by Ayla ’15
Network! Network! Network! It is arguably the mantra of our generation and a word we hear so often it has almost started to lose its meaning. But no matter how desensitized we may be to the word, the concept—relationship building—remains of paramount importance. At Northeastern School of Law (NUSL), we are lucky and wise. We get four substantial opportunities to the leave the cradle that is law school and strike out into the world, gathering skills and experience much sooner than many of our cohorts from other schools. That is not to say we have it easy, we live in a constant cycle of planning, applying, and interviewing; however, this allows us to hone important job seeking skills, and repeatedly highlights the importance of strong relationships in securing our ideal co-op positions and eventually jobs.
As a west coast transplant and an indecisive wanderer with a love for both New England seafood and Oregon IPA’s, I have made it a priority to relationship build on both coasts. I did my first co-op placement with the state circuit court in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Due to unexpected family circumstances, I had to line up a summer co-op on very short notice and I’m not sure it would have been possible without the elusive networking connections we hear so much about. A neighbor, and recent Lewis and Clark Law School grad, had secured a clerkship with the court. We ran into each other, and he put me in touch with Shannon Beutel, the clerk responsible for hiring summer clerks. As many NUSL students know, selling potential employers on the merits of having a co-op student can be a nerve wracking task, particularly when they have never heard of the program before. But with the help of my neighbor and NUSL alum, Judge Kelly Skye, I was able to secure my first position and my belief in the power and importance of relationship building was permanently solidified.
While working at the court, my supervisor, Shannon, a talented clerk and business attorney, mentioned that she had a colleague she thought I should meet. Thus began my relationship with Traci Ray, Executive Director of Barran Liebman LLP, a boutique management-side employment firm (the area of law I hope to practice one day) and my third co-op. Without Shannon’s recommendation, Traci and I may never have crossed paths and I may not have had the opportunity to confirm my desire to pursue employment law. I am now in the midst of my time with Barran Liebman and each day I am reminded of the importance of building and maintaining strong professional relationships. Whether it is remembering to send a note when a colleague wins a big case, or joining a professional group of attorneys who practice in your field, these are the things I believe will make a difference, not just in getting that first job but in building the career I hope to have.
Ayla Geller is a second year law student at Northeastern School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts and currently interning at Barran Liebman LLP in Portland, Oregon.