’re having dinner with someone, the next day they’re trying to effectively kill you. If we don’t do something about it, we’ll be in a constant battle of win and lose, up and down, always changing sides.”
Joe Gilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.