A long-time interest in joining the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, a passion for helping others, and a taste for adventure all propelled Cecilia Mitchell throughout law school and into a military law career. This is her law school story.
You can get into politics in any state, but for Cecelia Mitchell ’19, there was only one option: the pinnacle, Washington, D.C.
While at The Catholic University of America, Mitchell studied politics (naturally) and got heavily involved off campus, interning at congressional offices and political think tanks. Along the way she met lots of lawyers. “I idolized them. They were just so fascinating and intelligent,” she says. “That led me to law school.”
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Beyond the legal minds dazzling her in D.C., Mitchell was interested in the law because of her experience working as a correctional officer with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department in Ludlow, Massachusetts. “I got really passionate about the criminal justice system,” she says. “There are real people that need actual help in the system.”
So Mitchell started looking for law schools with the best public interest law programs. “I was really drawn to New England Law,” she says. “These other schools just want to ship you off to big law and law firms. And that was never me, ever.”
With a long-time interest in joining the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, Mitchell pursued a JAG internship while in law school, where she gained clarity in what she wanted to do with her law career.
“I was just so impressed and inspired by the work they do,” she says. “When you’re prosecuting someone in the military, these are serious charges. And there’s usually a victim that is very hurt, especially sexual assault prosecutions. It’s meaningful, and I felt a lot of purpose.”
After the internship, going back to “civilian life” just wasn’t the same, and Mitchell knew she wanted to stay in the JAG Corps after graduating. “I need something that really captivates, where you really feel like you’re doing something good for society,” she says. “I know that sounds like a cliché, but I’m just so excited and ready.”
Mitchell will be shipping out to Alabama for training as an officer, commissioned in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps. Right now, it’s a four-year commitment, but Mitchell says she can see herself being a “lifer” in the military. “If I want a new adventure, I definitely see myself staying with the federal government,” she says. “I really, really like working for the federal government, if that isn’t clear!”
Related: My Law School Story: Sabrina Rocco, U.S. Army JAG Intern
In addition to her internship with the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, Mitchell had three other formative internship experiences while in law school: working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a federal judge, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where she was an SJC 3:03 student prosecutor. She also worked in the school library, served as a WestLaw Student Rep, and was accepted as an editor for the New England Law Review academic journal. Ever erudite, she served as historian for the Phi Delta Phi legal honor fraternity as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all that hard work led to Mitchell becoming the valedictorian of her class.
“Don’t be afraid of success,” she advises other law students. “I’m a first-generation college and law student. So going into this, people were like, ‘Prepare to do poorly. Prepare to get B’s and be happy with that.’ But in my experience, you don’t have to settle for that. You can set your sights high and work hard, and you can succeed.”
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