Recently, Full Sail graduate Shannon Kiser joined members of the Pre-Law Society for an online discussion about his time as an undergraduate, his subsequent tenure at law school, and his work as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of West Virginia, Appellate Division.
A musician since high school, Shannon began his Full Sail journey in the Recording Arts program before enrolling in the Entertainment Business bachelor’s program. He’d grown up in the Washington D.C. metro area, in proximity to the Library of Congress. Initially, he thought he might want to become a literary agent. But he says his time at Full Sail opened his eyes to other possibilities in the world of media and beyond.
“One of the cool things about studying Entertainment Business is seeing all the machinations that make the entertainment industry function,” says Shannon. “There are all these rules and processes that fuel how movies or games or albums get made.”
After graduation, he worked in finance for a couple of years before enrolling in law school. The curriculum was different from what he’d experienced at Full Sail, but Shannon found a lot of the cognitive processes to be similar. For instance, both industries require creative problem solving, mental agility and stamina.
“Coming from a creative business background has also allowed me to make unique arguments in law school and in court. It’s a refreshing point of view that I have by virtue of my education, and it enabled me to stand out in my practice,” he says.
Now, Shannon works as an appellate prosecutor for the State of West Virginia, which means he represents the state in appeal cases that reach the state Supreme Court. It’s a position held by only a handful of people in West Virginia, which means about a fifth of all cases go through Shannon.
“I had the opportunity to work for a law firm right out of school, but my wife is a nurse and seeing the social gratification she got out of her job inspired me to work for the state,” he says. “Since I didn’t come from a pre-law program prior to law school, I get to shape the law in my current job with a more diverse perspective based on my past experiences.”
As for advice for students thinking about law school, he says research is key. “Going into it with realistic expectations, from applying to getting through a program, will make it much easier to get through law school,” he says. “That’s why I wanted to talk to students in the Pre-Law Society, to give them a better idea if this is something they want to pursue.”