Award-winning attorney draws on foundation built in the College of IST

Jessica Hallman
May 10, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A senior columnist at TownHall. A contributing writer at Forbes. A national media legal analyst. An award-winning trial attorney, who has been named one of the best lawyers in Washington, D.C.

These are not typical career highlights for a Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology graduate, but they are just a few of the accomplishments that are prominent on the resume of Marina Medvin — a 2006 alumna who has been in pursuit of success since she was a young girl.

“Having been born in the USSR and immigrating to America at a young age, I always wished to live out the American dream,” she said. “Penn State felt perfect. There was a harmonious quality to University Park; Americana at its best.”

Paying for college on her own, she was careful to choose a major and to only take classes that she felt were an investment in her future. She was interested in business, she said, but took a leap of faith by enrolling in the then-School of IST.

“I was sold on the pitch that IST integrated business with emerging technologies and that this was the field of the future,” she said. “I am a true ENTP [personality type], so the entrepreneurial nature of IST was perfect for me. I felt right at home.”

Tech background helps win major fraud and hacking cases

The education she received in the College of IST has served as a foundation for her professional success. Recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as a top attorney in Washington, D.C., Medvin said that her IST degree has been instrumental in the defense of several serious criminal cases involving technology.

“I remember first thanking my lucky stars for my technology background when an FBI 10 Most Wanted fugitive was being prosecuted for fraud involving technology, among other things."

— Marina Medvin, 2006 College of IST alumna 

“I remember first thanking my lucky stars for my technology background when an FBI 10 Most Wanted fugitive was being prosecuted for fraud involving technology, among other things,” she said. “Then, I had the Anonymous Operation Payback case and the WikiLeaks contributor case in which CIA Director John Brennan was hacked.”

She added, “Of course, IST was on my mind the entire time as I went through discovery in these matters. I’ve relied on my IST knowledge through various cases in my career.”

Looking back at her time on campus, Medvin said that former Professor Gerry Santoro made the biggest impact on her.

“We disagreed on absolutely everything, yet he believed in me wholeheartedly,” she said. “The ability to disagree with someone while maintaining mutual respect was a very important life lesson.”

Medvin said that her IST background helps her in articles that she has written for Forbes, including her latest story outlining how a vehicle’s event data recorder, or black box, could be utilized as a witness in court.

Her well-rounded expertise regularly lands Medvin as a legal analyst for several national television and print media outlets, including ABC News, The Washington Post, and Yahoo! News. She also serves as owner and senior trial attorney of her own firm, Medvin Law.

'I concentrated on my own path to dominance'

Marina Medvin

Marina Medvin, a 2006 graduate of the College of Information Sciences and Technology, and her daughter on a visit to State College.

IMAGE: Penn State

While the gender gap in the legal industry isn’t near as high as it is in science, technology, engineering and math fields, women still represent just 38 percent of lawyers nationally, according to the U.S. Census.

Medvin has chosen to ignore the gender gap as she climbed up the ranks in her career, focusing on herself and her own abilities.

“I didn’t think about being a woman; I thought about being successful,” she said. “I didn’t worry about anyone else’s ‘domination’ and instead I concentrated on my own path to dominance. My state of mind made me stronger and made me a true contender.”

She instills these values in her young daughter, whom Medvin cites as her life’s greatest accomplishment.

“The truth is that no matter where you go in life, and no matter how much money you make or how nice your car is, it’s all worthless if you have no one to share those things with,” she said. “Family is the most important part of life, and being able to balance my work and my family gives me the greatest sense of joy.”

She passes lessons that she shares with her daughter on to current and future students — especially women — in the College of IST, with this advice:

“Be you. You are who you are. Love yourself. Embrace yourself. Concentrate on your strengths. Don’t let insecurity enter your mind. Don’t restrict yourself. Unleash yourself onto the world. Think strong and you will be strong.”

Last Updated May 21, 2019