Three Pathways in Law: Communication Studies Alumni Thrive in Legal Frontiers

Strong written and oral communication skills are essential to the practice of law. Communication Studies is one of several majors that students at Kent State can choose for the university’s 3+3 partnership with area law schools. We caught up with three alumni from the School of Communication Studies to explore how an undergraduate communication studies major prepared them for the study and practice of law.

Alex Long

Alexander Long, ’23, First-Year Law Student at Duquesne University

During Alexander Long’s time at Kent State, he learned the importance of establishing connections with others, tailoring messages to diverse audiences, using persuasive communication tactics and resolving conflict through negotiation. Today, he is putting these skills and more into practice as a first-year student at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“The expertise I derived from the Communication Studies program is directly correlated to the skills that I’ve found applicable in law school,” said Long, ’23, citing the courses Freedom of Speech, Communication and Influence and Business and Professional Communication.

In addition to his technical skill set, Long gained valuable interpersonal skills that he says have given him an edge as he searches for a summer internship.

“The legal community is filled with bright individuals, making the search for internships and job opportunities a competitive landscape,” he explains. “In the Communication Studies program, I was taught the importance of networking and given opportunities to interact with diverse audiences. This continues to play a part in how I approach professional development in law school.”

As a first-generation undergraduate student and now a first-generation law student, Long says he is grateful for Kent State faculty and staff, including School of Communication Studies Director Paul Haridakis, Ph.D., who were lawyers before working in academia and were willing to share advice with him.

“Find these people and ask them questions about law school and the legal profession… Don’t doubt yourself and trust that Communication Studies has prepared you with the knowledge and skillset necessary to become a great law student,” he said.

Nicholas Schneckenburger

Nicholas Schneckenburger ‘15, Managing Partner at Maguire Schneckenburger Legal Group

As the Managing Partner at Maguire Schneckenburger Legal Group, Communication Studies alumnus Nicholas Schneckenburger, ’15, continues to find his background in Communication Studies beneficial to his career.

After graduating, Schneckenburger began law school at The University of Akron in 2015 and graduated with his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 2018. 

During law school, Schneckenburger started as a law clerk at his current firm and later got hired as an associate. While working as an associate, he was asked to join the firm as a partner and after a year, became the managing partner. Additionally, he was recently named a Rising Star Super Lawyer for a third consecutive year by Thompson Reuters and was only one of two attorneys in Ohio to receive the honor. 

Schneckenburger says he always knew he wanted to pursue law, and when he came to Kent State, an advisor recommended Communication Studies as a major would help him in law school and as a lawyer.

“My Communication Studies degree was actually very beneficial for my career now,” he said. “It involved a lot of public speaking and a lot of writing. As a lawyer, I do two things quite often – a lot of speaking and a lot of writing."

Schneckenburger believes an important skill to have as a lawyer is storytelling, especially the ability to tell a convincing story.

“The Communication Studies major was helpful to develop those skills and learn how to effectively speak and write,” he said. “I learned to think on my feet, develop an argument, persuade people, and tell a convincing story. All of which are extremely critical to being a lawyer, especially one that litigates.”

The Maguire Schneckenburgerlegal group, where he is managing partner, grew from a small practice to more of a smaller full-service law firm that specializes in estate planning, probate and trusts, guardianships, business and corporate law and real estate work. So far, Schneckenburger’s career has been developing the business and managing the law firm with strategic planning; his law practice has focused on estate and trust litigation and estate planning.

Meghan Carrasco

Megan Carrasco, ‘16, Attorney at Snell & Wilmer LLP

Megan Carrasco's journey to law school and now as an attorney at Snell & Wilmer LLP began at Kent State University with her major in Communication Studies. 

“Law is very much communication based; you never have to do just one thing in law,” Carrasco said.

After graduating in 2016, Carrasco, an Honors student, spent time working and thinking about what she truly wanted to do before going back to graduate school. After realizing that the law school process and courses fascinated her, she began law school at Arizona State University in 2018 and graduated with her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 2021. 

The summer after graduation, Carrasco took the bar examination and received the second-highest score in the state of Arizona — a great honor. 

Currently, her practice is focused on commercial litigation, and so far, Carrasco has done some construction litigation, gaming law, matters with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, internal investigations and general business disputes.

“I really love the practice of law,” she said. “My favorite part is being able to advocate for our clients.”

Carrasco believes Communication Studies gave her a great foundation for law school, with relevant coursework and supportive faculty. By learning skills such as persuasive speaking, writing, critical thinking and oral advocacy, Carrasco felt prepared. 

“High Impact Professional Speaking taught me a lot for law school,” she said. “Having to record my speeches and watch them back as part of my own feedback helped me remove filler words while speaking which was incredibly helpful.”  

POSTED: Friday, March 8, 2024 04:54 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 11:33 AM
Marisa Santillo, '23, M.Ed. '25