BA in English

Arthur Pitts, 2004

Arthur Pitts

While I was in high school, I became convinced that I wanted to pursue a career in law. I graduated from Mason in May of 2004 with a degree in English, and Government and International Relations. My concentration was 20th century literature. I enjoy reading and critical analysis, and I sought to improve my writing ability. So, choosing English as a major seemed to be the logical choice. After undergrad, I enrolled in the Masters program at Mason, and graduated with a degree in Professional Writing and Editing in January 2006. 

With the pursuit of law still on my mind, I went overseas to study Criminology at Cambridge and earned a Master of Philosophy in October 2006. My graduate thesis focused on prisoners’ attitudes toward losing the right to vote. I surveyed prisoners at a prison twenty miles outside of Cambridge. My goal was to determine whether regaining the franchise would be likely to promote rehabilitation after leaving prison and rejoining society. I spent the following year working as a paralegal in DC before enrolling in Notre Dame Law School. Since then, I’ve worked in Notre Dame’s Legal Aid Clinic legally representing low-income South Bend, IN residents charged with misdemeanors and low-level felonies. I then worked for the DC Public Defender’s Office, representing DC inmates charged with crimes they allegedly committed in prison. I recently passed the NY bar, and I’m awaiting word from the Navy Judge Advocate General program. I would like to serve my country, while practicing the law.

What I like most about the work that I’ve been doing is the fact that I get the opportunity to be the voice for people who often lack a voice. People facing charges that could negatively affect their lives often know very little about the law. I am humbled whenever someone in such a potentially grave situation leaves his or her welfare in my hands. 

What I’ve learned as an English major helps me everyday. The analytical skills that I developed as an English major are central to my efficiency as a lawyer. My audience changes not only from day to day, but sometimes from hour to hour. Because judges, juries, and defendants can, and usually do, have various educational backgrounds, I am constantly required to tailor my language and analysis. In a fast-paced and often unforgiving environment, failing to properly convey an idea--whether in speech or writing--could mean disaster for the very person I am attempting to help.