ASU program paves a path to law school for first-generation Sun Devil


April 29, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Janessa Doyle moved to Arizona the summer before she started high school. Janessa Doyle Janessa Doyle, ASU Law Juris Doctor (JD) graduate. Download Full Image

As a first-generation college student at ASU, she navigated the law school application process on her own. Though Doyle didn’t know what to expect, she was certain of one thing: From a young age, she wanted to be an attorney and nothing was going to deter her from her goal.

Doyle pursued an undergraduate degree at ASU and was part of the first cohort of ASU’s Critical Legal Preparation Program. She credited this program as the support she needed to navigate the preparation and costs related to attending law school.

“I would advise students to take advantage of any and all resources offered at their respective schools and also be proactive in finding resources that might be helpful,” Doyle said.

Wanting to stay close to family, Doyle applied to schools in Arizona and ultimately decided to remain in the Sun Devil community, pursuing her Juris Doctor (JD) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

While at ASU Law, she was heavily involved with her community of peers. Doyle was an executive editor for Jurimetrics, The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology, president of the Federal Bar Association, vice president of finance for the Student Bar Association (SBA), vice president of the John P. Morris Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and a student ambassador.

Doyle participated in a variety of externships, equipping her with the expertise to embark on a legal career after graduation. She interned at the Arizona Supreme Court, the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and the Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Greenberg Traurig law firms.

We spoke to Doyle about her time at ASU Law and what she plans to do next.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study law?

Answer: There was never an “aha” moment. I have always enjoyed learning. At a young age, I made it my goal to attend law school and gain a better understanding of the law and my rights.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I learned to be open to trying new things. Whether it is trying a new study technique, a new recipe, a new hiking trail or a different practice area. There is no way of knowing whether you like something unless you give it a try!

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU Law?

A: All of the professors I have interacted with at ASU have taught me valuable lessons that will help me to become a successful attorney. No single lesson is more important than the other. I appreciate all that my professors have done for me.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Graduation is closer than you think!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus is the Reading Room. There is something about being in a silent room filled with students that brings me absolute joy!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to spend my summer studying for the bar exam, and in the fall, I will start working as a first-year associate at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in the firm’s Phoenix office.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would help to end hunger.

Meenah Rincon

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law