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A Lawyer in the Making

Coyleen Greenwell shares her passion for law and dream of working in the court system.

After 10 years of studying for a bachelor’s degree in political science, Coyleen Greenwell decided that it was time for her to chase her dream of becoming a lawyer and attend law school.

Two years ago, wife, mother and student Coyleen Greenwell moved to Moscow to finish her undergraduate degree in political science.

“My husband and I quit our jobs and sold our house and moved our kids up here and we’ve loved Moscow since!” Greenwell said.

Greenwell graduated with a bachelor’s in political science in 2021, and is projected to graduate law school in 2025.

“I’d like to start out in public defense and then eventually work into prosecution, and after that I’ll see where it takes me,” Greenwell said, further elaborating that it is important to her to understand both the prosecution and defense side of the legal system in order to look at every case as clearly and thoroughly as she can.

Greenwell explained that the public defense system is incredibly overloaded, making it difficult if not impossible for everyone to get the representation that is their right.

“The constitutional right to representation in our courts is something that I think is incredibly important,” Greenwell said.

Law, no matter the field is going to be difficult, there are going to be times that you hear things you don’t want to hear, and you’re going to have to deliver bad news. Despite this, Greenwell’s passion lies with the legal system.

“You’re going to see some really sad stuff,” she said. “But in the end that’s why I’m doing it, you know? To help rectify those wrongs and to give people resources to know what to do, that’s why I want to do law.”

Though she said she would likely follow a path of criminal law, Greenwell also expressed interest in tribal law.

“What I’m passionate about is making sure that the treaties that they signed are honored because that’s law, treaties are law,” Greenwell explained. “And making sure that they are able to maintain and dictate their sovereignty instead of the United States government telling them, oh your sovereignty only extends this far and doesn't include that.”

Ultimately though, Greenwell believes that her place is with criminal law.

“A lot of indigenous students are being sent to school and law school by their tribes and they’re able to represent their tribes,” she said. “I don’t want to be someone in that field if they’re filling up those roles. But I definitely want to be someone who is involved and helping out when I can and where I can.”

Coyleen Greenwell
Coyleen Greenwell

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