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Her Path to Law Began With Engineering

Emily Hostage (ECE ’09, MS ’09)

Emily Hostage (EE ’09, MS ’09)


The path to law school doesn’t commonly begin with an undergraduate education in electrical engineering.

But Emily Hostage (EE ’09, MS ’09), a student at Harvard Law School, believes that her non-traditional background helped give her an edge when she applied.

“Law schools like Harvard have an incredibly diverse student body so it helps to have something that makes you stand out,” said Hostage. “I do know some other law students with an engineering background, but it’s pretty unique.”

So far, Hostage is really enjoying the experience that includes both “an incredible amount of reading” and “a wonderful and enriching environment.” Over the summer, she worked for a law firm in San Francisco, Calif., before returning to Cambridge.

“It’s a lot of work, but I feel very prepared,” she said. “The logical and analytical background I gained at BU helped get me ready for here.”

Though studying law is not a typical path for an EE graduate, engineering will still come in handy for Hostage. When she graduates in 2012, she hopes to work with engineers in a legal context.

“Most engineers like to stay in research and development, and it’s hard for lawyers to understand their technologies and develop contracts without an engineering background,” she said. “I would like to help engineers make a clearer transition into the business world.”

Hostage first began thinking about law as a junior at Boston University. Her roommate that year, a pre-law major, suggested she go into patent law.

From there, the idea was in Hostage’s head. As a junior and senior, she worked closely with her thesis advisor, Carlo De Luca, who she says provided her with personal and professional guidance when she was thinking about law school.

“Emily was a truly exceptional student,” De Luca said. “She is blessed with a curiosity for all things accompanied by an intellectual ferociousness that is delightful to see unfold.”

Though Hostage sometimes credits De Luca for steering her toward law school, he will only take credit for pointing her in the right direction.

Said De Luca: “The glory of her success is all hers; the pleasure of watching her succeed is all mine.”

Rachel Harrington (
October 2010