Elizabeth Arentz is reminded of her alma mater every time she walks into her office at Porter, Wright, Morris, & Arthur, LLP (PWMA) in Columbus, Ohio.
Arentz, who earned her bachelor’s in economics with a minor in communication from Wittenberg in 2016, graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in May 2019 and began working as an associate attorney at PWMA after passing the bar exam. Focusing her practice on estate planning, wealth preservation, and commercial real estate, Arentz discovered something special about the place not long after joining the firm.
“It wasn’t until my first week of work that I realized the ‘Morris’ in Porter, Wright, Morris, and Arthur was a member of the Wittenberg class of 1930,” said Arentz, who is originally from Huntington, West Virginia. “I immediately did a Google search and found that he was also very generous with his time and money, serving on Wittenberg’s Board of Directors and donating Wittenberg’s track facility. I know that the Wittenberg connection is a strong one, especially since the school is so small and places great value on tradition. I love that when I see the ‘Morris’ in PWMA, I know there is a shared experience, albeit 86 years apart.”
The Wittenberg connection goes even deeper at the firm.
“I experience the Wittenberg connection regularly at Porter Wright,” said Arentz, who was a member of Alpha Delta Pi, Class Cabinet and fostered a puppy with 4Paws for Ability during her time at Wittenberg. “Lori Kimm, a partner I work with in the Trusts & Estates practice group graduated from Wittenberg in 1984. The firm’s human resources director, Linda Morris, is also a Wittenberg alum, which connected us during my interview process with the firm.”
As an associate in PWMA’s corporate department, Arentz works in the due diligence process necessary for deals to close in commercial real estate, and prepares deeds for transfer, wills, trusts, and ancillary documents necessary for estate planning.
“When I was at Wittenberg, I always wanted to be an attorney one day, but to be honest, the idea absolutely terrified me,” Arentz said. “I am a first-generation attorney, and I had heard many horror stories about the difficulty of law school and how attorneys just work all the time and have no personal lives. I am happy to say that neither has proved true for me. I absolutely loved law school and have yet to struggle to find the time for the things that fulfill me outside of my career. As for the bar exam, though, it was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done by far. It’s two and a half days of reciting and applying the law that you’ve memorized over the years of law school, all while being crammed into one giant room with 800-plus other hopeful lawyers. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
Arentz credits her liberal arts education that emphasized writing and strongly advises others to consider the path she chose if they plan to pursue a law degree.
“Wittenberg led me down my career path in a variety of ways,” she said. “I would absolutely recommend an economics major to anyone considering law school. The exam style of economics exams is extremely similar to law school exams: you must take the principles you have learned and show you truly understand them by applying them to a set of facts to ultimately reach a conclusion. The writing requirement at Wittenberg was very helpful throughout law school. I’m not sure I would have done so much writing as an economics major at another university. This proved very helpful as there is a great deal of writing in both law school and in the practice of law. I felt confident in my writing going into law school so that I could focus more narrowly on the law and developing my legal writing style.”
While at Wittenberg Arentz participated in an internship in Washington, D.C. as part of the 14-week Washington Semester, operated by the consortium Lutheran College Washington Semester. It was this experience that would lead her down the path to her current career choice.
“My absolute best experience at Wittenberg was participating in the program in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “I interned full-time at a think tank that was right across the street from The White House, the American Action Forum, while still going to class at night. I ended up staying the summer in D.C. and got to work at the Think Tank for eight full months. I learned what it was like to work full time, how to interact with my super successful superiors, and I also saw a lot of really amazing things. The president of the think tank was (the late senator) John McCain’s former economic advisor, and most other employees there had campaign experience, so I heard many fascinating stories. I got to meet McCain, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and other politicians during my time there. After my D.C. experience, I knew that I was equipped for a fast-paced career. Something about the work just excited me. I also knew I absolutely had to live in a city. It was in D.C. that I started being mentored by other attorneys and seeing the various career paths a law degree could lead to. By the end of my time there I knew I wanted to pursue a career in law.”
She feels her career as an attorney is very similar to her time at Wittenberg.
“I do not simply sit at my desk and work. As an attorney, beyond strictly legal work, it is important to get involved within your community, get to know the people around you, and give back,” she said. “Wittenberg equipped me to find that balance between work and community involvement. I also strongly feel that all of the student involvement opportunities Wittenberg offers indirectly prepared me for my career path. And, Wittenberg professors are truly dedicated to their students. Sometimes, you just need people to believe in you when you don’t always believe in yourself, and I experienced that from multiple professors at Wittenberg.”