Sarah Preston

prestonK-State graduation year: 2004
Degree: BS in political science, minors in women’s studies and leadership studies
Other degree received: Juris Doctorate (JD), University of Kansas, May 2007
Current employer: Office of the General Counsel for the Social Security Administration
Position: Assistant Regional Counsel

How many times did you change your major during college?

Zero.

Describe the process of choosing your major:

I knew before starting college that I wanted to go to law school. You can major in just about anything and then go to law school, so my choice of a major was wide open. I thought about several different majors that interested me, including English, psychology, biology, political science, and sociology. I settled on political science because it had so much room for electives, and it overlapped with my other areas of interest. 

What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?

Student Alumni Board
Student Senate Intern
Student Senate Secretary
Chimes Junior Honor Society
Leadership Studies instructor
College of Arts and Sciences Intro. to Honors Program instructor
Baptist Campus Center peer minister
Finalist for Rhodes and Truman Scholarships
Christian organizations: Ichthus, Navigators, and Campus Crusade for Christ
Intern for Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf

Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?

Yes, while in law school I interned with a federal judge for one year and worked at law firms during the summers.

Describe the process of finding your first job:

I researched online, spoke to friends, family, and peers about my field, and participated in an on-campus interview process. I completed the second stage of interviewing at several law firms and then clerked with them over the summer, which was essentially a three-month-long interview. 

Briefly describe a typical day at your job:

I arrive at work anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., work for over eight hours, and then go home.  I have my own office and dress in business casual. I work primarily on the computer.  I spend very little time on the phone or meeting with people in person. Right now I have minimal client contact. The bulk of my work is handling cases of people who have been denied Social Security Disability benefits at the administrative level and have filed suit in federal court. When the case reaches my desk, it is in a form of a “transcript” contatining all the facts and records of the case. I review the transcript, which on average is about 500 to 700 pages long, although some are thousands of pages long. 

I determined whether the judge followed the law and then either defend the judge’s decision in court or send it back to the judge for review and possible correction.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Everything! It is the perfect fit for me. I enjoy being able to control my hours and my pace of work.  I enjoy being able to focus on only one thing at a time.  Everyone in my office is very friendly. I enjoy that it is low stress, and I don’t have to take any of my work home. 

I enjoy working for the government because I feel like what I do helps others. There are also great benefits. I worked in a private practice law firm before coming here and I know that this is a much better fit for me. 

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Staying focused and on task for the entire day can be challenging. Luckily, I find what I do to be interesting, but I know it is not for everyone.

What advice would you give someone interested in your field?

Talk to as many different kinds of lawyers as you can. Figure out what type of law you want to do.  Know what is important to you in life and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.