First-year students enrolled in Legal Analysis, Writing, and Reasoning (LAWR) with Distinguished Clinical Professor Sarah Ricks recently had the opportunity to visit seven different attorneys' offices to learn about the various types of legal practice they can pursue in their future careers as lawyers. The field trips helped to provide students with early exposure to a wide range of legal practice settings, including nonprofits, law firms, local government, and in-house corporate counsel.
"The field trips demystify a 'typical day' in different kinds of legal practice and may be a student’s first visit to a law office," said Ricks, who organized similar trips for first-year students in the past to foster student networking opportunities with Rutgers Law alumni and other lawyers working in Philadelphia and Camden.
Students on the field trips visited the Philadelphia offices of Stevens & Lee, Reed Smith, CIGNA Corporation, the Education Law Center, the Nationalities Services Center, the Women's Law Project, and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. Host attorneys shared their individual career paths, answered questions from students about how to succeed in externships and summer jobs, and discussed the real-world rewards and challenges found in different legal practice areas.
"I visited the Women's Law Project because I am interested in working in women's advocacy and I had never seen how a nonprofit like this actually looks or what the work culture is like," said student Katie Flynn. "I am happy I went because the trip affirmed I could be happy in an environment like that."
While visiting the offices of immigration attorney Chris Setz-Kelly RLAW'13 at the Nationalities Services Center, Taylor Vick said she enjoyed learning about the direct impact he made on his clients' lives, noting, "I had no idea how many late nights it involves, but also how rewarding immigration practice can be."
Lauren Coyle found the visit with Brad Kushner CCAS'06 RLAW’09 in the employment litigation practice at Stevens & Lee to be very beneficial.
"I’m drawn to employment law," said Coyle. "I'd never been to a law firm and Brad allowed me to see what a career in that field would look like, explained billable hours, and how each attorney conducts their work differently."
Before visiting in-house counsel at CIGNA Corporation, including Robin Froio Marino RLAW’04, Marilyn Porcaro knew she wanted to learn more about the difference between in-house counsel and outside law firms. Porcaro appreciated that CIGNA attorneys took the time to answer the students’ questions about different facets of their work.
For Danielle Pell, the field trip to Reed Smith was her first time visiting a large law firm.
"I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the lawyers at Reed Smith were, including Lisa Syzmanski RLAW'09, and how progressive the firm's benefits and programs are. The trip helped solidify my goal of working at a large firm."
Students on the field trip to the Camden County Prosecutor got a taste of what a career in criminal prosecution might look like.
"I learned about the work ethic needed to be a prosecutor, which I hope to do. One thing that motivates me is how much senior prosecutors help and guide the new lawyers," said Ian Klein of his visit with Colleen Gardner RLAW'16.
Neil Doogan added, “It was especially great to hear how much courtroom experience a young attorney can get in the first year.”
Daniel Moeller, a first-year student who hopes to pursue a career in education law, followed up his introduction to the nonprofit Education Law Center by immersing himself in news coverage of its recent report on special education funding.
"It is inspiring to see the Education Law Center in action after visiting them on the field trip," said Moeller. "It adds another level to see what we talked about when we visited translated into real-world action."
Ricks practiced in Philadelphia for 11 years, as an appellate attorney for the City of Philadelphia, a litigation associate at Pepper Hamilton, and a federal law clerk. In addition to serving on the Rutgers Law faculty, she is also a Commissioner on the Philadelphia Commission for Human Relations, which is the City's antidiscrimination agency.