Sharing the realities of a legal career, alumni met with current students in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall last Thursday at "Meet the Law." A the event, set up speed-dating style, students moved from table to table in order to talk with the alumni at each station where they had the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of law practices and gain invaluable advice.
Many alumni urged students to make connections now, both in their internships and jobs as well as with the professors they have courses with on campus. Caroline MacKenzie ‘03 advised “keep(ing) your ears open to things” and “connect(ing) to anyone you can.” MacKenzie, who practices estate planning, said she found her field of law by accident. She lost both her parents during her final year of law school and it became apparent to her how important estate planning is.
Sheila Flaherty ‘87 reminded students that,“UMass is a big school, connect with your professors as early as you can.” Not doing so herself was her biggest undergraduate regret, she said, and pointed out that professors will be the ones required to write letters of recommendation for students applying to law school.
Students also learned about what it means to run your own practice as an attorney. Ray Dinsmore ‘02, who says he likes the “David versus Goliath” nature of the cases he takes on, owns a firm in Northampton focusing on employment. He admitted that being a business owner has its challenges but those challenges are also a benefit, adding “your destiny is in your own hands, the good and bad.”
Antonio Maio ‘90 also emphasized that as a solo practitioner, he has to wear “a lot of different hats.”
Vanessa Martinez ‘06 works primarily in real estate law and advised students in their undergraduate career to do as many internships as they can. She suggested contacting local bar associations as a way of finding such opportunities.
Kristen Parent ‘06 of Northeast Legal Aid answered students questions regarding working in legal services and managing a work life balance with a sometimes emotionally taxing caseload.