Madeline Ross (J.D. ’21) knew growing up she either wanted to be a prosecutor or a nurse. “I know those sound very different, but they have the commonality of service,” she explained. When she realized that she didn’t enjoy math or science and that reading and writing were her strong suits, she figured the law school route would be the best use of her natural abilities.
Ross has since been following all the right steps to help get her there. She earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice before recently graduating from the College of Law, where she was involved with Moot Court and served as president of the Student Trial Lawyers Association.
After taking the Georgia Bar at the end of July, she will be apprenticing with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office to continue honing her skills as she awaits for bar results in October. Here, she explains why she chose this area of law and how her experiences at GSU Law helped prepare her.
Why do you want to be a prosecutor?
My parents joke that they always knew I was going to be a prosecutor just because that really aligns with my personality. Starting as a kid I had a strong personality and strong convictions about right and wrong, even if it was something as little as my parents not giving me ice cream when I wanted. My sense of justice has just become more refined as I’ve gotten older.
I also think there are a lot of problems in the criminal justice system. And while defense is certainly a fantastic way to address some of the issues, there’s a lot to be said from attacking criminal justice reform from the prosecution angle as well since prosecutors hold a lot of power. I am also committed protecting the most vulnerable in our society wanting to stand up for victims. I want to make a safe community for the people who live in it and for the State of Georgia.
What experiences at GSU Law have helped prepare you?
STLA has been by far the most rewarding and important thing I’ve participated in during my time in law school. The competitions mimic actual trials so it’s a fantastic way to get those trial skills. Moot Court is also great, because I was able to develop my oral advocacy and writing skills.
Thinking back to where I was at my first competition to my last, my growth centers around my ability to trust myself and trust that I know what I’m doing. That has translated into actually practicing law, because through my externship with the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, I was sworn in under the third-year student practice rule, which means I could practice as long as I was supervised. That allowed me to represent the State of Georgia during pleas and hearings where I was getting up and speaking in court. My experience through STLA and Moot Court definitely helped with being more confident.
Are you glad you chose Georgia State Law?
Absolutely. Not only is a great value and in a great location but getting to go out in the real world and use the skills I learned in the classroom was invaluable. I was able to actually practice law and I don’t think other schools offer as much experiential learning as Georgia State.
I’ve also made some incredible, life-long friends. It’s not the cliche law school experience where people want to sabotage each other, are super competitive or want to bring each other down. It’s very much a community and I am really honored to be a part of that community.
Interview by Mara Thompson