Political Science Alumnus Pursues Passion for Law
Building community and taking opportunities have always been central values for Avery Hitchcock (BA ’18). Graduating from the University of Denver with majors in political science, criminology and psychology and a minor in business, Hitchcock thrived on a busy schedule and constantly learning.
“I’m really grateful for the quarter system at DU, which allowed me to take so many more classes and to discover that I had incredible interest in wanting to learn more about these different fields,” says Hitchcock.
Hitchcock’s interest only intensified when he took classes with professors that were just as passionate as he was. Professor of Sociology & Criminology Scott Phillips and Associate Professor of Political Science Nancy Wadsworth shared their passion for learning with Hitchcock.
“DU has so many faculty members that are just so passionate about the areas that they’re experts in, and that passion really comes across to students, making them excited and encouraging them to learn more themselves,” says Hitchcock.
His passion for learning led Hitchcock to join the mock trial team at DU. Being a part of the mock trial team provides students the opportunity to participate in regional and national competitions and win ballots by receiving more points than the opposing team.
“My first year joining mock trial was my sophomore year in 2015–2016, and that was the first time that DU ever qualified for a national mock trial tournament. Since that year, DU has earned a bid to go to that first round of nationals every year,” says Hitchcock. “It’s definitely an incredible opportunity for students who are interested in becoming lawyers, as well as those who are just looking for an opportunity to get some extracurricular experience, whether in public speaking or acting.”
The mock trial team truly gave Hitchcock a sense of community at DU. He became close with his teammates who traveled nationally to different competitions and spent hours preparing together.
“I honestly made some of my best friends from college from doing mock trial,” says Hitchcock. “One of the things that’s so great about DU is that so many people are able to find community for themselves, whether it be getting involved in Greek life, being an RA or even being involved with a research team on campus.”
Not only did Hitchcock find community at DU, but he also became a much stronger writer. Hitchcock wanted to become a better writer and was challenged to do so through the capstone course that he took in political science.
“We had to write a capstone thesis that was 20-30 pages. Although the first draft that I got back was filled with edits that needed to be made, the professors at DU are there to work with you, help you get better and are willing to be resources for you, which made my thesis just an incredible learning experience,” says Hitchcock. “I became much more articulate and a more succinct writer and that’s something that’s honestly served me really well in law school.”
Now in his third year of law school at UCLA, Hitchcock is gaining even more valuable experience. As of a few weeks ago, Hitchcock was part of the first team at UCLA to earn a bid to the National Trial Competition.
“Having the opportunity to compete at one of the most highly regarded law school trial competitions just felt really good,” says Hitchcock. “I was on a team with two incredible friends of mine who are also in their third year of law school, and we’re all going out of our mock trial careers on a really high note together.”
Although it’s bittersweet to be ending his mock trial career, Hitchcock is looking forward to clerking for a Ninth Circuit Judge after graduation. As a law clerk, he’ll do research on cases that appear in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, discuss the legal issues with the judge, travel with the judge to attend different world arguments and have discussions on drafts of briefs, majority opinions, concurrences and dissents.
“Clerkships are relatively hard to come by and have a very rigorous application process, so if you get one, it’s something you definitely want to do,” says Hitchcock. “It opens up a lot of doors and is an incredible opportunity to learn from someone who is really at the preeminent position of the legal industry, like the judge, and so I was thrilled to get that position.”
Although Hitchcock already has a plan for after graduation, he’s still figuring out what facet of the law he wants to work in.
“I’ve always loved so many facets of the law, such as civil litigation work, legal research work, writing and being in court arguing. I’m in the position where I’m happy to just see where my career will take me,” Hitchcock says. “I’m sure in several years I’ll have a better idea about where I’ll end up, but for now I’m just excited to learn and am open to whatever comes my way.”