Learn how real students navigate their way through the law school admissions process and law school itself with our What is Graduate School Really Like? series.
Meet Ashton, a rising 2L at Michigan State University (MSU) College of Law
Ashton, thank you for sharing your story with us!
I understand you were a STEM major in college. What inspired you to switch your focus and pursue a legal career?
Ashton: As a college freshman, I did not know what I wanted to do with my career. I majored in Applied Mathematics and Spanish because those were two subjects I excelled in, but then realized at some point that I would need a job after graduation and that I did not want to apply to grad school in either of those subjects. I began looking into careers that math majors go into and law happened to be in the top five.
What was the most challenging aspect of the law school application process? How did you face this challenge?
Ashton: I would not say that any part of the process is necessarily “challenging.” The only bit of advice I would give to anyone going through the process is to ask your professors for recommendations early and give them a date that you need them by.
How did you prepare for the LSAT? Was there a course, book, or website that you found particularly helpful?
Ashton: Standardized tests have always been easier for me than others, so I did not feel like I needed to pay $1000+ for a prep course. However, I did go to Steve Schwartz’s website. He has a list of practice test books and a guide to purchase. I believe I spent $10 on a 3-month study schedule. It was helpful for keeping me on track.
How many law schools did you apply to? How was MSU a good fit for you?
Ashton: I was planning to apply to Penn State and Rutgers if I did not get into MSU. I applied to MSU super early in case I didn’t get in, but I did end up being accepted with a great scholarship. MSU was my top choice because that was the first school I visited before I even took the LSAT. The office was welcoming and already seemed extremely invested in helping me to achieve my goals. I got a personal phone call from the Director of Admissions upon being accepted and it made a huge difference.
Let’s talk about electives. Do first-year students take electives? What are you most looking forward to?
Ashton: First-year law students unfortunately do not have any electives. Next year, I am interested in taking Patent, Copyright, and Trademark Law. I am not sure I’ll be able to fit them all in next year, but I do plan to take them all at some point. MSU offers a variety of interesting electives every year.
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities on or off campus?
Ashton: This year I joined four registered student organizations: Phi Alpha Delta, Women’s Law Caucus, Latino Law Society, and the Intellectual Property Law Society. Over the next year I will be participating in a clinic, moot court, and I am currently in the application process for Law Review. Fingers crossed!
Does your school provide opportunities for law students to engage in pro bono work? What are the MSU clinics?
Ashton: Absolutely. There are several clinics here – I believe there are 9 or so. I am participating in the First Amendment Clinic this fall, in which I will be placed at a high school where I will be teaching students about copyright and other first amendment issues. Some of the other clinics are Civil Rights, Tax, Chance at Childhood, and Intellectual Property.
Congratulations on being among the winners of the MSU Social Media Contest! Can you share a bit about this competition?
Ashton: Thank you! I really didn’t know what to expect going into the contest, all I knew was that I didn’t have anything to lose since I’m on social media all the time anyway. It turns out that the contest is what you make of it. At the beginning of the contest period, participants let the Career Services Office (CSO) know which platforms they would be using. I chose to use Twitter and LinkedIn. The competition is judged on building connections, generating engagements with posts, and marketing yourself online professionally. It was actually a lot of fun.
What types of career services are available on campus?
Ashton: MSU Law has a fantastic Career Services Office. Every advisor is prompt and eager to assist students. Additionally, the office has a website with job listings, internships, and information about on-campus interviews.
Can you share a bit about the process of applying for internships? What aspects of your upcoming internships are you most excited about?
Ashton: I expected to have fewer opportunities offered to me than I did, so I applied to close to 50 internships. I was offered 10-12 interviews, but only went to maybe 6-7 of them. I was offered all of them and had the best problem: choosing where I wanted to intern. A better problem to have but no less stressful. I am excited for the experiences I will gain and am open to anything and everything.
Summer is around the corner. Where will you be interning this summer?
Ashton: After I return from my study abroad in Japan, I will have two internships. I will be an intern in Judge Aquilina’s office at the 30th Circuit Court in Ingham County and I will also be an intern at the Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection center on MSU’s campus. I can’t wait!
Tell us about your study experience in Japan!
Ashton: It is only my fourth day here, but I am loving it so far! I think I finally beat the jet lag. I’m taking two courses which total five credits: Japanese Legal Studies and Law and Religion. Each class has no more than seven people and it has been a wonderful week so far. Traveling is something I love to do but I unfortunately have not had much of an opportunity to do so until the last couple of years. As a group we have visited Kiyomizu-dera, which is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, and we were able to see Aoi Matsuri, one of the three major festivals in Kyoto. I plan to spend some time in Osaka, Hiroshima, and possibly Tokyo over the next few weeks.
Where do you see yourself professionally, in 5 years from now? Which type of law would you most like to practice, and in what setting?
Ashton: That is quite the question. In 5 years, I would like to be in a firm setting in Grand Rapids, MI. However, I am still exploring opportunities and I am open to new experiences. As of right now, I am interested in Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law.
If you could share one message with applicants at the start of their law school journey, what would it be?
Ashton: No one else knows what they’re doing either. Even the people that don’t stop talking.
Do you have questions for Ashton? Questions for us? Do you want to be featured in our next What is Graduate School Really Like? post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
You can learn more about Ashton by following her on Twitter.
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• The Law School Application Series, a blog series
• Law School Admissions: What You Need to Know, a podcast episode