First-generation ASU Law grad finds home in Phoenix
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.
Kristin Leaptrott had been working as a workers’ compensation claims adjuster for five years when she had an “aha” moment.
“That job put me in fairly regular contact with attorneys, and I was fascinated with the work they did on my claims, as well as the legal side of claims handling in general,” she said. “Eventually, I just realized I would rather be doing what they were doing!”
A first-generation college student, she had graduated with her Bachelor of Business Administration in managerial finance from the University of Mississippi and never thought law school would be in the cards for her. She had limited exposure to the legal field prior to starting at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, but she threw herself into the experience soon after arriving.
A beneficiary of the Simonson/Meyerson Family Scholarship, she completed two externships at Phoenix-based law firm Quarles & Brady and one with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. She also participated in the law school’s Civil Litigation Clinic, where she represented people who don’t have the resources to hire an attorney for cases involving consumer fraud, employment discrimination, unemployment insurance benefits, wage claims and tenant's rights.
“Law school has given me so many amazing opportunities that I never would have dreamed would be available to me,” said Leaptrott.
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
Answer: I was surprised by how much lawyering is about people — your client, your opposing counsel, judges, juries — and you really have to know how to read people, learn their motivations and tailor whatever you're doing to appeal to them. It's not all about the law.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I initially applied to ASU because I wanted to live in Phoenix, but I decided to attend after visiting the campus. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and I felt immediately at home. Three years later, I can happily say that I definitely made the right choice.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: I definitely learned the most from my clinic professors. I learned so much from them about the practical aspects and the day-to-day of being a lawyer, and that's just not really something you can get from a typical classroom setting.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Keep going! Try not to worry about what other students are saying about how much they're studying or what their grades are. The only thing you can control is yourself. As much as you can, do what you want to do and don't do what you don't want to do. There are a lot of things that law students do just because it's what law students do, but these three years will go by so fast; don't waste them on something you don't enjoy.
Q: What about advice for those considering ASU Law?
A: I am so happy I came to ASU, and I would recommend it to anyone who asks, but my best advice for someone who hasn't committed to a law school yet is to choose a school for the location and the people rather than prestige or ranking. Law school is hard enough as it is without being unhappy with where you are living or the people around you.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After taking the bar, I will be working at Quarles & Brady in their litigation practice group. I am so excited to officially join them this fall!
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would probably invest in meat and dairy alternatives or something similar that would help reduce the amount of animal products we consume. I know not everyone is opposed to eating meat for the animals, but I don't think anyone can really deny that animal agriculture in its current form is terrible for us and for the environment.
Q: What does graduating mean to you and your loved ones?
A: It's a huge deal! I am a first-generation college graduate, and being an attorney was absolutely not something I ever expected I could do growing up.
Q: Who, if anyone, helped you get here?
A: My partner moved across the country with me so that I could go to school here, and he has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader over the last three years. I definitely could not have done it without him.