Kim Gocchi Carrasco

Even when she was growing up in the small town of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, Nebraska law student graduate Katie Moore was determined to become a lawyer.

"The only careers I’ve ever considered in my life were ‘flight attendant’ and ‘lawyer,'” Katie said. “When I was five I thought I wanted to be a flight attendant. But once I was in high school, my decision to become a lawyer never shifted.”

When Katie came to the university as an undergraduate in 2008, she knew she wanted to enter law school as soon as possible. Katie at first only pursued a major in political science. After taking a number of political science classes, however, Katie realized the classes which interested her the most were classes which also counted toward sociology credits.  Katie then began taking only sociology courses. By her sophomore year, Katie declared sociology as her second major.

 Throughout many of her sociology courses, Katie learned research methods that were invaluable to her in law school. In Katie’s senior year, she learned how to use the software SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), which she later used in an empirical legal studies class in law school.

During her senior year, Katie also researched how alcohol use differed between urban and rural teens. Using data from the 2008 Monitoring the Future Study, Katie found that rural teens were more likely than urban teens to consume alcohol. In both urban and rural teens, however, Katie found that teens who spend time around people who drink are more likely to drink themselves. Of especial interest to Katie after this study was researching how local laws are applied differently to youths who drink in urban or rural areas.

After earning her Bachelor’s degrees in sociology and political science in May 2012, Katie went on to attend Nebraska Law School in August 2012. She is currently employed by Sandhills Publishing, where she works with employment laws, intellectual property laws, and other areas. Katie also participates in the Law School’s clinical program, in which third-year law students have the opportunity to represent parties for reduced cost.

Thanks to her studies in sociology as an undergraduate, Katie has developed a stronger awareness of the policies and ideas which influence the creation of laws. The skills Katie acquired as a sociology major aided her in her legal studies.

Potential law students can get a taste of the laws and policies in certain fields as sociology majors. If a potential law student wishes to enter domestic or criminal law, Katie said, then that student can take classes such as Family Violence, Marriage and Family, Human Sexuality, Sociology of Crime, and Drugs and Society, all of which will introduce them to several of the policies surrounding domestic law.

“Something else important that sociology students learn is how to think and write analytically,” Katie said. “So sociology students are used to asking questions, which is an important habit in law school and legal practice. Having that line of thinking be second-nature is very helpful.”

Katie graduated from law school in May 2015. Her current employer, Sandhills Publishing, has offered her a permanent position in their legal department as soon as she passes her State Bar Exam, in which she will continue to work with negotiations, contracts, and many other aspects within Sandhills Publishing’s legal department. Katie says the deeper understanding of human behavior she has gained as a sociology major will help her tremendously in her future career.

Story by Lane Chasek

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