An Amazing Experience

Nicole Harkin, '05

Nicole Harkin (’05) attended college at Purdue University where she studied Political Science, German, and Geology. After graduating from Purdue, Nicole pursued opportunities working in government oversight. “I knew at Purdue I was interested in graduate school, but I didn't know what to study. After graduation, I interned for Senator Conrad Burns, R-MT, and then eventually landed as an investigator at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). While working there, I wrote a report about a uranium mill tailings pile outside of Moab, Utah and as part of my work I read Riverkeepers by former Pace Law professor Robert F. Kennedy. That book set me on the track to Pace."

“My time at Pace was an amazing experience filled with so many different opportunities.” As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism.    Nicole also had the opportunity to serve as a legal intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. “It was so hands on. I became familiar with case investigation, trial preparation, document review, and legal research.”

Despite having a myriad of positive experiences in law school, Nicole describes herself as “the rare law student who realized very soon after starting law school that I did not want to work as a lawyer. The training I received remained relevant to my plans: improved critical thinking skills and excellent writing practice. I continued with law school and am pleased that I did because of the opportunities the experience afforded me.”

At the top of Nicole’s list of experiences while at Pace include traveling with the environmental law program to Brazil and the support and encouragement she received from the Law School, in particular from Professor Linda Fentiman and late staff member Vielka Holness to apply for the Fulbright two years in a row. “The community feeling at Pace Law is not just a feeling, but a reality. I felt supported in all the choices I made as a student about the various paths I wanted to pursue.”

Nicole also fondly remembers her time spent organizing the Environmental Moot Court Competition with a committee of other students. “Today, I remain close friends with the same people who I was on the committee with! It was a wonderful experience that we all still talk about and have in common.”

After graduating from Pace, Nicole spent an additional year in Berlin as a Bosch Fellow researching German’s Freedom of Information Act. She found the work fascinating and loved the experience of living in Germany.

After returning from Germany, Nicole was selected to be a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). She worked for the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. as an Intelligence Analyst and then Sanctions Investigator. Then, in 2008, she obtained a position as an analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office in D.C. “These positions allowed me to focus on the aspects of government and the law that I enjoyed – research, investigating, analysis, and writing.”

It was in 2012, that Nicole made the jump to full-time small business owner. She photographs families on the weekend and during the week writes. “Writing a book was something that was always a long-term goal of mine. It is a full-time job and once I made the switch to treating it as such I was able to publish my first book in June of 2017 - Tilting, A Memoir. And, currently, I am writing a murder mystery set in Berlin, Death in Berlin.” You can read the first chapter of Nicole’s memoir, Tilting, at

Nicole is also a small business owner. She describes herself as a natural-light photographer. “I love capturing memories for people – families, couples, individuals. Each shoot I do is unique in its own way.” You can look at some of Nicole's photography at

In her spare time, Nicole enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and coffee! As for advice to current and future law students, “Even if you feel like you may have made a mistake attending law school or a traditional attorney career is not for you – think it through carefully. The way you learn to think during law school is unique – you will learn analytical skills that you could not learn otherwise.”