Tolon Pursues Her Passion for Law

Tolon Pursues Her Passion for Law

By Andrew Shaughnessy

Fresh out of Fordham Law School, George Fox alumna and former ASC student body president Elizabeth Tolon (G12) is living the dream as a young lawyer in New York City. Despite her current success, she didn’t always plan on going into law. In fact, she began her years at George Fox studying music education. “I wanted to be a high school choir teacher,” she explains, “but I’d always loved political science.”

At first, Tolon settled for taking a few political science classes on the side, working toward a minor. Before long, supported and encouraged by professor Ron Mock and former professor Michael MacLeod, she added political science as a second major and began to explore new options.

“I appreciated how Ron approached difficult topics, whether about the global environment or state and local issues,” Tolon says. “When I asked him about it, he said, ‘You should go to law school. They’ll teach you how to think.’”

Rather than jumping straight to law school after graduation, Tolon decided to spend several years pursuing things she loved. She worked for the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, and served in the food and beverage industry, learning about good food and fine wine. By the time she applied and was accepted to law school, Tolon was emotionally and mentally ready. “I had taken the time to get to know myself,” she says.

Tolon did well at Fordham, eventually landing a job as an associate with Ropes & Gray LLP, a large international law firm. Today, she works as an associate in the litigation department, defending large corporations in court cases and doing pro bono work advocating for families separated at the U.S./Mexico border. It’s high-speed, varied, challenging work – the sort that can easily consume a life – but Tolon keeps herself balanced. Just after passing the bar, and before starting work at the firm, she pursued and earned her sommelier certification. Next year, she is marrying her “law school sweetheart.”

“I love my life,” she says. “I’m maybe one of the few young lawyers who really loves their life.”

Looking back, Tolon credits George Fox’s emphasis on community as being a major influence on her philosophy of a life well lived. She carried that value system with her to Fordham and found a group of like-minded lawyers who supported one another both as professionals and, more importantly, as human beings.

“I have this amazing, strong community from law school that’s built around common beliefs,” she says. “Loving your neighbor, supporting those who need you, defending the defenseless, and, throughout, holding true to who you are.”

This, perhaps, is the most remarkable thing about Tolon’s story. Yes, she’s an achiever in a challenging profession. Yet throughout her journey, she’s not lost sight of the things that make a life beautiful: love, character, the support of a solid community, and relaxing with friends and a glass of wine.