Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a Philadelphia girl. Born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love, I am a little obsessed with my hometown: the food (cheesesteaks! Wawa! water ice!), the accent (“youse” is a word, don’t question it), and of course, the sports teams (yeah, we threw snow balls at Santa Claus, so what?). My family is still Philly-based, and I knew when I was thinking about law school that I would ultimately want to practice close to home.
So when I started looking at BC, I faced something of a conundrum. The law school offered a ton of stuff geared towards my area of interest (juvenile rights and education law), which was hard to find, and my campus visit convinced that the people and professors had a lot to offer, too. But in case you didn’t know, Boston College is, in fact, in Boston. BOSTON. Like, home of the Patriots, Boston. (Sorry, not sorry, Rob.) And I was really worried that going to BC — or any law school outside of the Philly area — would make it difficult to come back after graduation.
I’ve since realized that that fear was unfounded. Yes, of course, there is something to be said for going to law school where you want to practice. The self-evident truth is that it’s always going to be a little easier to meet people and learn the legal market when you’re actually in the legal market during law school. But over the past two years, I’ve found that being at BC has not been a real disadvantage in networking and finding work in my city of interest. In fact, my BC connections have directly contributed to my getting jobs in Philly during both my 1L and 2L summers. The reality is, people go to law school all across the country for all sorts of different reasons — a lot of times, because they find a program they’re really excited about, like I did — and legal employers are used to applicants going to school out of state.
So, how does a BC Law student go about getting a job outside of Boston?
Step One: Meet with Career Services
This is an obvious step, but an important one. Career Services is the one stop shop for information about job stuff, even and especially when you’re looking outside of Boston. They maintain a list of organizations and firms that have employed BC students and alums, so when you go to them with a city in mind, you can walk away with a list of places and people to reach out to. The career service staff can also point you in the direction of professors and faculty who may have connections in your city (see step three), which can make getting those initial introductions so much easier.
Step Two: Attend Career Fairs & OCI
There are a bunch of career fairs across the Boston area every year. The biggie — On-Campus Interviewing — takes place before your 2L year begins. While BC hosts OCI on campus, attracting mainly Boston employers, it also connects students with OCI programs in other cities, like Washington, D.C., New York, and, yes, Philadelphia. My firm-bound friends spent the weeks leading up to 2L bopping around the country doing interviews, and for many of them, that led directly to jobs in their city of choice.
If you’re like me and all about the public interest life, there’s the Government/PI fair, held at Suffolk University in Boston. Gov/PI brings in employers from all across New England, so if Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, etc. are your thing, we’ve got you covered. If you’re looking for something outside the land of Clam Chowda, there’s also the Equal Justice Job Fair, held in Washington, D.C, which hosts employers from all over the place.
Step Three: Use Professors as Networking Resources
One of the many great things about BC is the quality of the faculty. Not only are our professors generally awesome teachers, they’re also experienced and prestigious attorneys in their own right. That means that, when you form a relationship with a professor in your field of interest, it’s highly likely that they’ll be able to hook you up with someone in your city.
This situation is actually what got me my job this summer: I had my eye on a particular non-profit in Philly, and after mentioning the name to my clinical professor (Hi Fran!), it turned out that she knows the executive director quite well. She sent an e-mail on my behalf, and a few weeks later, I had locked down my job for the summer. Of course, I still had to do my part — the application and interview was all me. But in the world of law, where getting a job can be super competitive, having a professor who can send e-mails and open doors for you is invaluable, particularly when you’re trying to get to a different city.
The overall takeaway is this: Geography isn’t everything. The most important thing about law school is getting valuable experience and education that you can apply after graduation. If you find a law school that gives you those opportunities, don’t automatically cross it off your list because it’s not where you ultimately want to be.
And, okay, yeah, fine, I’ll admit it. Boston is pretty great, too.
About the blogger: I’m a 3L Public Service Scholar with a background in education and an interest in juvenile law. I’ll be blogging about public interest at BC, getting a job that’s not at a firm (fingers crossed), and how I’m maintaining my (semi) sanity living in the Law School Bubble. Questions are always welcome! You can comment here, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.