Program Helps Students Connect with Alumni

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Edward Marshall
Edward Marshall ’02, chief counsel and compliance officer at Developing World Markets, met with students as part of a new CDO program.

It’s one thing to get a job out of law school, but another thing to build a legal career.

UNC School of Law’s Career Development Office (CDO) has launched a program that pairs students with practicing attorneys to give them a head start on that career building.

“A lot of (our) career programs are necessarily geared to large audiences,” says Shawn McKenna, director of employer outreach. “This is an attempt to provide students with an opportunity to really have a meaningful one-on-one interaction with an attorney in a practice area that might interest them.”

A small group of students — typically 20 or fewer — gets a chance to have lunch with the attorney. Then, six students each have opportunities to spend 30 minutes one-on-one with the attorney after that, where they can learn how that particular attorney’s career developed.

“We basically sell it to the students as an opportunity to listen to this person’s story and an opportunity to pick their brain,” McKenna says.

The school held three such sessions in the fall of 2013, and more are planned for the spring. The CDO is also going to experiment with doing a session via Skype.

Students who have participated say it gave them new insights into how they might build a career in a specialty area that interests them. Valerie M. Hughes 2L met with Richard Minor ’88.

“He has a background in international tax, and that’s something that I’m interested in,” she says.

His experiences and career path helped her understand the differences between working at a firm and working in-house, and also helped her think about her career from a different perspective.

“It’s good to sort of take some time to think longer term about general career path opportunities,” she says.

McKenna says another of the benefits for students is a chance to start to build a network of legal contacts outside the Law School. In Hughes’ case, her contact with Minor has even led to an idea for a potential summer project on a particular area of tax law.

Participating attorneys say the program is a chance for them to reconnect to the School and connect to law students still figuring out what kind of career they want.

“One of the things that attracted me about this idea was to offer students a different perspective, from someone who pursued a legal career in international law,” says Edward Marshall ’02, chief counsel and compliance officer at Developing World Markets.

Marshall said all of the students he met with followed up with him afterward, and in one case he was able to help connect a student with a law firm for a summer associate’s position.

“I was also impressed by their focus and the fact that they had carefully considered what their career interests might be,” Marshall says. “They knew the questions to ask and I think that will also help them get to where they want to be.”

-February 6, 2014

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