by Brooke, Class of 2016
It is only the third week of my co-op with the ACLU of Arizona, but I have already adjusted to the busy pace and am constantly learning what I see as invaluable lessons. For example, I have tried to make it a habit to arrive half an hour earlier than required, so I have time to make myself some coffee and eat breakfast while getting ready for the day. While I could just eat breakfast at home, this half hour is the only time I can finish things up before the chaos of the day starts and I get new, more urgent assignments. My time at my desk is frequently broken up by depositions and trips to the courthouse, so it is important that I figure out how to maximize my uninterrupted time. In the two and a half weeks I’ve been here, I’ve already gotten to sit in on several depositions and observe court proceedings. I’ve taken to keeping a blazer on the back of my chair at work and in the backseat of my car, because you truly never know when you might need to put on your business face.
By Professor Daniel A. Austin
Late one afternoon, a few years into my legal career, I heard Partner X mention the “2400-hour years I worked as an associate….” He said this as he was assigning me and another associate a research and drafting project with a next-day deadline. I tossed off his “2400-hour” comment as hyperbole, but nevertheless, we stayed past midnight to finish the work. Not long after that, I happened to pull open a stuck drawer on the built-in file cabinet in my office, and behind the drawer was a sheaf of associate annual billing records from past years. (My office had previously been occupied by a member of the accounting staff.) Unable to resist, I scanned through the list of associates and the hours they had billed. Some of the names were unfamiliar, but others I recognized because they were now partners or “of counsel.” Sure enough, when I looked at the billings for (then) Associate X, there were several years at or just over 2400 hours. In my short career to that point, I had once billed a 200-hour month and it was excruciating. I could not imagine twelve of them in a row, and then repeat for several years.
Shannon (left), Traci (right), and me at a personal branding for lawyers event.
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.
I wrote this piece a few months back and it somehow got lost on its way to being posted. Look for another update on my 3L year in the next few days. Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Safe travels for those hitting the roads or airports.
“As promised in my first post, here is an update on my coop experiences thus far at Northeastern. On Friday, I finished my third coop as a summer associate at a big firm in Boston. The summer associate program seemed short and the coop was over before I could blink. Looking back on my experiences at the firm, there were many highlights: the opportunity to serve as a witness in a will-signing ceremony, observing a federal district court sentencing hearing, and working directly with a pro-bono non-profit client on a tax matter.
One of the benefits of spending a coop at a big, general practice firm is the ability to get a variety of experiences in several areas of the law. I have found after 2 years of law school that there is a very strong emphasis on litigation both in and out of the classroom. However, my most recent stint at this big law firm provided a unique opportunity to get transactional experience, which is unlike any traditional litigation matter. The firm I spent the summer with has a strong corporate legal department with established private equity and business & technology practice groups that place a strong emphasis on mergers & acquisitions. The opportunity to see and understand what a corporate attorney does for a living is something I highly recommend to anyone who is unsure if litigation is your true calling. Corporate law requires a great deal of creativity, attention to detail, and collaborative mindset. If I just described your attitude in life, you might love transactional work!
I am coming off of back-to-back coops. This spring, I worked at a boutique labor and employment firm in Boston. As mentioned in my first post, my background is in labor relations. During my second coop, I was able to put some of my pre-NUSL experiences to good use. Employment law certainly has a great deal of litigation focus. However, I found that quite often, the firm’s role was to provide advice and counseling for their clients (employers) in order to prevent litigation. Much like the transactional work in a corporate practice, collective bargaining negotiations, arbitrations or mediations provide a somewhat unique avenue for putting a JD to good use.
The real advantage to Northeastern’s Coop model is the opportunity to take a class, such as employment law, and then apply for a coop in that field if you find the class interesting. The goal—for those of you who may be uncertain about what area of the law is right for you—can be for you to narrow down your options to the one or two areas of the law that truly grab your attention before you graduate.”