Double Major Leads Hannah McCauley '21 to Law School

Hannah McCauley' 21Hannah McCauley ’21 has some soul-searching to do this month­. At stake: which law school to attend in the fall. She’s been accepted into Chapman, Loyola, Lewis and Clark and Santa Clara and has received scholarships in varying dollar amounts from all.

“It’s overwhelming,” said McCauley.

A daunting choice indeed, but McCauley is doing her homework. She’s talking with attorneys about her options and reviewing scholarship and employment data from the American Bar Association.

The methodical process of selecting a law school is similar to how McCauley selected Pacific University. Her face lights up during a Zoom interview as she recalls a high school English teacher in Mt. Shasta, Calif., who assigned students to plan out all four years of college, including classes and degree requirements. That assignment led McCauley to a double major in sociology and criminal justice, law and society at Pacific University. Plus it was near family. Born in Bend, Ore., McCauley has family in California and Oregon.

“I picked Pacific because of the location, the financial aid package, and it had the program I wanted,” she said. “The classes fit so well, and there is so much you can do with that double major.”

Once at Pacific, McCauley hit the ground running freshman year with an internship as a victim’s advocate with the Washington County District Attorney’s office. During her time at Pacific she’s also held internships at various government agencies, worked on research projects with Pacific professors and just wrapped up a practicum at Lewis and Clark’s National Crime Victim Law Institute. These experiences helped shape McCauley’s interest in a career in the legal arena, but it was a constitutional law class with Professor Paul Snell that helped tip the scale.

“I really liked reading the justices’ opinions and breaking those down and figuring out why this is legal, but this isn’t … looking at the interpretations of the law and how the court system works,” she said.

Sitting at her desk in a brightly lit dorm room on a sunny day, McCauley contemplates her future. She’d like to start in public service working her way up as a prosecutor and perhaps one day return to her roots as a victim’s advocate. McCauley’s time at the National Crime Victim Law Institute exposed the unfairness of the American legal system.

“A lot of them (victims) don’t get equal treatment. Across the country one state may be supportive of victim’s rights and then in another state it’s completely different,” McCauley said. “There are a lot more protections and rights that should be in place for victims, especially when we talk about criminal justice reform.”

Monday, April 5, 2021