Alumni Spotlight: Thomas Chittum '13

02/21/2020
Thomas Chittum '13

What led you to pursue a legal education?

I was born and raised in West Virginia. As long as I have wanted to be anything, I wanted to be a “Fed.” My dad said getting a law degree would help, so that was my plan. I got the proverbial “foot in the door” as an intern with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division during my undergraduate years at Marshall University. I became a Special Agent when I graduated, but I never stopped wanting to go to law school. It took more than a decade for the stars to align and for me to land in a city with a part-time, evening law program at a respectable university.

How did your professional experience influence your decision to attend law school?

At the IRS, I conducted criminal investigations of tax evasion, money laundering, and other financial crimes. It was interesting and challenging, but not exciting. After only a couple years, I transferred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(ATF), in the Department of Justice. ATF focuses on violent crimes involving violations of federal firearms, explosives, and arson. I found the excitement and the career I dreamed of as a kid! Working for ATF also further piqued my interest in the law. I was fascinated by the nuances n what some may dismiss as simple legal topics.

What surprised you most about law school?

When I applied to Boyd, I only had practical exposure to the area of criminal law. The curriculum included so many topics I thought I would hate. Courses like Family Law and Contracts sounded awful to me. I could not have been more wrong! I loved every single class I took in law school. It was fascinating to learn the rules that govern so many areas of our lives. Obtaining my law degree is one of the greatest things I have ever done. I would do it again in a second. My legal education has made a tremendous difference in my effectiveness at work. It prepared me to analyze and navigate complex issues with far-reaching consequences.

What is a little-known fact about you?

I grew up in Hurricane, West Virginia, but it’s pronounced ‘Hurri-cun’ by locals. There is also a Hurricane, Utah, and it is pronounced the same way. I have been to both towns, making me a member of what I have to assume is a pretty exclusive group!

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