My Rural Roots Made MSLF’s Legal Fellowship a Natural Fit

MSLF’s legal fellows program isn’t just rewarding and fun: it’s an opportunity for foundation staff to work with and mentor some of the best rising talent in the legal field. Kaitlyn Schiraldi recently finished her fellowship and shared some thoughts on her experience.    

Where I Come From

Kaitlyn Schiraldi

I am from the rural parts of the United States that most people forget about. Yes, you read that correctly, “parts” as in plural. My dad has been with the Farm Credit system for over twenty years and we lived where he had customers to do business with. Considering his customers are farmers and ranchers, there was never work for him in the city.

In elementary school I lived in Monte Vista, Colorado. My classmates were the children of potato farmers and migrant workers of the San Luis Valley. In fifth grade I went to school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I witnessed first-hand the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the largest and most well-known rodeo, in the town that keeps cowboy culture alive.

I went to middle school just outside Elko, Nevada, where I branded calves with third-generation ranch-owning buckaroos in Jiggs, Nevada. My freshman year of high school was spent in Fredericksburg, Texas. Farmers in the Hill Country of Texas grow peaches and pecans in abundance, despite the staggering heat. I graduated high school in Fort Worth, Texas, otherwise known as “Cowtown,” famous for its Stock Show and Rodeo.

I’ve stayed true to my roots and am in law school at Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, where the primary industries are cotton, oil, and wind. I wanted to spend my summer at Mountain States Legal Foundation because the Foundation defends the culture and way of life that defined my childhood and informs my adulthood. The Foundation fights for the rights of conservative-minded Americans that are out-shouted by the loud left.

MSLF Legal Fellowship

This summer, I learned the crucial distinction between grazing permits and grazing preferences; how predation by federally-protected grizzly bears is taking a toll on Wyoming livestock growers; what process is due when a person’s right to concealed carry a gun outside the home is taken away; and how to combat the government when it denies a mining permit three decades after the applicant properly applied.

Most of these issues are specific to the West, so being a legal fellow here has been a unique experience. The Foundation does not let the whims of modern cultural movements change the types of controversial cases it takes on. The Foundation does not let environmentalists tyrannize its clients. MSLF protects and respects the western way of life. It has been a pleasure to work alongside similarly passionate individuals to defend an often-forgotten people of the American West.

Kaitlyn Schiraldi is entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law.

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