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Finding Her Place in the Courtroom

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Internships helped Meredith Cooney, LW'14, discover her passion for the courtroom.

While incredible knowledge can be found in textbooks and learned during class discussions, the most valuable experiences at Drake Law are the practical on-site internships, externships, and clinics in which Drake Law students can participate.

This is especially true for alumna Meredith Cooney, who graduated from Drake Law in 2014. For Cooney, her internships and extracurricular experiences led her to discover her passion for the courtroom—something she didn't know when she started law school.

After completing her undergraduate degree and working in real estate, she thought working in a firm reviewing contracts and creating wills "sounded idyllic." But when, during a public interest fair, her path crossed with Steve Foritano, bureau chief of the General Trial Bureau of the Polk County Attorney's Office and adjunct professor at Drake Law, Cooney's focus started to shift toward trial work.

At first, it was as simple as joining one of the mock trial teams.

"I was instantly hooked," Cooney says.

meredith-cooney2.jpgConfidence Comes With Experience
It was Cooney's prosecutor internship that really ignited her interest. A few weeks into the internship, Foritano approached Cooney about being involved in an upcoming first-degree murder trial. This case was especially interesting because it was a second trial for the defendant after his conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals.

"This scenario presented several unique evidentiary and procedural concerns that were challenging yet interesting to explore," she says. "Being able to pinpoint the exact issue and research efficiently was key."

Cooney credits this experience for the next step in her law school career: the Advanced Prosecutor Internship where she tried (and won) a felony case. During the internship, she was responsible for everything—jury selection, the opening statement, examinations of all witnesses, and the closing argument.

"This internship and the opportunities it has afforded me have been invaluable," she says. "I not only have the skills to be a competent attorney, but I have the confidence that can only come with actual experience."

Scholarships Make It Possible
Cooney chose Drake because of the myriad practical experiences available—something that has already proved useful for her career. However, cost was also a factor in her decision. Cooney is the recipient of the Root Law Scholarship, which was established by the Richard Morton and Ruth Bailey Root Charitable Trust. She says the scholarship gave her the flexibility necessary to achieve her dreams.

"During my time at Drake Law, I was afforded opportunities I never imagined having when I started," she says. "My scholarship gave me the freedom to explore all the possibilities available at Drake and to find the path that best fits my strengths, goals, and passion."

How Can You Change a Life?
Your support can open the door for a Drake Law student. Contact John Amato at 515-271-2849 or john.amato@drake.edu to learn more.

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