Tag Archives: Law School

Publishing + Law: Sarah Roth

Sarah Roth is a 2003 graduate of Ball State University, where she earned a B.A. in English, and a 2007 graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

She currently works as Publications Manager of Michigan Judicial Institute (MIJI), and prior to this was a research attorney with MIJI and a law clerk with the Friend of the Court Bureau.

You can connect with her at linkedin.


What was your first job after graduation, and how did that lead you to your current position?

After graduating Ball State, I went on to law school in Michigan. As a law student, I held a variety of part time positions. However, my first full-time position following graduation of both Ball State and law school was as a research attorney with the Michigan Supreme Court’s Michigan Judicial Institute (MJI).

I am currently still employed by MJI and was promoted to the Publications Manager in 2011 where I oversee a team of attorneys who maintain a library of publications designed for trial court judges.

What does a typical week look like for you?

A typical week involves:

  • reviewing e-mails for recently-published cases and amended statutes and court rules
  • culling through all of this information and determining whether and where the new information needs to be included within our library of publications.
  • editing the work of three full-time attorneys
  • overseeing the publication process from start to finish every month
  • overseeing two monthly e-mail distributions
  • serving as liaison with a third party website vendor
  • attending meetings where I advise our director on issues affecting our office as well as our organization.
  • serving as the content manager for our website and ensuring it is functioning and getting updated as necessary

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

I find the fact that our work is serving the judiciary, and ultimately the public, very rewarding. While we directly serve the judiciary, our work helps serve the public by providing more informed and educated judges and court personnel.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out their next step?

Coming out of Ball State, I was sure I wanted to become an editor at a huge publishing firm in NYC – mainly because I thought that was all that was available. Just know there are a ton of options for you, both big and small.

Explore and discover what it is you like to do, do as many internships as possible, and I assure you that something is out there that you will love.

What are the most valuable skills you learned as an English major? How have they helped you post-graduation?

In terms of helping me professionally, the writing skills I developed at Ball State have been second to none. In order to advance my career, writing exercises have been a large part of the interview process, and in order to get the job, I had to outperform all other applicants.

Here is a link to the MJI website if you are interested: https://mjieducation.mi.gov/

"Literature gives life a story": Sean Southern on finding your path

Alum Sean Southern

Alum Sean Southern

Sean Southern graduated from Ball State University in 2000 as double major in English and History. After college, he earned an M.A. in English at DePaul University in 2002 and a J.D. in Law at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law in 2007, where he graduated cum laude.

Following law school, Sean practiced law in both the public and private sectors. First, he joined a large Chicago law firm where he focused his practice on commercial leasing and other real estate matters. Thereafter, Sean represented indigent criminal defendants at the Office of the State Appellate Defender, obtaining favorable decisions on both direct appeal and in collateral proceedings.

Then in 2011 he joined the Office of Professional Development at Indiana University’s School of Law, where he now serves as Associate Director. Sean’s responsibilities include developing and maintaining effective relationships with legal employers and the greater legal community, assisting alumni and students with job search strategies and resume design, and administering the on-campus interview program.

How did your English major lead to your career in law–as well as your job as a career counselor? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition? 

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Alumnus Katie Dittelberger on How Her English Degree Helped Prepared Her for Law School

After earning my bachelor’s at Ball State with an English Major in 2007, I took a year off from school to think about what I wanted to do next career-wise, and headed to Boulder, Colorado to work as a waitress and enjoy the mountains. As I contemplated my future career, I knew I had been shaped by my experiences at Ball State. For instance, my classes with Debbie Mix, Lauren Onkey, Pat Collier, and Jill Christman had exposed me to different ways of thinking about social inequality, which led me to contemplate centering my work around social justice. My time surrounded by the natural beauty of Colorado had also enhanced my belief in the value of environmental sustainability. I decided that becoming a lawyer would be a good way to get to work on some of the issues I care about. I entered Indiana University School of Law with a full scholarship in the fall of 2008 and graduated Summa Cum Laude in the spring of 2011. In law school, I engaged in some public service and social justice-oriented volunteer work, and I worked as a law clerk for a judge, as a law clerk for Earthjustice, and as an intern at The Nature Conservancy during the two summers. Currently, I am studying for the bar examination and plan to move to Denver to pursue a career in nonprofit lawyering.

Studying a variety of methods of thought in my English classes and learning to use reason and logic to write papers prepared me to engage in legal reading and writing in law school. English majors are taught to use both the creative and logical parts of our brains to make arguments, exactly the type of thought necessary for making legal arguments. There is room for creativity in the law, and English majors are perfectly poised to see these grey areas because we are taught to analyze texts from different angles. My English major gave me a new outlook on the world and the tools to take on the challenge of law school, and I am grateful for my time at Ball State.

Guest Post: Whittley Lewis on Her Transition to Law School

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen in the last few months: I was accepted at three law schools, was offered scholarships to attend law school, and graduated with a degree in English from Ball State.  Yep, I’m an English major going into something other than teaching or publishing—the two occupations family and friends assume my major is good for.

My emphasis was in Rhetoric and Writing, which means I’ve learned how to analyze other people’s arguments to find their reasoning strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.  I chose the major because writing and research interest me, and I was hoping that someone at Ball State could show me how to make a career out of doing what I love.  As it turns out, my professors in the Rhetoric and Writing program and an advisor from the Career Services Office helped point me in the direction of law school.

I never thought I would want to be a lawyer because all I could imagine was defending criminals.  Criminal defense is a noble profession, but not exactly my cup of tea.  Then I did some research and found out that for every hour a lawyer spends in the courtroom, there are ten hours researching precedents and writing analyses and opinions.  There are also lawyers who don’t ever have to go into a courtroom, but whose job it is to do all of the background research for a judge.  Moral of the story: there is a lot you can do with a law degree and the basic skills required are the same ones you need as an English student.

When I realized this was a direction I could really enjoy, it was time to apply to law schools.

First, I had to take the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test).  Turns out, being an English major is a great advantage for taking that test.  It’s a six-hour test that involves five sections of questions: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, an essay, and a random section of experimental questions.  We practice at least half of those every day as English majors.  Reading comprehension and essay writing are kind of second nature to us.

The Logical Reasoning section may sound a little scary, but the skills you need for that section are skills very familiar to English students too.  According to the LSAC.org (Law School Admissions Council), this section tests students’ “ability to determine main points of arguments,… ability to find relevant information within a text, [and] ability to analyze and evaluate arguments.” Hey, we can do that!  The only other skill tested in this section is the “ability to apply logic to abstract concepts,” so that was one thing I had to study.

You can also master the Analytical Reasoning section—which is also referred to as ‘logic games’—if you just learn to read what the question is actually asking.  Analytical reasoning on the LSAT is like advanced reading comprehension mixed with common sense and math skills.

To apply to law school I also had to fill out a common application and write a personal statement. These are pretty standard, but I can say that I felt confident that my paperwork would stand out.

My English degree helped me apply to law school, but I also believe that it will help make me a great lawyer.  I chose my major because I love language—there is a power to our words that people often don’t take the time to realize.  I am good at reading texts and analyzing them. In fact, I’m even one of those nerds who thinks research can be fascinating and enjoyable.  Now that I’m embarking on the next step, I’m picking my path for much the same reasons.  My love of language, passion for helping people, and background in English have shaped me into a clear communicator; someone who can analyze not only texts and speeches, but also situations; a researcher; and someone who understands the power of language.  So I head off to law school with all of these weapons in my arsenal.

I never thought I would end up here, but I am confident that I can succeed in my new field because I picked a major I loved in college and worked my tail off at it, and happened to acquire some pretty amazing professional skills along the way.