News from the Windy City

Ashley at the US Supreme Court with Sandra Day O'Connor, her favorite US justice

Ashley at the US Supreme Court with Sandra Day O’Connor, her favorite US justice

I am happy to report that I’ve news from Ashley Knowland, an alumna from our MA program’s first class. She’s living in my hometown, Chicago. Which immediately makes me hungry for about 10 different kinds of takeout. And wanting to go hear some blues. But here’s what Ashley’s up to. She writes:

While my time as a member of the inaugural Laurier philosophy MA class was invaluable, I knew that after it finished I would need a change of pace. A PhD program was not for me, but I knew I wanted to continue my education in some form. I also knew that as an avid traveler I’d like to somehow combine my love of education with my desire to experience new places and people. That’s when I decided on law school.

I wrote the LSAT the year following graduation. Dr. Rusin’s logic classes helped me succeed and I got accepted to a school in Michigan. I was excited to live in a new country and meet new people. Americans are much more different from Canadians than one might think.

My school attracted people from all over the States, so I got to experience a good cross section of the country. Some of them were open to our ‘funny’ accents, traditions and values, and some of them wanted nothing to do with us. There might have been a heated discussion or two over pints about the merits of universal health care or gun control laws, but it was mostly all in good fun. At the end of the day I met some amazing people that I know I’ll be friends with forever.

While in law school I got to spend a semester studying ‘abroad’ in Toronto, studying international trade at U of T, and in Madrid looking at comparative economic institutions. The classes were great, from what I remember. Of course the majority of my focus was spent on weekend trips to other cities in Spain and Morocco to experience amazing food, architecture and culture – you know, the important stuff.

My school was also great at providing different opportunities for students. I participated in various internships that allowed me to experience the real life practice of law. I got to represent indigent clients charged with felonies in state court, draft motions and pleadings for real estate transactions and other civil suits, and help victims of domestic violence. But, apart from the work experience those opportunities provided, the theoretical bases behind the law were equally important. My time in the Laurier philosophy program really helped me understand these aspects. My MA research paper looked at the idea of Rawlsian public reason – a means of having a common ground for moral discussions in a pluralistic society. My constitutional law classes brought this idea home again. A good example is the attempted reconciliation that exists between the first amendment’s establishment clause and free exercise clause. The former prevents the government from establishing or favouring one religion over another, and the latter prevents the government from interfering with an individual’s right to practice their religion. A tension between these clauses exists in case law so having studied similar ideas before allowed me to bring another level to my legal analyses.

After a lot of fun and even more studying, I graduated magna cum laude from law school. I met my now husband in law school and we moved to Chicago shortly after graduation.

I spent this last summer studying for the bar and found out on October 1 that I passed. I am now a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and I couldn’t be happier. While the economic situation has caused my practice to start out slow, I’ve been focusing on international trade and customs compliance as a career route. I also plan on becoming licensed in Ontario to better serve international clients and maybe one day, move home.

Thanks Laurier,

Ashley Knowland

Thanks for dropping us a line, Ashley.  Please do so anytime, keep us up to date. Great to hear from you.

Ashley at her call to the bar

Ashley at her call to the bar

And congratulations on passing the bar!

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