Interview with M.A. Graduate, Future Lawyer Stan Polit
Alum discusses law school, crisis communication
by the Communication Department
A recent graduate of the M.A. program, Stan Polit, came to visit us in April. Below is our interview with him to check in and see how he is doing.
What do you most fondly remember about your time as an M.A. student?
So many of my favorite memories are tied to the faculty members I had the privilege of interacting with each day. From the very start, I found the graduate faculty to be extremely warm and encouraging. The department’s open door policy made it easy for me to find mentors who had a tremendous impact on my development as both a graduate student and overall person.
How have you drawn on or used your Communication M.A. degree while at law school?
It is often said that law school is all about teaching students to “think like a lawyer.” While that way of thinking is certainly valuable, it is not always the best approach for all problems. The practical nature of the Communication M.A. program has provided me with another framework for thinking about these kinds of challenging issues. In particular, the program reinforced the many ways that communication can shape the way we influence and persuade others. Having this frame of reference has been an invaluable part of my legal education because it has helped me to think more critically about my role as a future oral and written advocate.
What are your plans, if any right now, for post-law school? Any particular area of law on which you'd like to focus?
My goal is to apply both my legal and communication backgrounds to litigation work within a firm setting. I hope that my Communication M.A. will allow me to help clients not only navigate their legal issues, but also the crisis communication and public relations problems which can arise from related events.
Back in 2012, you conducted research on how media outlets used the term "crisis" in their reporting. Have you noticed any changes in the media since then?
Overall, the way the media uses the term “crisis” seems to have largely remained constant. During our initial research, we found that the largest changes in crisis usage could be attributed to large, catastrophic financial events. Now, it appears that the term is being attached to more far-reaching international events, such as the current political situation in the Ukraine. The question still remains whether consistently attaching this term to particular domestic and international events may actually dull our sensitivity to the seriousness of these events.
Are there any other areas of communication on which you are doing any research or focusing?
Currently, I am very interested in the intersection between evolving communication technologies and other areas of the law. For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission sent shockwaves throughout the financial community in 2013 by allowing companies and executives to disclose material financial information via social media accounts. Policy changes such as these reflect how the evolving ways we consume information are forcing regulators to think increasingly as “communicators.” With communication mediums evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, it will be interesting to see whether regulators embrace this new aspect of their identity.