By Jaime North, Content Development Specialist

Walking across the graduation stage at Commonwealth University-Mansfield this spring won’t conclude Riley Kleinfelter’s college career, though the star field hockey defender did say goodbye to the playing field in November.

Next up for the political science graduate — law school. A step Kleinfelter says she’s fully prepared and confident for because of Mansfield’s pre-law program and her recent internship with Loomis & Koernig Law Firm in Mansfield.


A group of people playing field hockey.

“One great thing about a small campus is that you tell your professors and advisor what your endgame is, and they’ll do everything in their power to make sure you've reached that goal with no problem,” Kleinfelter says. “Even professors (outside my major) have been extremely helpful with that aspect. If they don't directly know somebody, they know somebody who knows somebody …. that's kind of how I got involved with this internship opportunity.”

Kleinfelter spent her last semester interning with a local law practice that, according to her, ended up being a tremendous benefit over say, a big-time law firm in the city.

“Because it’s a small rural town, they don't just specialize in one specific area,” Kleinfelter says of Loomis & Koernig. “They do everything from real estate law to family law to tax law to criminal law. So, I got to see a wide variety of cases — which was great — because I don't necessarily know what track I want to do in law school. It was a really eye-opening experience.”

According to Kleinfelter, her day varied with the law firm split between trips to the Tioga County Courthouse to observe cases, assist with court filings, tax and deed searches; and in-office duties that included sitting in on client meetings, helping with estate work and tax forms, deed searches. Her internship truly gave her a solid foundation for practicing law, she says.

“They have a huge caseload, a wide variety of clients,” Kleinfelter says. “Basically, they leave it up to me to get involved in whatever I’m interested in and like to do … essentially letting me dabble in whatever I’m feeling like for the day.”

She added, “When you go to law school their job is to be a teacher of the law. They don't necessarily teach you how to become a lawyer. So, once you graduate you know all the necessary information but not necessarily know how to apply that in the courtroom per se or with clients and stuff like that. I would say this (internship) has really started to teach me how to be a lawyer.”

Kleinfelter says she’s taking a gap year as she makes her law school decision, weighing her interest between Widener University, Penn State Dickinson Law, and Rutgers University.

“Going to Mansfield, I was fortunate enough to save a few dollars,” says Kleinfelter, adding her education is no lesser in value than of someone coming from an expensive private school or larger nationally known school. “Obviously with law school that necessarily won’t be the case. Atmosphere will also be very important. When you go to law school, you really need a community. I've come to learn that your fellow law school classmates are not your competitors. They're more so your colleagues, and you're going to need to be able to lean on one another.”

Wherever she lands in the coming year, Kleinfelter knows she’ll be among the more prepared and confident law students in her class.

“Mansfield does their best with what they have and provides their students with all the necessary elements for their success,” Kleinfelter says. “And if they don't have it, they're really good about … ‘okay, let's find a way to make sure you have what you need.’ It’s been great. Here, you get to know everyone and lean on everyone for help. So, it can be easy to gain confidence and be ready for the next step. And I am.”