Monthly Archives: October 2014

No 1L left behind: Inside the Career Development Office

Is it stereotype or reality? A first-year student scurries into class, realizing too late he’s missing his case briefs for today’s assignment. Then he overhears a classmate bragging about a prestigious internship she just landed for next summer – and it’s only October. “How am I possibly supposed to find a legal internship,” he wonders, “when I can’t even find my homework?”

Tulane Law’s Career Development Office doesn’t want that anxiety to be reality. Assistant Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan and CDO Director Katie O’Leary explain how their office is making sure no 1L is left behind in the legal job search— through professional development, one-on-one counseling and mentoring opportunities.

Q: How would you describe the role of the CDO for first-year law students?

CDO Director Katie O'Leary has an initial career counseling meeting with 1L (name).

CDO Director Katie O’Leary has an initial career counseling meeting with a first-year student.

Sarka: I think the most important thing we do is introduce the first-year class to the steps they need to take, the timeline for taking them and the many opportunities there are. Even though some students come from a legal background, many have no idea what being a lawyer entails or don’t realize how many opportunities there are.

Katie: We try to help them design a job search strategy that’s going to work for them. We also try to think short-term, in that students don’t want to get too stressed out yet about what they’re going to be doing at graduation. We try to focus them on what they’re going to be able to do this summer to get some experience on their resumes.

Sarka: We have classes in which we cover topics that should be relevant to every student, and then we have one-on-one counseling sessions with them individually. . . . One of the things I think people don’t realize is that having a career is really just stepping from one stone to another to get across the river.

Q: Do students tend to focus more on their endgame and not think about the little steps it takes to get there?

Katie: A lot of them come in with very specific goals of what they’d like to do post-grad, which is great. But it’s not always possible to get there right away. So, for example, if they come in and say, “I really want to be in-house post-grad doing something corporate—”

Sarka: Or “working for the Saints.”

Katie: That’s a great example. “I want to be in-house for an NFL team.” It’s our job to show them how they get there — what practical steps they can take for the first summer, for the second summer, what they will do initially after finishing school — and helping them see how these little experiences could build into what they ideally want to do. The other thing is, we know from experience, the interests many come in with are not the interests they have later.

Q: When do you begin working with the 1Ls?

Career Counselor Pat Guzman-Weema and Asst. Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan lead the 1L mini-course on professional development.

Career Counselor Pat Guzman-Weema and Asst. Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan lead the 1L mini-course on professional development.

Sarka: We started the mini-course Monday, Oct. 13. There, we cover topics like resume and cover letter writing, job resources, networking, interviewing and describing different legal practice areas. That’s another thing – students have little exposure to anything other than litigation, so many think they want to be litigators. But there are many other practice areas they may enjoy, and many first-year students haven’t been
exposed to them yet.

Katie: However, we don’t actually meet with the first-year students one-on-one until Oct. 15, and that is due to [National Association for Law Placement] guidelines. Every ABA-accredited law school follows that same timeline, because our 1Ls are supposed to be focusing on assimilating to law school, study habits, learning to brief cases and things like that.

Q: What else should new students expect in terms of developing their career interests and starting the job search?

Katie: One thing we encourage, particularly in the first semester and certainly in the second semester, is for first-year students to explore the educational programming throughout the law school. . . . For instance, if I want to do public interest this summer, I should definitely be at the PILF summer internship program; I want to do judicial, I should be at that. The other thing first-year students do is once they’ve had their initial counsel appointment, gone over what they’re interested in in terms of location and maybe type of position, and reviewed their materials, they should touch base again during the semester. Do they have more polished versions of their resumes now that I’ve made critiques? Do they need me to review their cover letters now that Sarka has gone over how to write one? . . . Once holiday break comes, that’s when we really suggest they get their job search in gear, after focusing on their studies and finals.

Sarka: Over holiday break, first-year students absolutely need to conduct five informational interviews, which we try to prepare them for. Additionally, they are lucky that in the South, there’s a tradition of law firms hosting holiday parties they can attend. Also, some of the bar associations have events, and they should really try to go to at least one of those.

Katie: One of the beauties of being a first-year student is there are a lot of opportunities during school to learn, enrich themselves, develop interests and network, and there are also a lot of opportunities to intern in the summer. It’s very rare that a 1L can’t find a summer internship. . . . There are so many opportunities, and they’re not under the pressure that maybe upperclassmen are to pick something similar to what they plan to do post-grad. They have a lot of latitude to just try things out, which is great.

Coffee with the CDO

Students chat with the CDO’s Pat Guzman-Weema and Sarka Cerna-Fagan over breakfast.

Q: Can first-year students expect any other professional guidance or mentoring?

Sarka: I think the school realizes how difficult the job search can be, so we are trying to give each student like a little village — “it takes a village to raise a child”— surrounding each student with several mentors. For the next incoming class, all students will be matched with alumni mentors when they are admitted. Right now, each first-year student already gets a student mentor, faculty mentor and an assigned career counselor. Once they go through first year and have a better idea of what they want to do, they will be matched with a secondary counselor and, if necessary, a secondary faculty mentor.

Katie: And they can, at any point, receive an additional alumni mentor from us. The plan is that they’ll all be matched with an alumni mentor during the admissions process, but if a student, no matter the year, comes into our office and says, “I’m interested in working in this field or this city, and I want to talk to someone in that arena,” we’ll always put them in touch, to the best of our capabilities, with someone who may practice in that area or live in that market. . . . I think it’s the same thing with student organizations, and 1Ls should take advantage of those opportunities to get additional mentors.

Sarka: Many times, a third-year student can tell a first-year student, “This is what I did for my first summer. Do you want me to call my former boss, tell him about you and put you in touch?” That should be happening more often than it does.

Q: How do you work with incoming students who just aren’t sure what they want to do?

Katie: It happens all the time, and I actually think it’s a good thing, because they’re more open to opportunities. If a student really is not sure what he or she wants to do, we try to promote internships that may be a little more general in nature, where we think the student will get practical, concrete legal skills. Also, students like that may feel anxious about the fact that they don’t know what they want to do, and maybe their classmates are very focused. Part of it is just reassuring them it’s really not a big deal and the whole point of the first summer is to explore.

San Juan

Admissions update: Fall recruiting in full swing

Happy Autumn, and greetings from MSY!

(If you didn’t know, that’s the airport code for our home airport, Louis Armstrong International.)

This is traditionally the time of year that I’m most likely to have airport codes on the brain. My staff and I travel extensively, meeting with prospective applicants at college/university events, as well as law school fairs open to the public, such as the Law School Admissions Council Forums.

So far, it has been an exceptionally beautiful travel season. Here are some pictures I’ve taken of landings in ATL, DAY, BOS and SJU. (OK, so I landed on the beach in Puerto Rico, but that was a well-earned morning off during a week of fairs for both prospective JD and LLM students!)

We have a geographically diverse student body and alumni base, so our student recruitment efforts are national and international in scope.

Tulane Law School’s application for Fall 2015 admission is now active. JD applicants must apply electronically via their Law School Admission Council accounts. LLM applicants are strongly encouraged to do the same.

To encourage early applications this year, the application fee has been waived for all JD applicants who submit their applications on or before Dec. 31, 2014. The application file need not be complete by this date. An applicant’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) file can be transmitted to Tulane later as long as the application is sent before January.

If you have any questions or concerns about the application process, please know that we are here to help. We encourage applicants to meet with admissions office staff when possible. Our extensive fall recruitment calendar for the remainder of the season can be found here. You can also contact members of our team via phone or e-mail.

MSY

David Weinberg’s last glimpse of New Orleans while taking off to meet more prospective students. Photos courtesy of David Weinberg.

Good luck on your applications, and safe travels!

– David

PS: Here’s a final shot taking off from MSY of the
beautiful Crescent City!

– David Weinberg is assistant dean of admission at Tulane Law School

Student summer work reflections: Part two

In our second installment on summer jobs, 2L students share accounts of their work in environmental law, maritime law and college sports compliance.

Jae Sung Shrader (L ’16)

Jae Sung Shrader (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Jae Sung Shrader, pictured with Kevin Koskovich (both L ’16) at Tulane’s Summit on Environmental Law & Policy, worked on the largest environmental settlement in history at the EPA.

Environmental settlement clean-up:
Jae Sung Shrader interned with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 office in Atlanta, tackling issues involved in the largest settlement in environmental law history: a $5.15 billion agreement between the EPA and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation originally related to fraudulent asset conveyance claims.

The parties announced the settlement in April, and the EPA created a multistate environmental response trust to manage the funds, Shrader said. After creating the trust, the EPA evaluated how its policies, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Superfund, were implicated in the settlement.

“This is where my science background came in handy,” Shrader said. “Having already taken environmental sciences, organic chemistry, geology and other courses, being able to identify issues on the fly during conferences with the Department of Justice, various attorneys and consulting scientists was invaluable. When briefs and memoranda needed to be edited, it was easy for me to go through them without tripping on the scientific jargon.”

“After the large litigation was done, the next stage was to figure out the exact percentages that were going to sites around the nation from the trust,” she said. “We focused on the sites in our region, which manages the Southeast – Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas.”

As a legal intern, Shrader worked closely with EPA officials on the settlement administration. “My mentor always tried to include me when he could: Editing DOJ documents, getting my opinion on certain outcomes, bringing me to every meeting with different attorneys and scientists, listening to my questions and incorporating my suggestions into his work,” Shrader said. “It was such a good experience to be in the middle of the process and helping when I could.”

Environmental issues are Shrader’s longtime passion, she said. Before law school, she chaired the Energy and Conservation Organization at the University of Miami, where she managed a $100,000 budget to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. She earned a dual degree from Miami in biological sciences and environmental law and policy.

Shrader spent the second half of her summer working in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, focusing on clean air issues. During the school year, she is actively involved in planning the Energy and Environmental Law Summit.

Jeffrey Notarianni (L ’16)

Jeffrey Notarianni (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Jeffrey Notarianni (L ’15, third row, third from left) participated in Tulane’s study abroad program in Rhodes, Greece before interning with the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy.

Navigating the law of the sea: Jeffrey Notarianni completed an externship coordinating the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy, an international maritime course for attorneys and scholars.

“I had an incredibly interesting summer externship in Greece. While there, I met diplomats, international judges and very high-powered people from around the world,” said Notarianni, who helped prepare and run the three-week program.

“The participants were either attorneys (JDs, or their country’s equivalent) or academics (PhDs), and about 70 percent of them were Permanent Mission to the U.N. or Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their country,” he said. “I’d visit with all of these powerful people, casually drinking coffee with them over breakfast in the morning or having dinner with them at night.”

Notarianni also got to observe a meeting between the Prime Minister of Greece and President of China in his office courtyard and watch the World Cup with Academy students who collectively rooted for all 32 teams.

“Another great thing about working for the Rhodes Academy was that the courses focused on cases that were being litigated in real time,” Notarianni said. “One attorney lectured on maritime delimitation, and he also happened to be the head attorney in the delimitation litigation between Bangladesh and India. Around the time of his lecture, the U.N. arbitration tribunal issued its ruling in his side’s favor. It was great to see him win the case while he was lecturing on the same subject.”

Before the externship, Notarianni took classes in Tulane’s Rhodes summer study abroad program. He learned about the Rhodes Academy opportunity through Professor Günther Handl, who organized two law student positions there this year.

Notarianni, who is working toward a maritime law certificate, said he aimed to practice in that field long before starting at Tulane. During one summer, he crewed a tall ship from Erie, Pennsylvania, and he has been interested in the industry since.

Ben Trachman (L ‘16)

Ben Trachman (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Ben Trachman (L ’15) studies in the law school courtyard after finishing a shift working in Tulane’s athletics compliance office.

Playing the college sports field:
Ben Trachman, a Tulane sports law student, completed an externship with
the NCAA’s enforcement team in Indianapolis, helping to make sure regional college teams complied with regulations.

“As an extern, I received and reviewed self-reported NCAA bylaw violations of institutions and conferences,” Trachman said. “I had an opportunity to use the legislative database (LSDBi) to ensure correct bylaw citation and that proper penalties were imposed by the institution. I also corresponded with institutional contacts regarding the NCAA’s stance on reported secondary violations.”

Trachman also helped police scouting and recruiting of high school athletes. “During my time with the NCAA, I was able to attend various basketball certification events throughout Indiana and ensure that there were no recruiting violations by college coaches of top high school prospects,” he said.

Trachman found the job online through Tulane’s Career Resources Interactive System. He learned more about the position through other Tulane alumni who have worked with NCAA, including Renee Gomila (L ‘00), an associate director of enforcement.

Trachman, a University of Michigan graduate, said he chose Tulane for the sports law program. He’s working toward a sports law certificate, is a junior member of The Sports Lawyers Journal and has worked in Tulane’s athletics compliance office the past two years.