While she was an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, Inga Miller was recruited to work at the school paper and found she enjoyed telling stories. "I liked being a voice for people who didn't otherwise have a voice," she said. That early exposure to a written form of advocacy would start her on a career path in journalism and law. Miller completed her B.A. in Politics with a minor in Writing and went on to write for several newspapers including the Santa Cruz County Sentinel, Fairfield Daily Republic, Tri Valley Herald, and the Modesto Bee, where she spent five years as a general assignment reporter.
One of the stories that had a particularly strong impact on her was about a single mother trying to get her nursing degree who was dismissed from a program due to a mistaken result on a drug test. Despite taking another drug test to clear her name, the school would not review the clean blood screen. A local attorney read Miller's article and wound up representing the young mother. "It was really nice to be able to produce an unbiased report and let the public decide what to do with that information," Miller said. "In this instance, a member of the public was able to bring a legal action on [the subject's] behalf. That was very rewarding."
Perhaps with advocacy in mind, Miller began to consider law school -
but it was also for practical reasons. She saw a legal education as a
valuable tool for improving her journalistic skills and a great way to
learn about additional resources to develop stories. She also realized
that as the world of journalism was becoming more and more uncertain in
the digital age with newspapers folding and opportunities for reporters
decreasing, she wanted to keep her professional options open.
Originally from the small East Bay town of Orinda, CA, Miller had only been to Los Angeles once as a child. She found out about Southwestern when she was studying for the LSAT and received an email about the Biederman Institute. "I thought this would be a perfect way to learn about the intersection between journalism/media and law and have professors with an interest in media," she said. "I came down to visit, and I loved it. Professors went out of their way to speak with me and answer all of my questions. I wandered out by the Westmoreland Building and saw a group of SCALE people. They all told me how much they loved the program and that they worked really hard, but it was really worth it. There was an intensity about that group that I really appreciated."
Miller chose the SCALE program, and has found that her ability to write concisely - as well as prioritize her obligations in and out of the classroom - has helped her perform in the challenging two-year program. She has been able to pursue some extracurricular activities including serving as Treasurer for Teen Court. During the summer she externed for the City Attorney of Los Angeles, Land Use Division, researching and writing interrogatories for issues related to zoning and development. After law school, Miller would like to stay connected to the media, perhaps working as legal counsel for a newspaper or other news organization, but she realizes the opportunities are tremendous. "There are a lot of things about being a lawyer that are similar to being a journalist, and a legal education gives me the chance to expand my choices."