Don’t worry about where the future may lead, make the most of right now. That was the gist of the message delivered to Catholic University law students on Jan. 24 by Michael J. Bidwill, Class of 1990 and a current member of the law school’s Board of Visitors.
Bidwill knows as well as anyone how unpredictable career paths can be. He worked hard in law school preparing to excel in the courtroom and spent the first six years of his career as a federal prosecutor in Arizona.
But the “family business,” ownership of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, eventually beckoned. Today, Bidwill is president of the successful professional football team.
Invited as the featured speaker for the First Year Student and Alumni Mentor Reception, Bidwill’s 30-minute chat was in equal parts pep talk and warm reminiscing.
“These were three of the best years of my life,” he mused. “This school, being in Washington, D.C., is so important. The great externships you get here, the great education I got here inside and outside the classroom…If I could do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same.”
As an NFL team president, Bidwill has been obliged to learn many things not taught in law school, from marketing to customer service to applicable municipal codes for building a new stadium.
His ability to learn on the job, he assured his student audience, was based largely on the skills he learned while attending CUA Law.
“You’re going to be challenged in life and challenged in your careers. This is exactly what you want,” said Bidwill. “You want to be able to clear those hurdles and you’re going to learn those things here like I did and like my friends did.”
A good portion of the sports executive’s remarks were directed to first year students, a time he still clearly recalled more than 23 years later.
“You might be a little freaked out about first year, don’t be, just don’t be. Just keep you head down and keep working at it. This is hard work – that’s never hurt anybody. Stay positive, enjoy the people around you, and enjoy this experience,” he advised.
Bidwill spoke emphatically about the importance of reaching out, making new friends and building relationships during the law school years. Proof of his thesis was spread around the law school’s atrium, where several of his 1990 classmates gathered to listen to his remarks and welcome their old friend back.