Jonathan Savilla

Juris Doctor | M.A. German 2011

Criminal Prosecutor

Instructor of German


Postgraduate Study and Related Experiences:

After receiving my M.A. in German at CSULB where I also studied French, Russian, and Latin, I taught German at various institutions throughout Southern California, including the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles Valley College, and Cerritos College. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work as a visiting English teacher at two Catholic secondary schools in Salzburg, Austria. Shortly after returning from Austria, I was awarded a scholarship to study law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, while I continued to teach evening German classes at Cerritos College. In law school, I specialized in criminal law, trial advocacy, and appellate advocacy. I also interned at different branches of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, specifically the Torrance Victim Impact Unit, the Long Beach Juvenile Department, and the Preliminary Hearing Unit at the Clara Foltz Criminal Justice Center, where I represented the State of California at preliminary hearings involving serious felonies. After passing the California Bar Exam in 2022, I also sat for the Nevada Bar exam, and expect to continue my work in criminal prosecution, while continuing to teach online German classes in Southern California.

How did your studies in language and culture prepare you for your current job?

The study of language and culture have been invaluable in my career as a language instructor and as a lawyer. Studying new languages helped me develop strong communication skills, essential in both teaching and in law. Strong communication is critical in helping students learn a new language as well as in presenting a clear and persuasive legal argument. Moreover, the coursework I did in the German M.A. program at CSULB required me to research, read, analyze, and interpret complex literary texts and present my work before an audience of literary scholars. Through this process, I acquired essential critical thinking and analytical skills that I brought with me to the legal world, where lawyers are required to conduct extensive legal research, read and analyze complex legal texts, and develop persuasive arguments based on the findings.

Do you have any advice for students considering language and culture study?

Learning a new language may seem like a daunting and uncomfortable experience at first, but the benefits you can attain make the effort worthwhile. It takes time, practice, and persistence to develop proficiency in a new language, and like any other skill, mistakes are an inevitable part of the process. But the more you acknowledge and learn from your mistakes, the easier the effort becomes. It may take time, but progress will come with enough persistence, even if you don’t see it immediately. Learning a new language isn’t just about sitting in a classroom and memorizing words and writing conjugation tables. It’s about seeing the world from entirely new perspectives. By studying a new language, you can gain a deeper understanding of the cultures, customs, and traditions of people from all over the world. In doing so, you may even acquire a better understanding of your own culture from a fresh, new perspective. By learning a new language, you can connect with new people, travel to new places, and find opportunities that may not otherwise have been available to you. So step out of your comfort zone, learn a new language, and discover a new world waiting right outside your doorstep.