Friday, May 22, 2015

Tips for Successfully Launching Your Legal Career

As you start your summer internships, it's important to understand that you're no longer just a student, but also an attorney. You want to approach all your communications, relationships, and work projects intentionally and professionally. Along those lines, the CDO will be sharing tips and strategies on how to make the most of your summer experiences. This week we bring you an article written by Anthony Grumbach, the director of professional development at Farella Braun + Martel LLP, and a board member of the Professional Development Consortium. Although written for new associates, all tips are extremely relevant and applicable to legal interns and clerks as well.


Tips for Successfully Launching Your Legal Career

Launching a career as an entry-level associate is exciting, energizing, and—let’s face it—discombobulating.  You’re working with new people and confronting high, often unspoken, expectations.  You’re wondering how to translate the common truisms that barrage new associates—“Focus on the important stuff!" “Act like an owner!” “Project a positive attitude!”—into something that you can actually do at work.

While we haven’t found a complete cure yet for the discombobulation that accompanies the first year of legal practice, you can successfully launch your legal career and sail through even the most turbulent waters by focusing on four key concepts and some simple tips that will allow you to put these concepts into action.

I.  Get the Assignment Right

Before plunging into an assignment, confirm that you properly understand it.  The assigning attorney’s years of experience might create entirely different assumptions about a project’s scope, and might make it hard to remember what it’s like for a first-year associate to navigate through a task for the first time.

When receiving an assignment, take the initiative to quickly and confidently ask the right questions:

  • Restate the assignment:  “You want me to write a ____, correct?  The key issues are ___, right?”
  • Get a clear deadline:  “You want this by ___?” or “Will it work for you if I give this to you on ___?”
  • Clarify when and how to check in:  “How about if I check in with you on ___?”
  • Ask the best place to start:  “Do you have any tips for the most efficient places to start my research?” or “Have you written anything similar that you’d like me to use as a model?”
  • Ask how long it should take:  “Any expectations for or limits on how much time I should spend on this?”

Whenever you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, get help—if not from the assigning partner, then from another associate.  If you ask the assigning partner for guidance, demonstrate that you’ve prepared for that discussion.  Jot down questions and save them for a meeting, call, or email, instead of asking then one at a time.  Efficiently summarize how you’ve thought through and tried to resolve problems on your own.

II. Act like an Owner

“Own the case!” “Take initiative!”  These are common words of advice for associates.  Woe to associates who display the dreaded “employee mentality” or who “limit themselves to the four corners of their assignments.”  But as a new associate, how can you take charge without overstepping your bounds?  What can you do to show your commitment and channel it in productive ways?

  • See the big picture.  Before starting an assignment, ask yourself:  What overall goal is the client trying to achieve? What problem is the client trying to solve?  The due diligence you’re conducting or the written discovery you’re drafting are not ends in themselves, but vehicles to help achieve a bigger objective.  If the partner hasn’t taken the time to orient you to a case’s or transaction’s overall goals, talk to another associate on the matter, read key documents in the file, and think for yourself about the big-picture goals.  Look for ways that your work can further those goals.
  • Speak up!  Contribute ideas and make recommendations. While you don’t want to shoot from the hip with ideas you haven’t thought out, go ahead and identify issues that the partner hasn’t raised or propose solutions or arguments that the partner hasn’t thought of.  Instead of waiting for new directions or assignments, strategically look for helpful times to put the partner in the position to approve or veto your ideas.
  • Organize projects and create schedules.  Never underestimate how much partners will appreciate you volunteering to create and update task-lists, timelines, or other project management tools.  While this can be hard to do when you’re first encountering a discovery plan or closing schedule, taking initiative to help plan and track a project’s progress is a great way to master these new processes and demonstrate ownership of your work.
  • Propose priorities.  Without extensive experience to guide you, you’ll find it challenging to set priorities when you have more work to do in a day than you can possibly complete.  That shouldn’t stop you from proposing priorities and confirming that you’re setting the right ones, instead of always waiting for someone else to set your priorities for you.  In the flurry of a busy practice, many partners might not stop to think through those priorities themselves. If you ask, “Which one of the torrent of tasks that you’ve given me should I do first?” the answer might well be, “That’s what I need you to tell me.”
  • Play by the rules.  Does it really matter if you submit your time entries each day? Participate in practice group meetings, trainings, and firm-sponsored events?  Treat staff courteously?  Yes.  Particularly if you fail to do any these things.

III. Inspire Confidence in Yourself and Your work

How do you project confidence without projecting cockiness?  If you’re feeling flummoxed, how do you earn someone else’s confidence?  Instead of churning over what you’re feeling inside, focus on what you convey to others through your attitude and actions.

  • Project a positive attitude.  This isn’t as simple as smiling when your heart is weary during a late-night filing, although that helps. And you don’t want to come off as a know-it-all who is more audacious than wise.  You can, however, discipline yourself at the office to show an interest in and enthusiasm for your work, colleagues, and clients.  When you feel stuck in a routine and unchallenging assignment, the best way to earn more advanced work is to enthusiastically surpass everyone’s expectations on that assignment.  When you discover a problem—or worse yet your own mistake—that looks like it might blow up a deal or kill that motion you’re drafting, take a breath and embrace the challenge. Don’t just worriedly bring a problem back to the partner: propose a solution.
  • Honor deadlines and provide status updates.  Even when you’ve set the deadline for submitting a draft, treat that deadline as if it were an imposed one.  Sure, the partner might have replied “yes” when you asked if it would be all right to email your draft on Sunday instead of Friday.  But is that partner really feeling overjoyed about reviewing your draft on a Sunday night instead of a Friday?  If you’re working on a project that will take several days or even weeks, chime in with occasional status updates.  With a short email, call, or visit, you can preempt the partner from starting to worry about whether you’re making any progress.
  • Organize your talking points.  Even out here on the more casual West Coast, prepare for a short phone call or quick visit with a partner or client as if it were a mini-meeting with a simple agenda.  Outline some bullet points so that the person you’re talking to understands immediately why you’re there and what your point is.  If you’re reporting back on research or analysis that you’ve been ask to perform, lead with your conclusion or recommendation, explain why that’s the best answer and what you did to reach that answer, and be prepared to discuss potential limitations, weaknesses, and alternatives.
  • Deliver client-ready, error-free work product.  Don’t let the word “draft” fool you. To a partner it means “a document that requires the least amount of work possible from me before I hand it over to the client.”  Even the most collaborative and friendly partners are taken aback when an associate submits a draft brief or memo with an incomplete section that includes a few bullet points and a note that “this needs more work.”  And before you send any draft to a partner, proofread it on paper, ask someone else to proofread it, then proofread it again.  All of it.  You want the partner to remember your clear and persuasive writing, not your failure to notice that the signature block listed the wrong clients.
  • Learn to be a great lawyer.  No matter how much confidence you project, you can’t win confidence in your work unless you deliver outstanding legal work.  Take advantage of the formal training programs and informal mentoring your firm offers, and don’t ever stop learning your craft.  The legal market’s ongoing transformations have prompted firms to emphasize the types of business and interpersonal skills discussed in this article.  But these transformations also require lawyers more than ever to continually hone their legal skills.

IV. Focus on Others’ Needs

As we start our legal careers, we need many things from the people we work with, such as guidance, mentoring, career-advancement opportunities, and support.  The best way to inspire others to help you with your own needs is to focus on how you can help them with theirs.  You want to create genuine reciprocity cycles, in which your generosity and thoughtfulness surrounds you with people who are eager to help you—not because they feel they owe you something, but because they are happy to do it.

How can you do this?

  • Find out what they need.  Research your clients’ businesses and interests.  Inquire about clients’ and partners’ work styles, communication preferences, and quirks. Adapt your approach to suit their needs.
  • Listen.  As lawyers, we can easily slip into thinking about what we need to say next instead of what the other person is saying now. Take the time to listen, empathetically opening yourself to the speaker’s perspective instead of immediately judging it, confirming whether you’ve correctly grasped the substantive of what’s been said, and acknowledging unspoken emotions or needs.
  • Focus on helping others shine.  Instead of worrying about whether you’ll impress a partner with your deposition outline, focus on whether you’re producing an outline that actually will help the partner in the deposition.  Instead of treating paralegals, secretaries, and other staff as if they only exist to support your career, find out what you can do to help them excel in their jobs.  And as for your client’s employees, who are ransacking their computers before the impending document production deadline, always remember that they’re job is not to make discovery easy for you, your job is to make it easy for them.
  • Be a successful giver.  Research by Adam Grant, Wharton professor and author of Give and Take, indicates that the most generous employees—the “givers”—can be either the most or least successful performers.  Successful givers know how to generously help others without burning themselves out or sidetracking their own careers.  You can do several things to establish yourself as a smart, successful giver:
  • Recognize the times when you need to advocate for yourself.
  • Set realistic limits so that you don’t overcommit yourself.
  • Develop a network of supporters who can help you deliver what you’ve promised to others.
  • Develop specialties so that people seek you out for your expertise instead of for random requests.
  • Look for high-impact, time-efficient ways to help others, what Grant calls “five-minute favors”—answering a request for a template or quick research, connecting two acquaintances with common goals, sharing an article about a topic or cause that interests a colleague, or jumping in to help a paralegal pull together documents for a closing or filing.
While the tips in this article can help you as a first-year associate, they can also serve as lodestars as you sail far beyond the harbor where you launch your legal practice. In the years ahead, you can develop into an experienced lawyer who:
  • sets clear expectations and deadlines when delegating assignments, and as a result, efficiently delivers the work product that the client needs;
  • builds collaborative teams, in which everyone understands clients’ priorities, takes initiative, and freely contributes ideas;
  • inspires those who work for you to confidently deliver their best work and those for whom you work to happily seek your services; and
  • develops a network of clients and supporters eager to reciprocate your generosity.

Set a course for that successful career through the habits you start developing now as you launch your first year of practice.  Bon voyage!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dressing Better Can Change The Way Your Brain Works

Writing for the Huffington Post, Carolyn Gregoire, writes about new research suggesting a suprsing advantage to dressing up for the workday:

Many modern offices, especially in creative fields, are pretty laissez faire when it comes to the dress code. Jeans and a T-shirt are often considered more appropriate attire than a buttoned-up suit or a dress with heels.

But new research suggests a surprising advantage to dressing up for the workday. Wearing more formal clothing changes the way that people think, helping them to focus on the big picture, according to a study recently published in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Columbia University and California State University, Northridge, found that clothing had a significant impact on cognitive processing style. More formal clothing resulted in more abstract cognitive processing.

Wearing formal clothing leads to more big-picture thinking, rather than concrete thinking that focuses on the details," study co-author Michael Slepian, a postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia Business School, explained to The Huffington Post.

The researchers asked a group of college-age volunteers of both genders to complete tests designed to determine their cognitive processing style at that moment. Before some of the tests, the volunteers ranked the formality of what they had opted to wear. With other tests, the volunteers were specifically directed to put on "clothing you would wear to class" or "clothing you would wear for a job interview." Across a series of experiments, those wearing the more formal outfits exhibited broader, more holistic thinking.

Why did changes in clothing lead to changes in how people thought?

"Formal clothing made people feel more powerful, which in turn made them more likely to adopt high-level, abstract thinking," Slepian said, pointing out that "the suit is a symbol of power."

He also noted that "formal clothing might improve your mood if you feel good in the clothing and think it looks good." Even if you wear a suit to the office five days a week, the study suggests you're likely to reap these benefits.


To help our students look their best, The Law Center has recently become a referring organization for Dress for Success Houston. If you have financial limitations (who doesn’t in law school?), are in the market for interview clothes and are interview ready, contact Dean Regan for a referral to Dress for Success. Once referred, you can schedule an appointment at Dress for Success where you will be paired with a personal shopper to be fitted in a suit, blouse, shoes, handbag, scarf, pantyhose and a pearl set. You will also attend First Impressions, a mandatory interview prep program to ensure you are ready to land the job! 

Interested or questions? Email Allison Regan at ahregan@central.uh.edu

Friday, May 1, 2015

Networking Your Way to a Great Legal Career

You've heard it said a million times. Networking is important in your job search and career. But networking is not something easy or intuitive to everyone. Please know that your counselor in the CDO is here to help. We can practice conducting informational interviews or just chat about the settings in which you might be comfortable, strategize on how to maximize your time, and brainstorms ways to build, connect, and maintain relationships. In the meantime, to give you a bit more detail on the mechanics, we share this great article written by Jack Killion at the New York Law Journal: Networking Your Way to a Great Legal Career. 


Everybody can benefit from improving networking abilities and developing win-win relationships. Law students for sure need to be developing these skills both to find internships and their first positions after law school and to accelerate their careers once out and working in the profession.

The problem is most people—including law students—have never been taught how to network. Most have been told "You need to network" without ever being taught how to go about it. The "how to" is what this article scratches the surface of.

Four Reasons to Develop Networking Skills
The benefits from being a capable, effective networker are fourfold. Most professionals will get the first two. Many, however, miss the importance of the other two benefits.
Networking will:
  • help accelerate your career;
  • increase your impact on the law firm you join and thereby make you even more valuable to the organization;
  • enrich your personal life (you will discover great restaurants, books, destinations, clubs and all the other resources that will make your personal life better); and
  • enhance your family members' lives by helping create opportunities for them.

If you are not excelling as a networker, you are really shortchanging your career, your firm, and your family and friends.

Challenges to Improvement
All of us have challenges that slow the development of our networking abilities. Some of us are naturally shy. Some don't think they have the time. Some don't feel comfortable in new situations and with new people. Some don't think they have anything to add. Some think it is a waste of time and don't see the need or benefits. And there are other challenges including our mom and dad telling us as little kids "Don't talk to strangers."

Regardless of whatever it is that prevents you from seriously working to improve your networking skills forget about it. If you don't learn to excel at networking, your personal and professional life will suffer for it.

Keys to Successful Networking
There are a few simple factors that dictate our abilities to successfully network:
Practice. Networking is just like any other activity you might tackle, from playing golf, to being a public speaker, to being a great writer. You have to practice to get better. I have put at least 35 years on a daily basis into honing my networking abilities.
  • Being committed. To get better at networking you have to be committed to putting in the time and effort to grow and harvest your network.
  • Do it with everybody, everyplace, all the time. Talk with everyone you meet. It's part of practicing and being committed. Recognize that you can network one-on-one, at events, in groups, online.
  • Ask great questions. I equate meeting new people to rock climbing. In both activities you are searching for finger holds, finding where you have a connection. Once you find the finger holds with people, you have the basis of beginning to build a viable relationship. This involves less talking and listening 80-90 percent of the time.
  • Focus on them. Find ways to add value to the people in your network. One of the best and easiest ways to add value is to connect people in your network with each other if you believe they should know each other. That's a contribution that is always valued highly. Some law students I have met think that because they don't have a job (i.e., are on tight budgets), they can't add value to people they meet. Adding value doesn't always require money—it requires understanding the other person's needs and objectives and finding creative ways to contribute to those areas. Simply recommending a good restaurant or book can be an appreciated value-add.
  • Follow up effectively. This means quickly (always within 24 hours) and with the actions you mutually agreed would be the next step. Underpromising and overdelivering are key to successful networking.
  • Have business cards every place you go. Don't try to keep your personal and professional lives separate. You live an integrated life. You can never anticipate the people you will meet in unexpected circumstances. For example, I have met many interesting people at wakes, weddings, birthday parties, tailgate parties and at church functions. Good people, the type you want to meet and get to know, can pop up anywhere.
  • Have a strong 30-second profile you use when meeting new people. Find some unique "hook" to add to your profile so that the listener will pay attention and remember you. For example, often when I introduce myself as a career and business development coach, I add a comment that I have started and developed eight totally different businesses. People I meet pay attention to that! Always end your 30-second profile with a question—"And what do you do?"—because you want to get them talking so you can uncover the "finger holds."
  • Have a networking action plan. Besides the serendipitous networking that we all do everyday, as a law student develop a three- or six-month written career development networking action plan designed to land an internship or your first full-time position with a firm or corporation. The plan should include:
    • A very specific goal or goals (i.e., find a paying summer internship or a full-time position in New York in the intellectual property practice area with a top 10 international law firm). Or, maybe the goal is more general: You are not yet sure what practice area you want to focus on in the future, so your search for an internship or full-time opportunity might be to again join a top 10 firm in New York, but this time you list five or six practice areas that are of interest (i.e., family law, real estate, M&A, intellectual property, trusts and estates, or litigation).
    • A listing of the specific law firms you are interested in joining and the heads of each of the target practice areas within those firms.

Next, start going through your "clusters" of connections to find people who can connect you with the target practice area leaders in your "target firms to join" list. Or maybe you have to find connections to people with connections to the practice area leaders.

Once you find a possible "connector," reach out and ask that person to introduce you to the identified practice area leader. They will almost always agree. Once the connecting link is created, it is up to you to reach out for a discussion and eventual meeting.

Besides searching in your "clusters," go on LinkedIn and look up the profile of the practice area leaders you are interested in meeting and then start looking around on LinkedIn to find possible connections. In more cases than you can imagine, you will find links that you can use to get to the targeted decision maker.

Where to Network?
Over the years we have all built up our "clusters" of connections. These evolve over time. Typical clusters include our family and their friends, our community, our undergraduate college and law school friends and professors and adjuncts, alumni associations, clubs we belong to, previous employers, social media contacts and others.

All of us have thousands of contacts in our "clusters," but most people think they have only a few hundred contacts in their networks. Learn to harvest your "clusters."

You can also network at various events and in various groups to which you belong. And you can certainly network online. There are techniques to maximize networking benefits in each of these ways.

For example, when networking at events, get there early and stay late; don't hang with your friends; minimize the eating and drinking that start most events (keep your hands free to exchange cards and make notes); and do your homework ahead of time (see who is attending the event and reach out in advance to the contacts you want to make at the event).

Finally, once you land an internship or a full-time position, it is critical that you both continue external networking as well as network within the firm you join. Internal networking can be every bit as important as external. That's how you will build your internal brands and that's how you will help knock down the silos and the layers that stunt the growth of most law firms.

External networking, including with the client organizations you serve, is how you will develop into a rainmaker capable of generating new business for your firm.
Having a good book of business is vital to your career. So is having a rock solid brand within the firm.

Wrap Up
Networking is a life and career changing skill. Whether you commit to getting really good at it or not is entirely up to you. You will control your future through the extent and quality of your network.

Simply being a good lawyer doing excellent client work isn't enough if you are really motivated to develop a special career. There are more than enough capable lawyers to do good work.

To control your own career, you have to be a difference-maker. That means you have to be an exceptional networker, capable of creating and growing relationships that will accelerate the growth of your career and of your firm.

To get started, commit at least five hours a week to meeting and developing relevant new connections. That's a minimum suggestion.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Three Keys to Becoming a Professional

As everyone shores up their summer plans and starts the transition from student to employee, we wanted to share some great advice from professional development expert, Mary Crane:

Virtually every employer reports they have little difficulty finding smart, technically competent students for their summer intern and associate programs. However, many of those same businesses report that too many students lack so-called “professional” skills. To convey that you are a professional, focus on the following three key concepts:

Look the Part
This is one area in which earlier generations had an easier time of it. When previous generations entered the workforce, new professionals donned the “uniform,” which for both men and women consisted of structured suits, crisp shirts/blouses, and well-polished conservative shoes. Today’s rules regarding appropriate attire are less formal, making it easier for a new professional to make a serious mistake.

Before you head to work, if your employer has not specified appropriate attire, plan to dress as you would for an interview—not a bad idea given that a summer internship or associate program effectively is a multi-week interview. Then use your first week to observe key players in the workplace and take their lead. If junior professionals dress in suits, you should plan on doing the same. If instead “business casual” is the norm, you may forego a suit.

Here’s what’s absolutely critical: throughout the entirety of your summer employment, never confuse “business casual” attire with “casual” attire. If you’ve been told “business casual” is appropriate, khaki slacks or skirts and well-pressed cotton or linen shirts/blouses will almost always work. Store a “just in case” blazer or jacket in your office (“just in case” you’re unexpectedly invited out to a nice business meal or to an important client event). And please avoid these mistakes:
  • Ladies, sundresses with or without a sweater, are not appropriate in most business offices
  • Gentlemen, if you don’t need to wear a tie, cover up your chest hair, which no one wants to see.
  • Torn jeans and shorts are never appropriate in an office setting.
  • Any footwear that draws attention is probably a bad idea. If you wear sandals during your commute, change into business shoes before you reach the office.
Sound the Part
Just as it’s important for you to look the part, it’s equally important that you sound like a professional. This requires that you sound confident but not arrogant. Before you open your mouth (or draft an email for that matter), be certain of the message you want to communicate, choose your words carefully, and speak succinctly. If necessary, address the following specific speech habits:
  • Use of space fillers – When they are uncertain about what to say next, many summer employees allow space fillers, words like “uhm,” “ah,” “like,” and “you know,” to pepper their language. Employers complain that these are distracting at best and make summer hires sound completely unprofessional at worst. If you are uncertain as to what you should say, simply pause. When you next speak, you’ll sound thoughtful and deliberative.
  • Inflecting up at the end of a sentence – This verbal tic communicates that you are uncertain about what you just said. When you ask a question, your voice should inflect up. When you make a definitive statement, your voice should end on a down note. (If you need an example of someone making a series of definitive statements that end in periods rather than question marks, listen to Jon Stewart or any “real” newsperson.)
  • Learn to respond to “thank you” – When you turn in an assignment this summer and a senior employee says “Thank you,” respond, “It was my pleasure,” or “I enjoyed the assignment. Is there anything else that I can help you with?” Please do not respond, “No problem,” which completely diminishes the work you just did.
Develop a Professional Attitude
Attitude is everything. You can wear the wrong outfit to work once and still recover. You can even survive a meeting in which you seem less than confident about a particular assertion. But if you bring an unprofessional attitude to work, I can assure you that your summer work experience will not yield the job offer you want. Following are five attitudes you need to demonstrate each and every day:
  • Be prepared – At a very minimum, once you enter an office, carry a pen and paper or an electronic tablet with you everywhere. This allows you to accurately record assignments and requests as they are delivered. Trust me on this: you never want to interrupt a senior partner to ask, “Do you have a pen so that I can write this down?” The only thing worse may be thinking that you can remember a very specific request . . . and then failing to do so.
  • Take initiative – Attend every event to which you are invited this summer. This includes every single meeting, training program, and business-social event. Employers schedule training events and meetings to increase your knowledge and skills. Show an eagerness to learn and grow. As to social events, these are scheduled so that an employer can start to know you as an individual. Demonstrate an interest in every single person you meet and the organization that has employed you.
  • Welcome feedback – It’s easy to receive positive feedback. Responding to constructive feedback can be more difficult. But here’s what’s important: if you’re told that you need to show some improvement, and then, if in fact, your performance improves, you will actually make a far more positive impression than the person who performed okay but never improved from their first day of work. With any feedback that’s less than positive, here’s your rule of thumb: own the problem and fix it!
  • Understand client service – In a knowledge economy, employers expect summer hires to bring to the workplace a certain threshold of “book smarts.” Possessing a client-service attitude will distinguish you as a professional. Focus on your internal and external clients’ short- and long-term goals. Demonstrate a desire and an ability to help them accomplish their goals.
  • Show some gratitude – A little bit of gratitude will take you a long way. It communicates that you understand your place in the world, which is not necessarily at the center of your employer’s universe. Gratitude can help you land a job, and showing a lack of gratitude can keep you from receiving an offer. Express your appreciation to everyone with whom you work, from hiring partners to office support staff.







Friday, April 10, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Mathias '14

Olivia Mathias graduated from UHLC in May 2014 and is currently employed as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, at the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance - Catholic Charities. Many victims of human trafficking in the Greater Houston area lack access to the full range of legal assistance to meet their varied legal needs that extend beyond immigration relief, so her project will provide holistic legal representation to victims of human trafficking in Houston and create a framework in which non-profits and pro bono attorneys can meet clients’ wide-ranging legal needs.  She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions:

1. How did you obtain your first job out of law school?

I started law school knowing that I wanted to practice public interest law. As such, an Equal Justice Works Fellowship was on my radar from the beginning. During my 3L year I worked with the supervising attorney of the Crime Victims Program at Cabrini to develop my project and then went through the steps of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship application process.

2. What experiences/internships did you have that you found to be helpful or beneficial in your job search and career thus far?

My work with immigrant populations quickly exposed me to the human trafficking crisis in Houston. That exposure came from my internships during law school with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Children at Risk, and at the Mexican Foreign Ministry. As a firm believer that freedom is a precursor to the exercise of any other right, I became interested in representing victims as they seek to avail themselves of the rights and remedies for which they qualify. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, I have been able carry out my work in advancing fundamental human freedoms as part of larger network of public interest attorneys with similar goals. Because of the internships I had throughout law school, those partnerships were easier to cultivate. As a Fellow, I am also supported by the experience and vision of my host organization, Catholic Charities’ Cabrini Center, and my sponsor, Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

3. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to current law students?

I would advise all students working towards a career in public interest law to apply for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. The Equal Justice Works Fellowship is a unique opportunity because it allows applicants to create projects that are unique to their interests and aspirations and addresses a pressing need in an underserved community that would otherwise be unmet.  Because of the intimate role I had in developing the project, I am profoundly committed to its success and sustainability.

An Equal Justice Works Fellowship allows a Fellow to launch her public interest career with a dream job the applicant designed.  The Fellow is expected to own the project, accomplish its goals within the two-year span of the Fellowship, and develop plans for sustaining the work.  An Equal Justice Works Fellowship is designed to cultivate the Fellow’s growth and development as a future public interest leader with training and access to an incomparable nationwide network of public interest leaders and experts in wide-ranging fields.

If you would like to connect with Olivia to learn more about her career path, please see your counselor in the Career Development Office. To learn more about Equal Justice Works Fellowships, go to: http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/post-grad/equal-justice-works-fellowships.