Why did you choose to attend UNI? What factors influenced your reason for studying your major?
When looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to play soccer, stay in the Midwest, and be at a medium-sized school. UNI was the perfect fit! You get the benefits of a large public university while at the same time receiving one-on-one attention with professors and administrators. I never felt like merely a number. My professors knew my name, and they were always available for office hours.
I double-majored in Business Economics and Spanish. I wanted to major in an area that would make me a better thinker and would also provide opportunities outside the legal field. After taking some of the core business classes, I realized economics was my favorite–a mix of math, reason, and critical thinking. My Spanish classes consisted of a very different type of learning. Those courses pushed me to think about language, communication, and culture, which sharpened my understanding of English and ultimately improved my writing.
What factors influenced your decision to go to law school?
I always loved to read and write, to think and discuss. In addition to my interests, a high school internship at a law firm and discussions with practicing attorneys during undergrad solidified my desire to go to law school. I don’t have any attorneys in my family, so the legal world was new to me. The more I met with lawyers and learned about law school, the more confident I was in pursuing this profession.
What do you do in your current position? What do you enjoy about it?
I am currently a term law clerk for the Honorable Eric C. Tostrud in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. I will be doing another one-year term clerkship next year for the Honorable Steven M. Colloton in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Des Moines, Iowa. As a law clerk, I assist the judge with research and writing based on the issues before the court. I work on both criminal and civil cases.
My favorite part of my job is the constant learning. Not only do I research a wide variety of issues on a weekly basis, but I also get to see talented attorneys in practice, from their briefs to arguments in court to litigation strategy. Clerking offers a unique experience to view cases from a neutral perspective and to wrestle with the legal merits of many different types of cases.
How did UNI’s pre-law program help you prepare for and apply to law school?
I received incredible mentorship and guidance from UNI’s pre-law advisors. Throughout the entire process–exploring law schools, drafting my application materials, the final decision-making–I was supported and encouraged. For example, I had consistent one-on-one meetings where we talked about my goals at a high-level and also got into the nitty-gritty details of application materials, timelines, finances, and career opportunities. I cannot speak highly enough of my experience with UNI’s pre-law advisors, especially as someone who does not have attorneys in my family.
How did your major help prepare you for your current role? What skills are you still using today?
My Business Economics major prepared me for law school and my current job by developing my analytical thinking. It taught me to think beyond the face of an answer and to dig into the why. Specifically, economics trained me to synthesize situations with multiple moving parts and to anticipate the subsequent effects. My Spanish major focused on articulating meaning, which is the essence of communication. In a job that so heavily involves writing, the ability to structure words and sentences in a way that most clearly represents a thought is a very valuable skill.
What is a memorable part of your studies or participation within your major?
My favorite aspect of both my majors was the small class sizes, which led to tight-knit relationships. My professors became mentors and my classmates became friends.
I also took part in the travel opportunities that accompanied my majors. I studied abroad in Spain for a summer, and I traveled to Chicago with the Economics department for a weekend event. There are so many ways to get involved outside of the normal classroom!
What advice would you give to students currently interested in the same major and/or thinking about going to law school?
My biggest piece of advice is to reach out to attorneys and law students as soon as you are even slightly interested in law school–grab coffee, get lunch, etc. The more people you can talk with beforehand, the better idea you will have of what law school and the legal profession looks like. Additionally, you will have a better overall understanding of the landscape of the legal profession, types of law schools, and legal career paths. There are so many more ways to use a law degree than I initially thought.