At the Alternative Careers Forum on June 3, an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 NYU Law students and alumni gathered to learn more about non-traditional ways to parlay a legal degree into a successful career. Sponsored by the Office of Career Services, the Public Interest Law Center, and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, the event featured networking discussions with alumni facilitators in a wide range of fields, including banking and finance, business development, compliance, consulting, entrepreneurship, high tech, higher education administration, publishing and journalism, nonprofits, real estate management and development, and sports and entertainment. Attendees learned about how facilitators transitioned into their fields and how to position themselves to do the same.

On his first official day as dean of NYU Law, Trevor Morrison spoke to the crowd, noting humorously that, as someone working in higher education administration, he seemed to be on an alternative career path himself. Morrison applauded the energy and activity of alumni, adding that ongoing alumni engagement with the Law School is a real hallmark of NYU. "It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to be coming onboard here," he said. "There is no better event to be coming to on my first day than an event like this.”

Jesse Wegman ’05, a former Newsweek and Daily Beast editor who recently joined the New York Times editorial board as its new legal and Supreme Court writer, served as a discussion facilitator at the forum. “It reminded me of one of the main reasons I loved NYU: the unusual diversity of life experience and interests you find across the student body,” he said. “I'm sure some of them were feeling the anxiety of taking an alternative path out of law school, but I tried to reassure them that we all feel that. Even though it's a cliché, having a law degree really does benefit you in job searches in so many different fields, probably even more so today than when I graduated.”

Another facilitator, Tiffany Stevens ’02, is director of operations for Girls Write Now, an organization that matches at-risk New York City high school girls with professional female writers who serve as personal mentors and writing coaches. “It was great to delve into all the different things to consider when choosing how to do nonprofit work,” she said. “Area of focus, size of organization, and where the organization is in its own life cycle are important factors that really influence your day-to-day experience. I hope that by discussing my path and strategies to transition into a non-legal role at a mission-driven social change organization, I was able to illuminate the path for other alums.”

Stacey McFadin '07, until recently a litigation associate, attended the forum to learn more about non-legal options for J.D. graduates, and expressed an interest in attending similar events in the future. "Over the course of the evening, I learned that most of the speakers' paths to their current jobs were far from linear," she said. "The importance of networking and being open to ideas one might not have originally considered were also recurring themes." McFadin also said she appreciated that Morrison had kicked off the event on his first day: "To paraphrase what he said, it's a testament to the progressive nature of NYU Law that the school would offer an event of this kind."

Posted on June 18, 2013