Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Graduates: Where Are They Now?
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Graduates: Where Are They Now?
By the numbers, ASU Law holds its own as the No. 25 ranked law school nationally and No. 8 among public law schools. The emphasis on student quality outcomes has resulted in consistently high bar pass rates and is a strong factor in the school’s ability to place graduates in real lawyer jobs. ASU Law bar pass and job placement rates are each 20 percent higher than national average.
Beyond the numbers, the school prides itself on delivering a personalized student experience to nurture creative thought and help students pursue their dream jobs. We caught up with three alumni who are also blazing trails that are as unique and out-of-the box as they are themselves.
Ruth Carter: The Legal Rebel
Ruth Carter’s bio starts like this: “I take my work seriously but not myself.” The statement couldn’t be a more appropriate description for Carter. A 2011 JD graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Carter has not only has taken the road less traveled as a lawyer, but has also paved her own road as a social media, blogging and flash mob law guru.
Since graduating, Carter has collected numerous accolades. She won the American Bar Association Legal Rebel award in 2012, published three bestselling books and is a sought-after public speaker. But that’s just a brief list of what Carter has been up to since graduating.
Q: What’s your proudest achievement since graduating?
RC: Establishing more than one way of being successful. I didn’t spend $60,000 on my education to be miserable. I was a mental health therapist before attending law school and I knew that was not a good fit. But I didn’t want to do big law either and I knew the only way to do what I wanted was to pave my own way.
I live and breathe social media, blogging and flash mob law. These are exciting areas of law that are still developing. I like to tinker with the numerous ways to approach these situations and decide what the strongest arguments are in a particular case.
Q: How did attending ASU Law help you prepare for the real world?
RC: I was encouraged to think outside the box. My professors suggested ways of doing things, but ultimately it was my decision on what I wanted to do. Even if I was deviating from the path, I wasn’t discouraged. For example, in my cyberspace law class with Professor Clinton, I had an option to write a paper on blogging even when it wasn’t a topic we were learning about. That deviation taught me to find my specific niche and adapt to make it my own. Externships were also other opportunities to learn. I’m still in contact with the people I’ve developed relationships with and they’ve provided many additional networking opportunities. There’s always a way to pull something from each experience.
Q: What are you most passionate about?
RC: My philosophy is do what’s possible and figure out how you can we do it versus why you shouldn’t do it. How could I make it work?
I also strive to have a renaissance life. I like writing, working, creating, and performing. I pride myself on having a self-crafted life. My life allows for a lot of flexibility, both in my legal and personal life.
Alex LaCroix: The Moonlighting Entrepreneur
In the first 30 seconds of meeting Alex LaCroix, you know he’s not just any lawyer. He has the physique of a football linebacker and you can sense his determination from the moment he starts speaking. That’s surely a reason he was selected as the convocation speaker for his 2012 JD class. It was clear exciting things were in store for LaCroix.
After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona, LaCroix founded a grassroots organization to feed the hungry in Valparaiso, Chile. Upon his return from South America, LaCroix became CEO of a wine industry start-up before ultimately obtaining his law degree in 2012. That same year, Alex joined Jones, Skelton & Hochuli as an associate in the general liability practice group.
While in his first year of law school, he started laying the groundwork for what is now a full-fledge business, called Mental Mojo.
Q: What is Mental Mojo?
AL: I had just started law school and had a newborn and wanted something that would help me maximize my cognitive potential in a safe manner.
Mental Mojo is a patent-pending, nootropic supplement designed by leading formulators/neuro-chemists to maximize cognitive potential with respect to memory, attention and focus. It helps you to focus in a natural way. And I’m its biggest client. I drink Mental Mojo every day, twice a day.
Q: How did you have time to build Mental Mojo and go to school and then work at a big law firm?
AL: It took three years to bring Mental Mojo to market. It is a weekend project for me. You can be a big firm associate and have a passion project. I’m not some single guy who is locked away in his apartment with no friends. I have a family, a child, an active life, and a big firm job.
I think you have one shot at life. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to make a positive impact and affect change. When I see a problem, I figure out first if I can solve it viably and then I try. My passion has always been to be creative and be entrepreneurial. It’s a roller coaster ride being an entrepreneur. My belief has always been that the greatest sin is wasted ability. If you have the ability to do something, you at least need to try.
Q: What’s your proudest achievement so far?
AL: Obviously my proudest achievement has to be my son Luke, he’s five years old and he’s great. My wife and I had him when we were still in law school.
But within a professional context, it’s been being able to carve out my own career path and still have balance. I mean moonlighting has been around forever, but it’s more possible than ever to leverage outside resources with an idea to be a successful entrepreneur. If you build the infrastructure correctly, it doesn’t have to consume your life and you can focus on the fun stuff. Then just be prepared when something goes wrong – and it always will – that’s what you’re going to be doing. But it’s possible, I’m always in the top 10 percent in billable hours at my firm and I work on Mental Mojo.
My proudest achievement is having that balance of big firm career and being a successful entrepreneur working on a passion project. I credit the firm a lot with this, for treating us like we are adults and being a great work environment. My greatest achievement has been being able to balance these things.
Q: What did attending ASU Law help you prepare for in the real world?
AL: First of all, it helped me pass the bar which in turn helped me get a job. ASU Law is one of the best public law schools in the country. Firms in town know that and they like to hire ASU graduates. Having the ASU brand name is huge; I think that’s number one. Number two, I give a lot of credit to Dean Douglas Sylvester. I think he has a very entrepreneurial mindset and he has enabled and encouraged me every step of the way. Number three, I think I would credit – on the day-to-day side – Professor Chad Noreuil. He told me one time you don’t have to, you get to. If you let that sink in, you understand that you don’t have to write this last second motion for summary judgement at 1:30 in the morning, I get to. I get to sit in a high-rise and work alongside accomplished litigators and basically become a skilled trial attorney. Not many people have that opportunity. And if you view things that way – and I do that in every facet of my life now – it becomes a privilege, not a right.
I think the law school did a great job of making me marketable and helping me learn concepts to excel in a both big firm and business environments.
Lynda Anderson-Casey: The Unintended Law School Graduate
Lynda Anderson-Casey was the first in her family to go to college as well as the first to get a master’s degree. Now a successful HR executive, Anderson-Casey is the executive director of human resources at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio.
Originally from Louisville, KY, a series of life events brought her to Phoenix where she was able to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Having received a BA in history from the University of Louisville, Anderson-Casey knew she didn’t have many career choices or paths to grow professionally. The economy was also in recession and it seemed like a perfect time to pursue a post-graduate degree.
Q: What prompted you to get your MLS degree?
LAC: With the recession, I realized I needed to get fresh skills. I knew I could go to ASU if I worked there, so I got a job in the office of the president and was able to go to the school and save a lot of money.
My career prior to that point had been at large corporate law firms as the HR recruiter, so I knew a lot about careers in law and wanted to refresh my skills, but I wanted to stay in HR. The perfect scenario for me was to be able to go to law school and study specifically employment and family-related law, so it (Master of Legal Studies) was really an ideal degree for me. And I was able to go to the W. P. Carey School of Business and take some classes there.
Q: How did your MLS degree help you in your career path?
LAC: There were no master’s degrees or programs in HR that I was aware of so the law school was really a perfect choice for me to be able to get my “street cred.” In my profession, especially the higher level administrators, are lawyers. My current boss is a lawyer and I think a key reason why she hired me was knowing that I had enough training in law and the types of analytical skills you learn from going to law school. Because of the MLS, I’m not the daily practitioner that I once was, now I’m the leader of a team of 25 HR professionals and I’m pretty comfortable attributing that to having the MLS.
Q: What was your most memorable experience at ASU Law?
LAC: One of the best classes I had was a joint class with the W. P. Carey School of Business. It was a joint JD/MLS class on intellectual property. That was the highlight of my curriculum for me to see MBA students with one view and law school students with a more protected view, which made for really interesting dynamics. It was such a unique and innovative learning environment that I had not experienced anywhere else.
HR curriculum doesn’t include analytical skills that you learn in law school. Looking at the whole picture and from different angles was missing in traditional HR curriculum. My experience at ASU Law has helped me get to where I am today.