A native of Lansing, Mich., Brian Jackson, ’07, GR ’09, transferred to Indiana State University to be a two-sport athlete, but he discovered me about himself along way – including his career path in law.
“I transferred to ISU because I wanted to continue athletics as a two-sport athlete – football and track – at a reputable University that was not too far away from my hometown,” said Jackson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s in political science. “When I came to ISU, I came alone and did not know anyone. All I had were dreams and determination and that is what you need to be an achiever at ISU. Indiana State means growth to me. It’s a place to prove to yourself that you can achieve your dreams.”
Jackson, a now married father of two, was introduced to his eventual career as a lawyer by his Indiana State criminology professor, Lisa Decker.
“She was an attorney and former prosecutor and taught a criminal law class that introduced me to law and was very interesting. She was the first person, other than my late mother, that thought I would be a good attorney and encouraged me to go to law school,” he said. “For undergrad, I chose political science because I was interested in running for office someday and I thought that PSCI would be the best choice for that. What I did not realize is that there are not many entry-level PSCI jobs to be had.”
Jackson was fortunate to graduate in four years and with one year left on his athletic scholarship eligibility, he decided to pursue his master’s degree that would make him more competitive in the job market.
Jackson’s academic advisor, Linda Maule, helped him choose a master’s program and guided him along the way. Before graduating with his master’s degree, Jackson interned in the Indiana State legislature for state Sens. Jim Arnold and Karen Tailian, who represented districts in northwest Indiana. In 2010, Jackson enrolled in Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., focusing on criminal law and social justice.
He was on the nationally-recognized Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy team, representing indigent defenders with misdemeanor offenses in the Criminal Justice Clinic and taught a “Know Your Rights During Police Encounters” class for local teens. He also interned at the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C. and at the public defender office in Jacksonville, Fla.
After becoming a licensed attorney and moving home to Lansing in 2013, Jackson worked as an assistant prosecutor in Eaton County, Michigan and an assistant Lansing city attorney. He founded Jackson Law PLLC, a small law practice focusing on criminal defense and family law matters, in 2016. The next year, he was elected to the Lansing City Council, where he is in the second year of a four-year term representing the Fourth Ward, also where he grew up in northwest Lansing.
“I chose ISU’s nationally-recognized criminology program and I do not regret it,” he said. “ISU introduced me to my eventual career. It’s a place where you can write your own story.”