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The Power of Perseverance

News Type Alumni
News Topic
Editor Emma Kapp

In the face of adversity and tragedy, Jenna Ferrell ’14 found a way to keep going. Her personal strength and dedication to justice are as evident now as they were when she was a student at Ohio State Law. Ferrell has used the knowledge and skills cultivated during her time in law school throughout her career, and she has had a remarkable journey.  


Loss and learning 

Ferrell was in high school when she first started thinking about law school. She did mock trial in college, which solidified what she anticipated might be the track for her. Upon graduation, Ferrell was commissioned into the Army and began law school.  

“I think I always knew I would enjoy being a lawyer,” Ferrell shared.  

Life drastically changed, though, when Ferrell’s husband was killed in action. She withdrew from law school and wasn’t sure if she would ever go back.  

Ferrell volunteered for active duty after her husband’s passing and served as a military police officer. She found she liked investigatory assignments more than she expected.  

“Most people would not want to be assigned to do administrative or property loss investigations,” she said. “But I enjoyed it - from the document collection to the review that resulted in findings. Putting the investigations together was also a sort of sign to me, if you will, that going back to law school and finishing what I started was probably the right move.”  

Once she made the decision to return back to law school, Ferrell knew she would need a fresh start. She wanted to continue her legal education in a new place close to family. Ohio State Law fit that bill and, additionally, was very veteran-friendly – another characteristic important to Ferrell. 

“I got a great sense of community from just the first visit, and that continued to prove itself again and again when I was actually here,” she said. 


“The friendships that I made are with the kind of people that you can call up, even if you haven't talked in a while, and pick up where you left off.”


Putting law into practice 

Some of Ferrell’s favorite memories of her time as a student come from her involvement in the moot court team. Because she received the highest grade in her appellate advocacy class, she had the opportunity to join the travel team and compete against schools across the country. Ferrell was also Chief Justice of the program in her 3L year and helped run tournaments, coach local mock trial teams, and write letters to juveniles in a nearby detention center.  

Ferrell also cites the prosecution clinic as one of her most impactful experiences. It brought what she was learning in the classroom to life and gave her invaluable experience.  

“Reality doesn't always play out exactly the way the rule book or statues might suggest it would,” she said. “Sometimes what you think is going to be a relatively easy undertaking becomes less so as time goes on. I’m glad I had the experience of the clinic to learn that.” 

The skill set she developed through her classes and experiential learning opportunities laid the foundation for Ferrell’s career path. After graduating from Ohio State Law, she joined the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps and has worked her way to today serving as the chief of the Installation Readiness Branch within the Environmental Law Division.  

“I've enjoyed the advising part that goes along with a lot of the leadership positions that the Army expects us to fill,” she shares. “I've served in advisory roles to brigade commanders twice because I liked it that much.” 

Of all her professional accomplishments, though, Ferrell considers going back and finishing law school her greatest one. Despite the uncertainty, she took a chance and ultimately achieved a goal that was so important to her.  

 “I wasn't expecting life to throw me the curveball it did when I was initially in law school. There was this very real possibility that I would never go back,” she said. 


“I'm happy for myself that I made it through, and I think that my late husband would have also been happy to see me fulfill that dream.” 


Learning by doing  

Ferrell’s advice to students is to keep asking questions. The answers can lead to self-discovery or a new opportunity.  

“If you don't ask, you'll never know if it could happen,” Ferrell shared. “Some of what I've had the opportunity to do has been chance or luck, and some of it's been because I asked a supervisor: what would you do in my position here? What would make me a better lawyer and leader?”  

She also strongly encourages students to seek out opportunities for hands-on learning. Being able to apply abstract legal concepts to reality will provide valuable experience.  

“There are a lot of opportunities, like externships, that allow you to be flexible and fit in schoolwork,” Ferrell said. “It lets you really delve into something that might end up being your life path.”  

Ferrell’s own life path may have included some unexpected turns, but she has found meaning and fulfillment in her work. It is a great honor to have an alum like Ferrell serving our country and representing Ohio State Law.  


News Type Alumni
News Topic
Editor Emma Kapp

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