Angela Tomasello

Law Clerk, Maguire Legal Group
Akron, Ohio

Tell us a little bit about your background.
During my undergraduate career, I switched majors three times and transferred schools once. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in three years, went to graduate school and earned my master’s degree, but I never fully realized what I wanted to do.

All I knew was that I loved language. After teaching English at Ball State, I realized I wanted to teach abroad and joined the Peace Corps. I had an eye-opening experience in Moldova but ultimately determined that teaching wasn’t for me. When I came home from Moldova, I wanted to begin work in my comfort zone, which is why I started to work at a local university.

I loved my experiences in the education world, but I decided to earn a J.D. because I wanted to effect meaningful change. Law school was always in the back of my mind, and I just knew that this was the time to start.

You are now a law clerk with the Maguire Legal Group. What drew you to this role?
I wanted to gain some basic legal experience. After a few months in the position, I knew I had found my strength in a legal career. Maguire Legal Group works in probate and trust administration, probate litigation, estate planning and real estate.

Since it is a small firm, I support the attorneys directly. I have the opportunity to prepare legal documents, including wills, powers of attorney, contracts and affidavits. I investigate case law and search pertinent sources to determine causes of action. I also prepare documents for litigation, including complaints, motions and proposed orders, and discovery requests. I have learned a great amount in this role, and I’m excited to continue growing.

What inspired you to earn your J.D.?
Going to law school was always something I considered, but I wasn’t sure how to go to school and continue to work full time. When I came home from the Peace Corps, my motivation to study law grew. I became increasingly interested in immigration and solving individual and societal problems through law. I knew I needed to start working, though. Luckily, I found the University of Dayton Online Hybrid J.D. program, which offered me the opportunity to work full time and begin my legal studies.

Why is earning a J.D. the next step in your career?
The study of law aligns perfectly with my passions. My experiences teaching and living abroad gave me deeper insight into myself and what I have to offer the world.

Once I graduate, my ultimate goal is to work at a nonprofit supporting immigrants. With my experiences at Maguire Legal Group, I have expanded my interests beyond immigration law into family law as well. I hope to continue learning and growing to determine my next steps in my legal career. 

What drew you to University of Dayton for your law degree?
When I applied to law school, I had no idea where I wanted to live or what my schedule would look like for the next few years. What drew me to University of Dayton School of Law — and, specifically, the Online Hybrid J.D. program — was the flexibility it afforded me. I knew I could expect a quality education and the ability to take classes from wherever I was living at the time.

What does a day in your life look like?
My day-to-day life can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, I have supportive family, friends and work colleagues who have made it possible for me to balance working, school and my personal life. When I come home from my usual 9-to-5 job, I write case briefs, read or complete asynchronous work. Then I attend classes in the evening.

I try to wake up early to get a run in before work so I can wind down after classes. I would rather get up early than stay up late to work on things, but it took a little while to figure that out. Working in a law firm has been really helpful for my time management because the attorneys understand how stressful and time-consuming law school can be. They have been extremely flexible with me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.

Have there been any standout moments from your time in the program?
There are a ton of specific moments in which I felt supported and encouraged by my classmates and professors. I think what makes this program different is the support you receive during your first-semester classes.

We had the opportunity to take a learning skills lab that really stood out to me because it eased us into law school. It gave us time to reflect on our first semester and understand our goals. This course and the professor that led it helped me ensure that pursuing a J.D. would align with my personal and professional goals.

Tell us about your classmates.
My cohort is really unlike any other group of students I have worked with. We all come from different backgrounds and have decided to pursue our J.D. for a wide array of reasons.

I feel endlessly supported by this group of students. We are all rooting for each other to succeed, and it shows in our interactions — inside and outside the classroom. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we haven’t had the opportunity to meet in person, but we are thrilled to meet in a central location when it is safe to do so.

Why did you select the online format rather than an in-person program?  

Flexibility was important to me when I was choosing a law school. I have taken classes online before, and I am extremely self-motivated, so I knew online classes wouldn’t be a problem for me. I decided on the online format because I really appreciated the freedom of being able to take classes wherever I am.

What recommendations or advice do you have for prospective students?
Before I began earning my J.D., I was told that law school is very different from any other degree program. That is true: Law school has required a completely different skill set than any other program I have attended. Law school has been extremely challenging and rewarding in ways I never imagined.

My advice for prospective students would be to truly understand your goals and motivations before you begin your J.D. program. Having a clear understanding of your “why” will give you the drive and motivation to be successful in whatever program you choose. Then, throughout law school, don’t forget to focus your efforts on the passions and goals that matter most to you.