Harper Finds Outlet by Competing in Triathlons

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C|M|LAW 3L student Natalie Harper

One of the rewards of law school for most students is being put to the test mentally.  Cleveland-Marshall College of Law 3L student Natalie Harper is no exception in that area.  However, most law students do not then decide to ramp the challenge up another degree physically.  This is where Harper differs from the majority. 

In her first year at C|M|LAW, Harper got together with a group of fellow law school students and formed an intramural soccer team.  Harper, a 2009 graduate of Otterbein University, played three seasons of soccer collegiately. 

“It was a nice way to get us out of the law building and to get away from studying while still interacting with classmates,” remarked Harper.

While she enjoyed that experience, the next year Harper and a small group of law students decided to take the challenge a step further and join the Cleveland State University Triathlon Club.  Harper had never completed or even attempted a triathlon prior to her time at C|M|LAW, but took to the races immediately.   The CSU club has a professional coach and is a member of USA Triathlon and the Mid East Collegiate Triathlon Conference.

“I saw the club through campus e-mail and I had always wanted to try something like competing in a triathlon,” said Harper.  “The first one you do is very intimidating but the races and training are a great way of maintaining a balance between life and school.”

The group works out several times per week and the training has paid off for Harper.  She has now completed six triathlons and most recently took first place overall in the female division in the 2013 Cleveland Triathlon Club Indoor Triathlon.  Harper has also qualified for the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships this April in Tempe, Arizona.

It is astonishing that Harper found time to become a competitive triathlete considering everything else on her plate the past two years.  Harper has worked in six different positions as an extern or law clerk over that period.  

Harper competing in running and biking legs of the 2012 MidEast Conference Championships.

“Cleveland-Marshall really pushes its students to get experiential learning, not just going to classes and keeping your head in a book but really getting out there and getting as much practical experience as you can,” explained Harper.  “The environment fosters confidence that I can do professional work on my own but there is still a clinical professor or supervising attorney who is there to help along the way.”

She has previously externed at the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District Legal Division and U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review. The 3L student has also been a law clerk for attorney Deborah L. Mack and the Morrow County Prosecuting Attorney and worked at the Cleveland-Marshall Fair Housing Clinic.  She is now externing at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Civil Division, Northern District of Ohio.

“It is very research and writing intensive and I hope to really hone in on those skills,” explained Harper about her latest externship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  “There’s a great deal of litigation going on and it’s a big opportunity to represent the U.S. Government.”

Harper has worked on many intriguing cases during these positions but one in particular stands out for her. While working in the Fair Housing Clinic at C|M|LAW in 2011, she was able to work on a case being brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, an opportunity very few law students get.

“It was a challenging experience and involved lots of research as I jumped in on the end of the case before it went before the Supreme Court,” recalled Harper.  “It went before the court toward the end of November (2011) and the clinic students and a few of the staff attorneys were able to go to Washington D.C. to sit in on oral arguments for the case.  The whole time I was sitting there listening to the arguments and the questions each justice had for the attorneys thinking, ‘I know how to answer these questions.’  It was a great once in a lifetime experience.”

The diversity Harper bring to the table, both on her resume and as a well-balanced individual always looking of a challenge, will no doubt help her going forward after graduation.

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