Go anywhere with a Florida State Law degree!

I finally fell off the fence between Florida State University College of Law and one other law school just after a phone conversation with Dean Catalano in the Placement Office, which started with me asking, “If I go here, am I stuck in Florida forever?” In her supportive and enthusiastic way, Dean Catalano assured me that I was not “stuck” anywhere, and all it would take was a little diligence to go anywhere I wanted to go.

While the local networking opportunities available during law school and the concentration of alumni practicing throughout Florida might make it easier for a College of Law student or graduate to find a job in Florida, I knew I had the drive to do anything I wanted to do. So, I took the leap of faith, paid my seat deposit, and made it my goal to eventually land in the Washington, D.C. area, or at least have the opportunity to explore this idea.

Fast forward to November of my 1L year and a conversation I had with my Uncle. He lives near Washington, D.C. and I told him that I was interested in finding a summer opportunity in the area. Instead, he told me about a firm in York, Pennsylvania, that might have a summer opportunity, sent me a link to their Website, and encouraged me to contact them. So, I sent them a copy of my resume and a newly drafted cover letter. As I would be visiting family in the area during the holidays, I was able to schedule an interview at that time. It was not until the week before finals of the spring semester that I was contacted with a summer job offer. So, in three weeks I completed my finals, packed my car to the brim with all of my stuff, and embarked on the 1,250-mile solo road trip to Pennsylvania.

I was the only Summer Associate (SA) in the office and the first SA to ever be hired from out-of-town, let alone out-of-state. In the beginning, everyone in the office was basically wondering, “Who is this girl from Florida, and why is she interested in this small town of York, Pennsylvania?” Eventually, my story circulated the office: That while I was born and raised in Florida, I was interested in moving north after law school and wanted to begin establishing relationships and connections while still in law school to facilitate my ability to make such a move.

My job as a SA was nothing that I expected, but, everything it should have been. My responsibilities were typical of what one might expect from a Summer Associate position: lots of legal research, writing inter-office Memos, office meetings, lunches with shareholders (a.k.a. partners), and attending hearings with attorneys. What I enjoyed most about this position was the exposure to so many diverse topics and legal issues due to the wide-range of areas practiced by the attorneys of the firm. I also discovered just how well my 1L year courses and other experiences at the College of Law had helped prepare me for this opportunity.

There was also an added allure to the practice of law in such a historic venue. York, Pennsylvania, the original capital of the colonies, was supposed to be the venue of the Battle of Gettysburg, and within a few blocks from my office was a symbolic replica of the Historic Courthouse where the first draft of the United States Constitution was written.

The moral of the story is that whether you are committed to practicing in Florida or not, Florida State University College of Law has a place for you. I still am considering Washington, D.C., but I am also now open to considering other areas as well. I also would like to point out that while I was able to find my SA position on my own the Placement Office has abundant resources for helping you find the right opportunities for you, inside and outside of Florida. Just remember that while it may take a little more diligence, the State of Florida does not have to be the be-all or end-all of your legal career.

Melanie Kalmanson, 2L

On Campus Interviewing: Your Ticket to Experiential Opportunities and Employment

In the midst of your 1L classes, the end goal of becoming a practicing attorney is often lost in the haze of “reasonableness” and the Erie doctrine. Too often, students forget that there is a future outside of law school and about the importance of obtaining practical experience while in law school.

The ability to apply concepts you have only experimented with in the classroom while simultaneously growing your network of references and potential employers is invaluable. These experiences and references will carry you far in your ultimate goal of becoming a practicing attorney. For this purpose, Florida State University College of Law has an excellent Placement Office that keeps practical experience high on its list of priorities for students.

The Placement Office facilitates On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) for students at all junctures of their legal education. There are a variety of opportunities to facilitate all interests, from classic, big firms to government and private industry. The OCI process allows students to do just what it says: interview for pre- and post-graduate positions on the campus where they attend classes. With the Placement Office doing some of the heavy lifting (bringing fantastic employers to you, the student!), there is little excuse for College of Law students to not pursue practical experience during their time in law school.

Last spring, I took advantage of OCI and the resources and assistance of our top-notch Placement Office in my search for summer employment. From having my resume refined to last-minute interview tips, these perks had never been so important to me.

The process began with e-mail messages received from the Placement Office and a search of the Florida State University job-listing network in Symplicity. Here I was able to find positions based on geographic location, class year, practice area, and much more. From there, I was easily able to submit my application and other materials to my preferred employers. Soon after, another e-mail message from the Placement Office let me know it was time to select an interview slot.

On interview day, aside from a few pre-interview jitters, the process went incredibly smoothly. I walked over from my final class of the day, was quickly photographed by the Placement Office staff (which would be used to jog the employer’s memory), received a quick briefing on the firm and interviewer, and sat in the cozy waiting area until my interview time came up. The interview was conducted by two of the firm’s top attorneys. The entire process was completely conversational and comfortable, and the Placement Office followed up with me after the interview to provide me with the employer’s contact information.

I cannot imagine an easier process or more supportive staff. I was happy to accept an internship position this past summer all thanks to the On-Campus Interviewing program and the support of the Placement Office. Students at Florida State University College of Law are lucky to have the support of such an involved Placement Office that wishes to provide these types of opportunities to all College of Law students.

?????????????????????????????????????????? Ashleigh Lollie, 2L

Two Roads to DC

Opportunities Are Here for the Law Student Interested in a Career in Politics

One of the reasons I chose Florida State University College of Law was because of our unique position as the only law school in Florida’s state capital. I have always known I wanted to work in politics in some capacity and felt that attending law school in Tallahassee, Florida, would give me a head start on my political career. Although it is possible to have a career in politics without a law degree, I knew that pursuing my legal education would help me stand out as one of the most qualified, well rounded applicants in the sea of college graduates that flood the government job market each year.

During the summer after my 1L year, I landed a job as a summer legal intern for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. At the DNC, I applied much of what I had learned during my first-year of law school in my everyday work. Legal Research and Writing prepared me to know where to gather pertinent information and how to draft effective policy memoranda. I used legal analysis skills developed in various first-year courses, especially Legislation and Regulation, while analyzing and writing about new policy proposals and the potential effects of policy changes. The focus I gained while sitting through all of my first year courses also served me well while attending briefings and committee meetings on Capitol Hill as well as committee hearings.

Upon returning to the College of Law for my 2L year, I knew that I wanted to continue gaining experience working in other areas of government. So, when I was notified by the College of Law’s Placement Office of an open law clerk position at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, I applied, got the job, and began working on preparing litigation cases for the agency. While this position focused more on the legal side than the political side, it provided me direct exposure to administrative law and litigation, which is vitally important in government. Additionally, experience with this agency during and after a legislative session brought the legislative process full circle for me, as I experienced how an agency follows a piece of legislation, takes a piece of legislation directing a change, and actually implements that change.

If not for the College of Law’s proximity to the center of Florida state government and its natural relationship to politics and government in our nation’s capital, I would not have been able to supplement my legal education with such practical, real-world experiences. I have come to really appreciate the excellent staff in the Placement Office, as well as all of my professors who have encouraged me to pursue my dream of a career in Washington, D.C. I definitely believe I am well on the road to achieving that goal.

?????????????????????????????????????????? Brittnie Baker, 3L

Externships: Designed to Take You Where You Want to Be

Florida State University College of Law has provided a wealth of resources for me in the planning of my future career. Even though my goal is to end up in Washington, DC, working on Capitol Hill, I have received a great deal of help identifying jobs, connections, and networking opportunities from the College of Law’s faculty and administration.

During my 2L year, I applied for several positions in Washington, DC, to work during the summer, but with the large number of law schools within a 100 miles radius, and others, like me, applying form all over the country, the competition for these positions appeared ominous. I then reviewed the list I had assembled of my own contacts and finally decided to speak with someone in the Externship Office about my options.

The variety of opportunities offered through the Externship Office was nothing short of remarkable. I remembered thinking about my initial thoughts as a 1L and how I had questioned why anyone would want an externship. Now, with all of the opportunities presented to me, I could definitely see just how effective an externship could be in obtaining legitimate job experience while also earning college credit. Not to mention the possibility of an externship potentially turning into a job opportunity after graduation.

The staff in the Externship Office works around the needs of the individual student and there is a range of 3-12 credit hours that can be earned each semester. If a student has an interest in something other than what is available, Externship Office staff will work to find an option or negotiate an opportunity that fits with what the student would like to do or accomplish. They will also work to identify opportunities in whatever geographic area a student prefers. Professor Sally Gertz and Ms. Lauren Manders worked with me on applying for opportunities in Washington, DC, and I was able to land a summer opportunity working as a clerk for a United States Senator.

The Externship Office at the College of Law is a resource that is preparing me for the real world. It is helping me establish connections, networking opportunities, and possibly, future employment opportunities. I feel like I have every opportunity in the world afforded to me…even when the ones I seek are over 800 miles away.

Veatch, Courtney Courtney Veatch, 3L