Law student is a former member of the Fourth Estate

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Aleanna Siacon originally double majored in journalism and political science at Wayne State University with the intention of becoming a political beat reporter; and by graduation had worked in newsrooms across Metro Detroit and New York, with stories published everywhere from Hour Detroit and The Detroit Free Press to Inc. magazine, USA Today, the Associated Press, and more.

“Any time I wasn’t in class or doing homework, I was working on a story,” she says.

She added a third string to her bow by tacking on a history major after studying abroad her sophomore year in Ghana as part of WSU President Emeritus Irvin D. Reid’s African Democracy Project program. A small group of students took an honors history course and carried out research projects in Accra, the capital of the country in West Africa.

“I thought it was amazing—we got to meet with Ghanaian students, two former presidents of Ghana, a U.S. foreign-service officer, and tour the Ghanaian High Court complex,” Siacon says.

“During the experience I realized how versatile and exciting history can be—you can study anything from politics and labor systems to the history of science and technology. The major also complemented my journalism and political science studies really well.”

Siacon loved life as a journalist.

“It was busy, but super exciting,” she says. “I’m very interested and passionate about investigative news and explanatory pieces. I once completed a comprehensive look into the Detroit Police Department’s body cameras for Hour Detroit magazine and looked into the Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on toxic paint thinners for The Detroit Free Press.

“My undergraduate experience was very unusual as a result – while juggling my classes, I worked during polar vortexes, visited crime scenes, explored historical sites and honey bee farms, took circus performance lessons, chased after presidential candidates, you name it.”

In her junior and senior year, she worked on the breaking news desk at The Free Press.

“I got to learn from some of the best local journalists,” she says. “Everyone in that newsroom is kind, passionate, and tough as nails. My work ran the gamut from crime and trending news to attending local parades and doing Facebook Live weather updates. I once joined the White House Press pool during a presidential visit to Michigan and got to be on the tarmac as Air Force One flew in.

“I was also very privileged to be part of the paper’s coverage of Aretha Franklin’s homecoming - from the visitation and tribute concert to the final procession featuring a sea of pink Cadillacs.”

After her Detroit Free Press internship, Siacon was hired as a freelance reporter and assisted with breaking news and investigative projects. She published more than 650 stories for The Detroit Free Press/USA Today Network, which garnered more than 13.66 million online page views.

The summer after sophomore year, she interned at The Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.; and the summer before her senior year, she moved to New York City to intern at the business magazine Inc. through the American Society of Magazine Editors program.

“I learned so much while helping to background check founders and their businesses for Inc.’s annual lists of America’s fastest-growing businesses,” she says. “As part of the program we also got to meet and network with editors and writers at publications like, The New Yorker, Elle, Esquire, O: The Oprah Magazine, plus media partnership professionals at Twitter and Instagram’s NYC headquarters. I was also able to visit The New York Times newsroom while in the city and see the process of how their front page comes together.”

Siacon found it very hard to swap the world of the news for the legal field.

“However, news moves very fast and newsrooms don’t have endless resources,” she says. “I found myself listening to people’s stories sometimes and wishing that I could do more. You don’t always get to see how things resolve as a reporter, because you have to move onto the next pressing story.

“I was really drawn to the law because I wanted to help play a role in the resolutions I didn’t always get to see. I liked the idea of getting to be an advocate and having more ability to shape the outcome of a story. I also think the writing, research, and communications skills I developed as a journalist are very useful in the practice of law.”

Siacon is now in her 2L year at Wayne Law. This year, she joined both Law Review and Moot Court. 

A proud member of the Wolverine Bar Association, Siacon is president of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) and secretary of the Health Law Society.

“Both are great groups connecting students with similar interests and aims,” she says. “Our activities are all virtual this year, but we still plan to host Zoom get-togethers, panels, and keep up with everyone online.”

Her position with APALSA is particularly important to Siacon, who is passionate about encouraging more diversity in the legal field and cultivating community among students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Born in Iloilo in the Philippines, she came to the United States at the age of two when her mother, a registered nurse, immigrated and was able to bring her husband—also a registered nurse—and daughter to America. The family settled in Warren, and move to Chesterfield Township in Macomb County when Siacon was in middle school.

“Upon graduation, I will be the first practicing attorney in my family,” she says. “However, before law school, I really didn’t know very many attorneys personally. Navigating a new field can be daunting, and I think groups like APALSA are important because it’s a great way to bring together a network of students who have similar backgrounds – which in turn, can become a powerful resource.”

This past summer, Siacon was a summer associate at Plunkett Cooney, working in-person.

“While the firm took precautions to ensure safety and social distancing, there was no shortage of opportunities to learn,” she says. “I was able to observe depositions and a mediation, and assist attorneys across a wide variety of practice areas with research. Everyone I worked with was extremely knowledgeable and open to questions. I really enjoyed the experience and I’m happy to say I’ve accepted an offer to return to the firm as a summer associate again next year.”

The experience has also had her thinking of becoming a litigator; although she is still not set on a particular practice area, she is interested in employment law, corporate immigration, torts, and disability law.

She also spent a few weeks as a judicial extern for Judge Mark Goldsmith at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan this summer.

“The experience with the court was completely remote, but incredibly valuable,” she says.

“I learned so much from Judge Goldsmith and his clerks. I spent a lot of time there honing my legal writing and citation skills while also getting to observe some Zoom proceedings.”

Transitioning to law school online amid the pandemic has required a lot of juggling, she notes; and to de-stress, she loves baking.  

“My family has been really great about working together,” she says.

“I have two younger brothers. One is in high school, while the other has autism and attends a special education program and ABA therapy. My parents are nurses and both have still been going to take care of patients amid the pandemic. It requires some flexibility, but we all coordinate depending on everyone’s needs and schedules.

“With my family, everything has always been a team effort, but the most important thing is that we take care of each other.”



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