Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: Luther College
Undergraduate Degree: Political Science and History
It didn’t take long for Elisabeth Archer, a second year student at the University of Iowa College of Law, to realize how closely the political and legal fields were connected.
After completing several internships and work experiences with the U.S. House of Representatives, the Iowa State Legislature, and Governor Branstad’s office, Archer realized that pursuing a career where the two paths converged was of great interest to her. In the future, she hopes to work for a congressional committee as legal counsel, aiding in the preparation and drafting of bills.
Largely the influences directing her towards a legal career were those mentors and people with whom she worked during her experiences in several political environments, although she has received abounding support in this endeavor from her family, friends, and professors.
Iowa born, bred, and educated, (a Luther College graduate) Archer was excited and fortunate to have the opportunity to continue her education in Iowa and still receive a top-tier legal education.
One of her major accomplishments during law school thus far was working on her attitude and making it through the first year. Throughout the year she learned to go with her own gut, study in her own way, and in doing that, gained a great deal of confidence in her abilities and was able to make law school about her personal approach and goals.
“I think my first year was very difficult for me because I let myself become intimidated by stories I heard from graduates that law school was the worst three years of their lives,” the 22 year old said. “I was also intimidated by my accomplished peers and their keen intellect, but I think at the end of the day I just had to learn to buckle down and create my own experience.”
This past summer Archer served as a legal extern to Justice Mansfield and Justice Waterman at the Iowa Supreme Court. Because the Iowa Supreme Court’s terms largely mirror those of the U.S. Supreme Court, the first part of the summer included aiding in the drafting of opinions and concluding the court’s adjudicative term, and the latter part of the summer focused more on attorney discipline cases. She also participated in the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, which included attending several educational sessions in Arizona.
Archer said the biggest surprise of law school came on the day after her last final second semester of her first year.
“I was getting ready to leave my apartment and head off for the summer and I realized that I already missed school,” she said. “I then let my parents know that I was obviously very ill and needed special care, but really, all jokes aside, once I started to get over my fears and stresses, I found that I actually really enjoyed classes and the whole law school experience.”
During Archer’s first year she was a member of OWLSS (Organization of Women Law Students and Staff), the Federalist Society, the Pro Bono Society, and she served as a student representative on the Faculty Committee for Student Honors and Awards. In her second year, Archer will also be a student writer for the Iowa Law Review and a research assistant to Professor Enrique Carrasco.
One of her ongoing goals, which got put on hold during her 1L year, is to read the top 100 classic novels. She began reading Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol at the end of last summer and upon arriving at law school, the book lived up to its title – it became a dead soul on her nightstand, she joked.
Most students are scared when they arrive at school because it is a totally new experience and you are in a class chalked-full of other intelligent, accomplished individuals, making it difficult to set yourself apart, she said, and advises law school administrators to continue to understand the precarious situation that law students are in.
“I think that the administrators at Iowa are already very understanding of the life of a law student and I would advise prospective students to take advantage of all of the opportunities to interact with the faculty, administration, and staff and engage them with questions and concerns throughout their education,” the Ottumwa, Iowa native said.
The four-story UI law library is one of Archer’s favorite places in the law school, but finds studying at home to be more effective.
“It is such an impressive place and we have so many amazing resources available to us, that being said, I am a home studier,” she said. “I find that studying at home gives me a more comfortable, laid back atmosphere, which helps take the edge off all of the work you have to do each night.”
Working at her internship last summer has made her appreciate the rigor during the school year.
“I think that Iowa Law produces hard-workers who are well-trained, but who are also relatable and easy to interact with,” she said. “I feel that Iowa Law has fully prepared me and my classmates for our future careers.”