Michelle Roberts '13 Takes the Lead

An avid marathon runner, Michelle Roberts’ road to law school was filled with unexpected twists and turns. Yet nothing seems to slow her down. 

While attending the University of Arizona, she majored in journalism but always planned on heading to law school after graduation. She interned with the Associated Press (AP) in college, never expecting to pursue journalism as a career. But once the AP offered her a full-time position that she couldn’t resist, she committed to the profession. She covered a wide range of topics throughout her time with the AP and traveled frequently to report on breaking news. 

Roberts was working as an editor in Arizona when Hurricane Katrina wreaked devastation in New Orleans, LA. The AP dispatched Roberts to cover the disaster’s aftermath. After several trips to the city in 2005, she was asked to stay for a year to closely document recovery efforts. She fell in love with the city and the people with whom she worked there, despite the difficult nature of the project. 

Afterward, Roberts moved to Texas, where her beat subjects included immigration. There, she found herself at a crossroads: pursue her dream of attending law school or give up on it all together. “I knew that I wanted to move to Los Angeles, to settle down and quit moving around, which is what I had done for the past 10 years.” So pick up and move she did. 

Once in Los Angeles, Roberts focused on Loyola as she narrowed her law-school choices down. “I knew the school had a long history of admitting minorities and women and it was focused on social justice,” she said. These attributes sold Roberts, and her decision was made.

By her second year, she signed up for the LAWASIA moot court team, which is part of an international organization of lawyers’ associations, individual lawyers, judges and legal academics from the Asia Pacific region. The LAWASIA organization hosts the competition in a different Asian country each year.

Roberts was one of three LLS students selected to participate in last year’s LAWASIA competition in Seoul, South Korea. Loyola’s team was the only American law school in the competition. Members argued an arbitration case about an international banana contract dispute. “We met law students and arbitrators from all over Asia, learned a lot about international trade and developed oral argument skills,” she said.

Roberts’ trip to South Korea was significant for another reason: She was finally able to visit family members whom she had never met before. It was a deeply personal experience that she will never forget. “Besides being great for my professional development, the trip was a really great experience for me personally,” she said.

Roberts explained how she looked forward to the challenge of law school but never expected to make friends in the process. “People at Loyola are brilliant, yet so nice,” she said. “I’ve been so impressed with the quality of people here. That is a value that really pervades this school. It’s what makes it an exceptional place,” she said.

Before starting her third and final year as a day student, Roberts spent the summer as a summer associate at Hogan Lovells LLP and developed a strong interest in litigation. She found that her background in journalism prepared her well for life in the courtroom. “Skills like writing, researching and thinking critically about the facts are very transferable skills,” she said.

Her talents have not gone unnoticed; Hogan Lovells LLP has offered her a full-time associate position upon graduation. “I am so excited and grateful to have this opportunity. I really enjoyed working with the people there,” she said. In the meantime, she is serving as an extern to the Hon. Arthur L. Alarcón, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Though her journey to law school took longer than expected, Roberts is happy with the path she chose. “Loyola was a good fit for me, and I’m so pleased with the decision I made,” she said.