Law school panels kicked-off the recent ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting in Boston on Wednesday, September 7. The Business Law Section (BLS) hosted this initiative to engage law students and provide them with practical tips about business law careers. More than 30 BLS leaders participated in this event as panelists to five Boston law schools: Boston College of Law, Boston University School of Law, New England School of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, and Suffolk University Law School. The Section’s Membership Committee Chair, Penny Christophorou of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, spearheaded this strategic initiative as a result of recent membership survey feedback.
Leaders from the field shared their paths to a business law career that incorporated insights on hot topics and then answered questions from the students. A common theme was how the Section helped panelists raise their profile in the profession.
The audience averaged about 35 students. Most of the students stayed afterward to speak more with the leaders over refreshments. Students were as diverse as the panelists and each was attracted to a business law career in a different way.
Spotlight on Careers
The program content ranged from business law basics to more complex topics such as LLC’s. Panelists explored emerging areas such as consumer protection, energy diversity, and privacy law. They discussed what law students do to best prepare themselves to practice in these fields. The panelists were a mix of corporate and in-house attorneys, and their diverse backgrounds enabled students to listen and ask questions to top legal practitioners on a variety of possible business law careers.
“I’ve always been interested in going into business, but I was never good at math,” said Nicholas Lattarulo, Boston University. “English and writing were always my strongest subjects. So, going to business school was not in the cards. I saw business law as an opportunity to get into business and advise business people.”
But for Josephine Bradley, a Suffolk University student, her work as an in-house paralegal sparked an interest in the business law field. She was eager to hear the panelists, as well as learn more about the benefits of BLS membership.
The outreach also was an ideal setting to highlight the programs, content, and networking opportunities offered by BLS. “The panelists shared their experience about how BLS educates them about emerging trending areas of the law. That helps our members best serve their organizations and clients,” said Julia Passamani, BLS marketing specialist. “Some panelists shared how they landed career opportunities thanks to relationships they nurtured in the Section as a result of their diligence as volunteer editors and panelists.”
The success of the Boston program will be followed by a similar outreach at the BLS Spring Meeting in New Orleans in April 2017. According to Passamani, BLS is undertaking many new initiatives and programs for its law students. BLS is introducing a new column called “Student Beat” this fall in Business Law Today as a way for students to directly engage with BLS and write about topics and issues important to them. BLS also has a student writing contest, Diversity Clerkship Program and Committee Associate Program designed for students.
And what do the students want from BLS?
For Lattarulo, it is less clutter. “As students, we are inundated with information and easy to access legal information is a priority.”
“A chance for networking is really important,” said Bradley. “BLS should build a community that helps students learn more about the areas of business law and identifying opportunities for work.”
Such observations and comments were welcomed by the BLS panelists and can assist BLS as it strengthens its ties to law students throughout the country.
The Section looks forward to developing these relationships with our future leaders, contributors and members at large. Students are encouraged to monitor our Initiatives and Awards online page for details about future opportunities.