A self-professed “Navy brat,” Rachel Mitchell has lived in several U.S. states and Japan, finished home-schooling in 2004 and completed a six-year hitch in the U.S. Air Force. One thing remained constant, though. She was enamored of the law . . . and “Law & Order.”
“Law school is something I always wanted to do, from growing up and watching TV shows about law,” she said. “Watching ‘Law and Order,’ I always saw how the lawyers stood up for people’s rights.”
She took the LSAT in fall 2011 before graduating in summer 2012 from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in international studies. But her immediate goal was to travel. After spending a year in Joplin, she moved in 2013 to Estonia, where she spent a year teaching English and sightseeing throughout Europe in her spare time.
Mitchell returned to the United States in 2014 and took a job in the graduate department of the University of Central Missouri. Then she received a notice: Her LSAT score was about to expire.
“So it was, ‘Go now, or don’t go,’” she said of her decision to enroll at the University of Missouri School of Law. Now she’s looking forward to graduating in May and beginning a legal career that will be informed by her travels and worldview.
“That five years in between [college and law school] was always meant to be temporary,” said Mitchell, 32. “People have asked me, why am I successful in law school? I have all of this different experience; I’ve seen different peoples and cultures. You have to have that as a lawyer, to see different sides of it and present different arguments.”
Mitchell has life experience, indeed. Her father’s career took her family around the planet, and her own stint in the Air Force spanned North America, from Anchorage, Alaska — “really pretty, when the weather cooperates” — to Fort Meade in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., corridor. She expects the legal profession will offer still more new and different experiences.
“It’s interesting,” Mitchell said. “The law shapes society, no matter if you know the intricate details of it. It helps you to understand what’s happening and why it’s happening. I’m drawn to public service law — speaking to what you would like it to be and applying it.”
While in law school, Mitchell has attained performance awards for her grade-point average and served on the Law Review executive committee. She also has obtained practical trial experience while working for the law school’s Prosecution clinic and advocating for military veterans in its Veterans Clinic.
Mitchell spent a semester interning with Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith, and she plans to join the judge’s staff as a clerk after she graduates.
“Eventually, my dream job would be civil-rights enforcement through the Justice Department,” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of people who, for whatever reason, are injured by the government or other entities but don’t have means to advocate for themselves. I like the means of being able to assist people who have been injured and effect greater change.”