Read how WMU-Cooley Law School student Lauren Simasko came to realize that she not only wanted to be a lawyer, she wanted to be in the courtroom. Read Simasko's Legal News story by Sheila Pursglove below.
Law student Lauren Simasko’s “wildest dream” would be one day to argue cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court — a dream inspired by participating on WMU- Cooley Law School's nationally ranked Moot Court team, where she loves the unpredictability.
“Moot Court is an experience unlike any other,” says Simasko, who has taken part in two national competitions, and won a Best Brief Award and taken first place in Oral Advocacy, as well as serving as the Moot Court vice president. “Every argument is different from the last — no matter how much one prepares, no litigant is omnipotent. No one can anticipate what questions will be asked — whether the judge is an expert on the issue and will get into the nitty-gritty or wants to stay more surface-level on the issues. All a litigant can do is be as prepared as possible.
“Honestly, I love everything about Moot Court and Appellate Advocacy — it’s an opportunity for a litigant to really show their stuff. It requires a virtually perfect knowledge of the record, an argument that can withstand the toughest criticism, a thorough understanding of applicable law, and an unwavering outward expression of confidence. It’s a 15-minute period where it’s only you and a panel of passionate, possibly stubborn judges and I love the chance to make the most of those 15 minutes.”
“Moot Court has taken such a special place in my heart,” she adds. “I’d love the opportunity to practice appellate advocacy in my career. But no matter where my future takes me, I hope to be in the courtroom.”
MATH TO LAW
Simasko originally planned on a career crunching numbers, earning a bachelor of science in business administration at Central Michigan University. “I didn’t find general finance too fulfilling,” she says. “I thought it was missing the ‘human’ element I wanted in a life-long career, so I added a degree in personal financial planning.”
But with two majors under her belt, Simasko still wasn’t satisfied with the day-to-day life of a financial adviser. She looked back at what drew her to finance in the first place — math — and asked herself what she really liked about the subject.
"Then it hit me — I love math because I love problem solving," she says. "I never loved the numbers — I love the process of taking a question that seems impossible to answer and finding the most efficient, effective way to a solution."
The light-bulb moment helped Simasko realize she wanted to problem-solve for a living, regardless of where that path took her.
Reflecting on her skills and interests, Simasko felt that the law provided the perfect trifecta of emotions, problem solving and justice.
"I loved theater, my biggest strength as a performer was conveying emotions to others," she says. “My love for problem solving always drew me to true crime;and as the oldest sibling, I was always passionate about justice and equality, regardless of the circumstance.”
After working part time as a paralegal for four years, during undergrad, Simasko is now in her 3L year, and in the top 7 percent of her class, at the Auburn Hills campus of WMU-Cooley Law School, where she has been on the Dean’s List and Honor Roll every term. She is on the Lincoln House Council, a Senator and Student Bar Association liaison, a member of the Organization of Women Law Students, and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.
“From the moment I stepped through the doors, I felt I belonged,” she says. “Before Cooley, I didn’t know where I fit in the world. I was insecure about whether I would have what it takes to be a great law student and future attorney.
“Cooley has an innate ability to turn a timid student into a confident, professional, and capable attorney — largely because teachers and students alike are warm and willing to help if ever possible,” she adds. “I consider the majority of my professors to be my friends and I’m so thankful Cooley has encouraged an environment to make that possible. Cooley has become my home, and its staff, an extension of my family — I’m honored to represent all Cooley has taught me.”
Simasko recently interned as a legal administrative specialist at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in Detroit, and says she was especially grateful “to have the chance to get a glimpse behind the veil of the federal government.”
“The media paints a picture that the IRS is focused on the dollar and not the individual. However, I found the exact opposite to be true,” she says. “Counsel comprises caring, knowledgeable attorneys who are searching for the truth rather than a win. The Detroit office has gone so far as to implement free tax training seminars to help taxpayers complete their income tax statements as accurately as possible.”
Simasko also is a court-appointed guardianship review volunteer at the Oakland County Probate Court.
“It’s such a great chance to help a demographic that has a potential to be taken advantage of,” she says. “Spending a few hours to check in on a ward of the state could very well make the difference between life and death for a ward. While the majority of guardians are responsible, capable caretakers, those who are capable of maintaining this standard of care should feel as though they have a duty to do so.”
A native of Shelby Township and graduate of Eisenhower High School, Simasko lives with her family in the township, to avoid accumulating debt as much as possible while in law school.
“I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to see my younger brother go through high school while my younger sister is starting law school,” she says.
“My mom and dad are my biggest role models. My mom teaches me to live life with kindness, joy and confidence; my dad has taught me to follow your passion and, when you love what you do, success will follow.”
A fan of painting, true-crime podcasts, and movies, Simasko also enjoys live entertainment, whatever the medium.
“It’s so satisfying to watch performers in their element, sharing a moment with their audience and leaving it all on the stage,” she says. “I think that feeling drew me to litigation – telling a story and asking a judge or jury to empathize with your client.”
Simasko, who has volunteered with Forgotten Harvest, also is a passionate volunteer for the non-profit Leader Dogs for the Blind, an organization whose fund-raising events include scaling down a building, and dinner in the dark.
“Volunteers are able to help make these events possible, and seeing everyone’s smiling faces will leave you feeling as warm and fuzzy as the puppies in training,” she says.