Law Alumni Help Students Chart Their Career Paths| March 29, 2012
More than 7,000 William & Mary Law School alumni live and work in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 39 other countries. Read below about how many of our alumni are helping students find the jobs they want.
Bonds Formed at William & Mary Continue After Graduation
Charles Crimmins ’10 is Coordinator of Legal Services at the College of William & Mary. Prior to law school, he taught a fourth grade bilingual class through the Teach for America program in Houston, Texas, and returned to Houston during law school to intern with the Honorable Lynn N. Hughes, a federal district judge.
During law school, Crimmins was an active member of De Vecino a Vecino, a student organization dedicated to serving the local Hispanic immigrant community.
Crimmins frequently returns to Houston to visit his former students and Judge Hughes. In his free moments, he scouts employment opportunities for William & Mary law students. During a trip last spring, Crimmins introduced himself at Catholic Charities’ Houston office. The staff, impressed with Crimmins’ enthusiasm for the Law School, arranged for him to meet the head of personnel. Crimmins posed a question: What do you look for when you hire?
“A few weeks later,” Crimmins recalls, “I heard that Laura Jacobson '11 was looking for a job and it hit me that she boasted the exact characteristics that the head of personnel sought. Laura confirmed my feeling that a job with Catholic Charities would be her perfect fit. I got back in touch with the head of personnel and told her that I had the perfect candidate for them.”
Jacobson sent her cover letter and resume to Catholic Charities, interviewed, and then garnered a Law School post-graduate public service fellowship, which helped support her work at Catholic Charities St. Francis Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance in Houston while she awaited her bar results. She proved herself a valuable resource and was ultimately hired into a full-time position.
“I connected with Charles when he was still a student at the Law School,” she said. “He was influential in encouraging me to found De Vecino a Vecino and was part of the core group involved in developing the program. He has continued to be a great advocate for the group.”
“The fellowship was a great way to get my foot in the door,” she said. “I started out essentially as a volunteer, and had the opportunity to show Catholic Charities the work I could do. In November, they hired me as a full-time staff attorney. This has been a great place for me to start my career.”
Catholic Charities is the largest provider of legal assistance for immigrants in Houston, a city with a huge number of immigrants. Half of Jacobson’s job is spent in the Family Visa Program, where she works on family-based immigration petitions, a majority of which is for Cubans seeking lawful permanent residency.
“As a non-profit lawyer,” Jacobson said, “I've been able to benefit from William & Mary's Loan Repayment Assistance program, which has taken away some of the stress of figuring out how to repay my student loans.”
Crimmins said that “connecting William & Mary students with employers is a win-win-win situation for me as an alumnus. First, because William & Mary produces the nation's best and brightest graduates, employers view my recommendations as a personal favor. Second, it allows me to track the careers of younger William & Mary graduates. And, third, it allows me to give back to the school that has given me so much.”
Alumni Help Fellow Graduates Navigate the World
Genevieve Jenkins ’09 is an associate in the San Francisco office of the international law firm Latham & Watkins. She was chosen as her class’s Drapers’ Scholar, which enabled her to obtain an LL.M. degree at Queen Mary College of the University of London. During her studies there, Jenkins focused on environmental and international law.
“I have been fortunate to have alumni as informal mentors through the years, particularly in connection with the Drapers’ Scholar program -- James Hess ’02 and Shana Hofstetter ‘08, who are both former Drapers’ Scholars. Then I was able, in turn, to keep in touch with Rebecca Wharton’10 who received the scholarship the year after me. I was in touch with many other William & Mary law students applying for, or considering application for, the scholarship.”
Co-Counsel Program Matches 1Ls with Alumni Mentors
Blaine Adams ’14 and John Miller II ’08 were paired through the Co-Counsel Program, a mentoring initiative guided by the Law School’s Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, which matches first-year law students with alumni. Miller is an associate at Hogan Lovells [once the firm of Chief Justice John Roberts] in McLean, Virginia, where he focuses on commercial transactions, with particular emphasis on matters involving the acquisition, protection, and commercialization of intellectual property, including licensing, technology development, telecommunication, and life science agreements, as well as advising on Internet-related issues.
“I used the Law School’s Career Services programs at William & Mary,” Miller said, “and they were especially helpful during my 2L interviews. I got involved in the Co-Counsel Program because as an entering 1L I really didn’t know what to expect. The process of law school was a mystery to me. Now [as an alumnus] I give whatever advice I can about what’s important to know as a law student – the market, career direction, internships and other paths for law careers – things I didn’t know about early in my law school days.”
Adams, who will complete his first year of law school in May, graduated from Utah State University in 2009 with a degree in journalism and worked for two years with a construction management company, Builder Helper, as the Director of Public Relations.
“It was a great experience but I was really excited to come to William & Mary Law School,” Adams said. “I didn't know anything about the Co-Counsel Program before I got here, but I learned the details through e-mails sent by Kathy Pond, Director for Alumni Affairs. She provided a list of alumni whose careers aligned with what interested me -- intellectual property law, a large firm, a Washington, DC, location. John Miller seemed like a perfect fit. He was married, as am I, and with similar plans for his career as mine. He had been on Law Review, and is at an excellent firm, so I chose him.”
Miller contacted Adams in mid-September, and they became acquainted via e-mail and telephone. Miller told Adams about his career and some classes he had taken during law school, and Adams asked more specific questions about Miller’s practice, Law Review, and “basically all the questions that a first-year law student is dying to know but too afraid to ask,” Adams said.
“John was also really helpful when it came to my job search,” Adams continued. “I had some options and called to ask his advice, as well as his experiences. He offered a candid perspective. I'm interested in working at a large firm in the DC market, and John currently works at one, so he knows the ins and outs. As I move through the process, I know he has been a big help.”
“Overall, the program is fantastic,” Adams said, “and has really made me feel more confident, better prepared, and more connected. I'm grateful William & Mary Law School offers this vital program and it will certainly be helpful when searching for a position after graduation.”
Jessica Hou ’14 and Reese Pearson ’07 were matched as part of the Co-Counsel Program.
Originally from Davenport, Nebraska, Pearson clerked with the Alexandria (Va.) Circuit Court for two years and now practices with the Hudgins Law Firm in Alexandria. His practice is mainly in the areas of insurance defense and professional liability, but he has also handled employment, traffic, domestic, and personal injury cases.
“It was my first year participating in the Co-Counsel Program, so it was a new experience for both Jessica and me,” Pearson said. “I try to answer any questions Jessica has about law school, whether it is studying and preparing for finals, the job search, or making career choices. I think it is particularly helpful if you are leaning toward practicing in a specific field or living in a specific area. She and I discussed judicial clerkships and working in Northern Virginia.”
“I didn't participate in the program while I was in law school,” Pearson said, “but looking back, I wish I had, particularly in my first and second years. It would have been nice to have a practicing attorney or law clerk to go to when I was mulling over what to do after law school. I feel like my job hunt might have gone a little smoother, or at least been a little less stressful, had I been able to talk with someone who was already doing what I wanted to do. Career Services was very helpful, but an additional resource never hurts.”
During her first year, Hou asked Pearson what types of internships she should pursue for the summer.
“Reese has been very helpful with general law school information, for example, grades, classes, and what to expect in the future.” Hou said. “He also gave me the contact information for Jean Folsom, a current 3L at the Law School, who had interned in the Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.”
Hou contacted Folsom, and they discussed the internship. Folsom forwarded Hou’s resume and cover letter to the judge of the court. An interview was scheduled for last December after exams, and Hou will intern there this summer.
Pearson says he “played a small role” in connecting her with a William & Mary 3L. “I put them in touch with each other, but then Jessica followed up: she applied for, and received, the position. “
“At the very least, the Co-Counsel Program is an excellent way for law students to network with William & Mary law alumni,” Pearson said. “As most know, the job market for attorneys isn't the best right now but, by participating in the program, students open another avenue in which to look for jobs. And I know that I, as well as my alumni friends who participate in the program, enjoy working with the students and staying connected to Marshall-Wythe in Williamsburg.”
If you are a graduate of the Law School and would like to participate in the Co-Counsel Program, please contact Kathy Pond in the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs for more information [[[w|ktpond]], (757)221-3796].
Alumna Ensures Students Benefit from Same Opportunities She Had
Liz Howard ’09 began law school with first-hand knowledge of political campaigns and campaign finance compliance standards. As Chief Financial Officer for the Tennessee Democratic Party, she had relied on law firms to help with the organization’s compliance. To help engage fellow law students in in these issues and to foster her own studies, she co-founded William & Mary’s Election Law Society, which continues to serve as a vehicle for many students to become involved in election law issues.
Through her involvement with the Election Law Society, Howard took classes at the Law School’s campus in Williamsburg as well as at the College of William & Mary’s office in Washington, DC, where she was able to interact with election law experts and practitioners.
“The opportunity to learn from practicing attorneys in DC was phenomenal,” she said. “I was learning in real time using real-life scenarios.”
Howard is now an associate at Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb in Washington, DC, and specializes in election law. Her practice includes advising federal, state and local political committees and candidates, state and national parties, nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations. Plus she counsels and advises William & Mary law students who are interested in a career in election law.
“Sandler Reiff enjoys engaging William & Mary law students in the firm’s work,” Howard said. “Several of our attorneys are adjunct professors and we also have had, and will continue to have, a number of William & Mary law students as interns in our office.”
“I had such an amazing experience at William & Mary Law School,” Howard said, “where everyone was so willing to help and to work with the students, and where the professors were always available to guide us. Professor Dave Douglas, who is now Dean, helped us to establish the Election Law Society, and was instrumental in establishing the Election Law Program. Now other law schools are trying to copy what we have done. When I advise or help current students,” Howard continued, “it is the least I can do to pay back the Law School for all it has done for me.”