2L explores global legal system through Moritz’s summer programs
Law school has done more for 2L Lauren Sabo than simply open to the door to a career in law. It has afforded her the opportunity to travel to and study on several different continents, making connections and gaining greater insight into the multitude of ways law is practiced around the globe.
This summer, Sabo traveled to China as part of the Moritz College of Law’s first class to attend the Southwest University of Political Science and Law Summer Program, before flying back to the states to take part in the College’s Washington, D.C., Summer Program where she worked in the Office of General Counsel in the Department of Education.
“I think being able to work with all types of people is a great benefit of the experience, but also learning to really take it upon yourself to make connections. You hear this all the time in law school, but I feel like the best part was hearing from the attorneys I was working for and being supervised by about their experiences and how they got where they are and being excited about something and saying ‘Yes I want to be part of this project,’ and then they really immerse you in the work,” she said. “One of the main things I would tell people about the D.C. program is if you have any inkling that you would like to live or work in D.C. at any point in time I would highly recommend doing something like the D.C. program. That’s where you’re going to meet people and get the experience, and it’s different than just flying in for a short weekend or trip.”
Leaving right after the end of the school year, Sabo and four of her fellow classmates spent two weeks in China, meeting law students from other institutions and learning about different legal systems around the globe. Moritz was one of only a handful of American law schools to attend the program, which hosted law schools from all over the world. The program also put Sabo in a place where she could do some traveling before heading back to the U.S. to start her externship in the capital. One of the more memorable excursions she made during her time there, she said, was spending the day as a panda keeper.
“Two of us actually went to Chengdu and got to be panda keepers for a day. It was amazing. Part of our job was to feed the pandas so we made Ohio State shaped Block O panda cakes, which are like a treat for them. Everyone else was just making balls so we decided to shape them into Ohio State shapes,” she said with a laugh.
After a two-day break following the completion of the program, Sabo headed straight to D.C. to join other more of her classmates for the Washington, D.C., Summer Program. As a former multi-intensive special education teacher, she said it was fascinating getting to work with experts in the education field who have a direct hand in creating and implementing polices that affect students and teachers nationwide. She was even more surprised, however, when they turned to her as an expert reference when considering the implications of certain changes or additions to current legislation.
“At one point we were in this room working on this career and technical education bill that’s going through Congress right now for some updates and reauthorization, and they sat there looking at me saying ‘You’re the expert on this,’ because I was a career and technical educational teacher along with being a special education teacher. How funny is it that in this room they were literally looking to me as the expert when I’m not the lawyer,” she said.
“It was interesting because as a teacher I implemented this program on the ground. So they brought me in to be insight and to tell them that sure this is what’s in the bill but the reality is this is what’s really happening in the classroom.”
In addition to working in the Department of Education, Sabo was one of several Moritz students that worked alongside Professor Dakota Rudesill on Capitol Hill to generate support for a congressional clerkship bill, which would create program similar to the judicial clerkship program. “We met with a lot of staffers and different senators and did a lot of work to get that rolling,” she said. “And our work paid off, it’s going to be introduced on the floor of the Senate and we hope to see it passed within the year.”
Sabo is a joint-degree candidate currently earning her J.D. and an M.A. in public policy from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. She is also finishing up a master’s degree in biology, which she plans to graduate with this December. As part of that biology degree, she spent several weeks in Australia after finishing the D.C. program studying the Great Barrier Reef. There she said she stayed with a student she befriended at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law Summer Program at the start of the summer.
“How funny is that,” she said, “I thought ‘I just saw you in China a couple of weeks ago and now I’m half way across the world again and you’re hosting us and showing us around your town while we’re studying here for another program.’ I think that was one of the best parts of the summer was getting to meet people and to experience other parts of the world and other cultures.”
Sabo said she attributed the expansive programming, opportunities, and flexibility and understanding of the professors here at Oho State to allowing her to be able to participate in so many educational opportunities over the last several months.
“I think what I really realized too, going to Ohio State, after having looked at a lot of schools, not that you don’t have similar opportunities I’m sure at other places, but I don’t think I would have been able to make it all work and fit it all together if I wasn’t going to a school like Ohio State. If you have the opportunity you should go for it,” she said.
Sabo has also taken advantage of the many other organizations and programs right here on campus to help further prepare her for a career in the law. She is a Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh fellow and a member of the Moritz Board Fellows Program, where she serves on the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) board for Franklin County.
Sabo described her path to law school as non-traditional. In college she said she knew she eventually wanted to pursue a degree in law, but first wanted to find her passion for it before embarking on a legal education. After earning her master’s degree in education, she worked for several years as special education teacher in Colorado. That experience helped her find her driving reason to attend law school.
“I looked into law school my senior year of college and I really just wasn’t sold on why I wanted to go. I realized I wanted to do that someday, but not right now. So I served as a multi-intensive special education teacher for four years, working with students with more significant special needs. I got to see a lot of different aspects of the field and I thought, ‘This is why I want to go to law school,’” she said.
Sabo plans to continue following that non-traditional path, using her degrees to help create systematic change in education policy to help teachers, students, and students’ families.
“Although I adored my students and the families and I absolutely felt like I was making a difference in the classroom, I also felt like my hands were tied a little bit. I realized with a law degree and a legal training and background I could make more of a systematic, sustainable change,” she said. “With a background in special education I would eventually like to do something in disability discrimination working with the youth. I’d also like to maybe be a juvenile court judge someday, or work in a J.D. preferred position doing something like running a Special Olympics program or working with some type of nonprofit where I could serve as their legal counsel.”