NYU Law welcomed 180 students from 59 colleges and universities for the 2019 Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) Career Institute—a five-day series of workshops and panels that developed the students’ networking and professional skills and provided insight into career opportunities. Organized by LEDA, the event took place August 10-14, with NYU Law serving as the host.
“Throughout the week, this outstanding group of young leaders learned how to navigate career exploration, engage with employer partners and explore careers across a wide range of sectors and industries, and were coached by seasoned career development professionals,” says Beth Breger, executive director of LEDA, in an email. “Executing this event with the NYU School of Law as our host was a remarkable experience for LEDA Career Fellows.”
Aspiring lawyers attended the Law Career Panel, which was moderated by Jesse Furman, a US District Judge for the Southern District of New York and son of the late Jay Furman ’71, for whom the Law School’s Furman Hall is named. The panelists included Eri Andriola, Jesus Franco ’16, Zebulun Johnson, Jessica Soto, Melissa Vallejo, and Paul White ’16. The panelists discussed their career paths, the challenges of taking the Law School Admission Test, the steps to take after deciding to pursue law, and the importance of networking.
“Picture yourself sitting in this room as a college sophomore…What would you want to have known back then that you know now?” Furman asked the panel. He also asked if they had any regrets about their decision to become a lawyer.
“If you’re seriously considering going to law school…you should really talk to lawyers in your family, talk to lawyers generally, or go work at a law firm or in a legal department for a company or organization,” said Franco, a LEDA alumnus and an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. “Do I regret it?” he added, “I don’t. I had an amazing time here at NYU Law with great professors and learned so much—I feel that I understand the world better just by being a lawyer.”
Emory University student Adiela Vasquez, who is considering a career as an immigration and criminal defense lawyer, attended the panel. “I was interested in listening to the experiences of attorneys that are also from low-income backgrounds so that I could learn about the factors they considered in deciding which type of law they wanted to practice,” Vasquez says.
“My biggest takeaway was that it is a great idea to work as a paralegal a year or a few years before attending law school,” she adds. “I learned that doing this is helpful because it allows you to understand the responsibilities associated with being a lawyer.”