“Shoot for the moon, and you’ll land in the stars.”
Sage advice — and throughout her life, Emilie Easton embraced it.
Willing to stray out of her comfort zone, Easton tutored resettled Syrian and Congolese families in English, worked with children living in Bolivian prisons and eventually went to law school at The University of Toledo.
Easton will graduate with her J.D. in May and has accepted a position with the Army JAG Corps. She was selected as an alternate for the 2021-22 Fulbright Fellowship.
Rob Salem, clinical professor of law and Easton’s supervising attorney at the UToledo Civil Advocacy Clinic, said Easton is a true public servant.
“She understands the role of the lawyer in society — to help people who are often experiencing trauma or other kinds of stress and to battle the systemic problems in society that perpetuate injustices,” he said. “She is a model for what a lawyer should be.”
When Easton started law school in 2018, she was not sure she was going to “land in those stars.”
“I didn’t have lawyers in the family,” she said. “I didn’t speak like they do. I didn’t dress like they do. I didn’t know court decorum. To be honest, I didn’t think I would fit in.”
Before her first day of classes, she Googled, “Do law students wear backpacks? Do law students wear blazers to class? Or bring their lunch to school?”
She soon learned she could be her authentic self, work hard and succeed. UToledo faculty helped her gain that confidence.
“The professors here are incredibly accessible and open-minded,” she said. “Dean Barros taught my property law class. I asked loads of questions — and I mean loads. Dean Barros was always receptive to my constant curiosity.”
Easton said professors Rob Salem and Eric Chaffee also stood out as role models.
“Professor Salem is a legal practitioner who truly cares about his students and his work. His passion is contagious,” she said. “Professor Chaffee was the perfect mix of professionalism and good humor. His jokes, pop culture references and suit-and-tie attire made difficult legal topics palatable and memorable.”
Professor Ben Davis, Easton’s advisor, encouraged her to apply for jobs to expand her legal horizons. Following her first year of law school, she interned at the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review in Detroit.
“Professor Davis was a catalyst for me,” Easton said. “He told me to be bold and own my brilliance.”
His admonition mirrored another bit of advice Easton tries to follow: “Do one thing that scares you every day.”
As an undergraduate studying criminology and international affairs at Florida State University, Easton spent a summer in Bolivia volunteering as an English teacher and daycare staff. When she returned, she taught English to resettled Syrian and Congolese families, which made her realize the best way to advocate for them was to become a lawyer.
Now she’s involved in the UToledo International Law Society, serving as president, and works at UToledo’s Civil Advocacy Clinic where she helped a client become an American citizen.
“This experience reminded me of why I came to law school in the first place — to make a difference ” she said.
Last summer, Easton was one of three Toledo Law students accepted into the Army JAG internship program. Just 75 second-year law students from across the country are selected. It’s rare to have three chosen from one school.
At Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, Easton worked in a variety of legal areas, including immigration. She found a new passion when she shadowed a Special Victims’ Counsel, an attorney who provides legal guidance to victims of sex crimes.
The JAG Corps turned out to be her perfect fit.
“After everything I’d been through, I wanted a practice in which I could give back, see the world, challenge myself, never stop learning, practice in a variety of areas and protect people.”
Easton is unlike any student Salem has ever had, he said.
“She is passionate, smart, hard-working, extremely pleasant to work with, has a great sense of humor, and her clients adore her,” he said. “Her energy level is off the charts, but her temperament is always calm, collected and empathetic.”
The moon and the stars are well within her reach.