ASU students should take advantage of Phoenix’s successful legal community

Local law opportunities are available for students breaking into the law industry

As the sixth-largest city in the country, Phoenix is home to some of the most prestigious law firms, making up a hot bed of legal opportunities for ASU students to explore. 

ASU students pursuing law-related careers should take advantage of the excellent legal opportunities in the state and explore the advantages that the Phoenix legal community has to offer.

With ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in close proximity to Maricopa County's judicial institutions, students have every opportunity to get hands-on experience within the legal system.

Charles Herf, faculty associate at ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, has been involved in the Arizona legal community since the early 1970s.  

“Phoenix has a very diverse community consisting of national firms, a large number of medium-sized local firms, many highly specialized and focused solo practitioners and a lot of public lawyers both in the civil and criminal area as well as the social services and public services lawyers,” Herf said.

According to the 2018 U.S. News & World Report, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is ranked as the 25th best law school in the country with 718 enrolled students.

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is competitive and students should be achieving academically as well as assuming roles of leadership within organizations to better their chances of receiving a position at a prestigious law school.

Catherine Barnard, faculty associate at ASU's College of Law, has been practicing law in Phoenix for over three years, said that "Phoenix has a tight-knit legal community, and is diverse in regards to attorneys, practice areas and specialities. It's an urban community with a lot to offer."

Arizona schools have been taking advantage of in-state legal resources to prepare students for their legal careers.

“The University of Arizona and Arizona State both have excellent programs, excellent faculty and excellent placement for lawyers both in and out of Arizona,” Herf said.  

Also, through the ASU School of Politics and Global Studies, student legislative internships are available at the Arizona State Legislature, Arizona Supreme Court and the Governor's Office.

"I think everyone is enamored with the prospect of being a lawyer but no one truly knows if it's the right fit for them until they are given an internship and the opportunity get their feet wet," Amber Li, a freshman at ASU majoring in supply chain management, said. 

Legal internship opportunities are important enhancements to students' resumes, however, they are competitive. Students should be doing research on positions to apply for and be actively seeking positions that could further their careers.

ASU students should take advantage of these positions, utilizing resources such as Handshake, career and professional development services and ASU's writing centers.

Some students choose to attend law school in the state where they want to practice someday, as law school involves networking and forming relationships with lawyers. However, ASU's rigorous law program provides the skill set necessary for the many who choose to practice out of state. 

With a growing and successful legal community, however, students have no reason to go out of state, as Phoenix is full of opportunities for student success.

Ultimately, ASU students who hope to work in the law industry are given many tools in the Phoenix legal community to advance their careers, wherever they may go.  It is a matter of students realizing the abundance of opportunities and making use of the extensive community available to them.

Reach the columnist at or follow @ninalplunkett on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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