Guarini Government Summer Series panel convenes alumni in federal government to discuss D.C. careers

On June 26, two dozen NYU Law students attended the latest installment of the Frank J. Guarini Government Summer Series in Washington, D.C. The event, a “Policy, Politics, and Government” breakfast panel discussion, was hosted by the Law School’s Public Interest Law Center at the offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. The Washington theme was buttressed not only by a talented panel of alumni with impressive careers spanning a diverse array of federal government service, but also by the event’s location steps from the White House in a panoramic office building overlooking historic Lafayette Square.

The Summer Series, created for NYU Law students working for the summer in the nation’s capital, aims to support their interest in federal government careers. The panel marked the second event in the series, which kicked off on June 4 with a reception at the home of Eric Koenig ’84. Both Dean Richard Revesz and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz ’84 spoke to the crowd of roughly 100 NYU Law students and alumni at the kickoff event.

Lily BatchelderThe June 26 panel included Gail Laster ’82, deputy chief counsel of the House Committee on Financial Services; Janet Hostetler ’05, senior advisor to the assistant secretary for fair housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Mario Mancuso ’95, a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson and former under secretary of commerce for industry and security. The panel was moderated by NYU Law Professor Lily Batchelder, currently on leave to serve as chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. The panelists urged those interested in a federal government career to nurture their passions while exploring all possibilities.

Laster explained that a recent law school graduate desiring a career in Washington should seize opportunities as they are presented, including positions that may not squarely emphasize the professional’s long-term objectives. In time, she explained, further opportunities will come available, and so the key is to get a foot in the door rather than wait for a dream job to come along. Her own career trajectorywhich has included stints in public defense, at an executive agency, and in a Congressional officealigns with her advice. She also spoke about how Washington is a great town for a healthy work-life balance, noting that she even took a few years off to be home with her kids.

Hostetler suggested that, while a possible path to a government career is issue-area expertise, another route for law students interested in less traditional legal careers is simply being good at fixing problems and getting things done.  Her current role, for example, is a mixture of policy development, organizational management, and leadership development. Previously, she worked with grass-roots movements, non-profits, and campaigns.

Mancuso emphasized that following one’s passion and taking risks can reap rewards. An army officer prior to entering law school, he was drawn to two seemingly opposing interests: corporate law and armed services. After beginning his career as a corporate associate in a New York law firm, he took a year off to volunteer for a combat tour in Iraq. Upon returning, he resumed his legal career through positions in the Departments of Defense and Commerce. One thing led to the next, and, by infusing his career with his own passions and values, he is now a leading authority on the national security regulation of international businessa perfect blending of two previously disparate tracks.

Posted on June 27, 2012