BC Law places a heavy emphasis on experiential learning, beginning your 1L year. But as a 2L and 3L, you have the opportunity to dive even deeper into practice through externships or clinic experiences. You can learn more about the clinic offerings at BC here, but because I decided to take the externship route, I’ll reflect on that experience.
Through BC’s Semester-in-Practice program, students are given the opportunity to secure job placements in Boston or beyond for course credit. The number of hours per week depends on the placement and the student, and all students must participate in a weekly seminar as well. I decided to spend last semester at Tripadvisor, where I worked (virtually due to COVID) 4 days a week.
I wanted to pursue an externship for a number of reasons. First, I was getting a little tired of just taking classes all the time. Especially when it seemed like we would be remote again, I knew this was a good time for me to extern. Second, I was still in the process of figuring out my post-grad career plans. I thought I would become a litigator, but was constantly second-guessing myself because I had never even tried corporate work. Finally, I wanted to develop real-life lawyering skills before heading into practice. This turned out to be extremely valuable given that my summer program was cancelled due to the pandemic.
But now, back to my experience at Tripadvisor. Starting any job remotely is going to have its challenges. I worried about how I would connect with colleagues, who I would turn to if I had questions as the only extern, and whether I would find the work interesting. Luckily, I can confirm that all of those fears went away within a couple of weeks, and I had the best semester of law school. “Why?” you might ask.
First, the learning opportunity was unparalleled. I was not stuck writing legal memos or researching obscure legal questions that didn’t really matter. Rather, I was tasked with a variety of projects that helped further the business. For instance, given the timing of my externship, a major project with which I assisted focused on the office re-openings around the globe and monitoring COVID-related developments. Being able to see how my research and work product was helping Tripadvisor as a company was a major highlight of my experience.
Second, working in-house for the semester and having the opportunity to explore so many areas of the law under one roof really helped me see what my personal interests were. Through a variety of projects, I was able to work on matters that touched employment, IP, privacy, corporate, contracts, and marketing, just to name a few. Although I still have much exploring to do, I now have a better sense of the type of work I want to pursue in my legal career.
Third, I was able to cultivate some really meaningful connections with lawyers in Boston. I am from the DC area and worked there after college, so my network is very DC-centric. However, through my experience at Tripadvisor, I worked with many lawyers in the Boston area, as well as lawyers as far away as London. My colleagues at Tripadvisor served as valuable resources when it came to navigating work-related questions, but also have been incredible mentors.
Finally, I took away some very important skills that I think will serve me well in my legal career. For instance, I now have a better understanding of what a client wants when it comes to outside counsel. This includes how information should be presented and how legal teams should be staffed. I also was able to further refine my own time management and communication skills in a workplace environment, something the classroom can’t teach you. Oftentimes these skills are difficult to pinpoint, but they are, no doubt, important.
In conclusion, I knew that an externship would be a nice change of pace from traditional law school classes, but I was not aware of just how valuable the experience would be. At BC, there are a number of externship opportunities to explore, but for me, Tripadvisor was the perfect placement.
Courtney Ruggeri is a third-year student and president of the Impact blog. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.