by Amanda Glodowski
Nine successful Harpur alumni attorneys shared their perspectives with prospective law students during Winter Session.
The course, “Current Issues in Legal Practice,” was held over the span of three January days in Times Square, where students were able to sample several areas of the field, ranging from immigration to employment to finance.
“We wanted to offer the students a unique insight into the practice, and allow them to reach a level of understanding that undergrads are typically not privy to,” said Nolana Quince, Harpur pre-law advisor. “The prestige of the alumni who have agreed to come speak with the students has caused this course to surpass all of my expectations.”
Jessica Lorden '83 studied political science at Harpur College before advancing to Duke University School of Law. Lorden is employed at IBM Corp., where her main focus is human resources and employment law, but she also works on aspects of intellectual property ownership. She spoke to the students about her pursuit in balancing her professional career with her family life, as well as the importance of personal growth in one's career.
“What I recommend to all of you is that you think about ‘T shaped’ skills,” Lorden said. “Think about the top of the T: that’s the breadth of the skills. Make sure that with every job you take, you broaden your skillset. You also have to pay attention to the vertical part of the T: that’s the depth of your skills. Every single job that you do should reinforce those two things. Those things are the best recipe for a comprehensive you in lawyering.”
Lorden also serves as vice chair of the Harpur College Advocacy Council, and is a mentor to Harpur students in the Liberal Arts to Careers Externship (LACE) program.
Bobby Liu '93 graduated summa cum laude from Harpur College with a double major in economics and history before attending New York University School of Law. Currently chief operating officer and general counsel of M.D. Sass Securities, Liu spoke about a financial approach to law, specifically talking to the students about hedge funds. Liu also stressed the importance of grades, and keeping and open mind during one's undergraduate career.
“You don’t know what the future is going to be, so keep your eyes open,” Liu said. “The most important thing right now is to learn about as many areas as you can, while getting the best grades possible. Law is all about pedigree.”
Michael Garcia ’83 (pictured at top) graduated with honors from Harpur College with an English degree. He then went on to earn his J.D. (summa cum laude Valedictorian) from Albany Law School. Garcia is a partner at the New York and Washington D.C. offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Garcia formed an open discussion with the students with topics ranging from immigration law to stop and frisk policies, while maintaining honesty in describing the field.
“It’s the best job in the world,” Garcia said. ”You can do whatever you want. You can do a white-collar security case, terrorism case, gangs, or work on major narcotics trafficking. Your office will give you anything, and there will be headlines in the paper with your name, and the only thing your office asks from you in return will be everything.”
The students were eager to take advantage of this unique opportunity and get a more realistic sense of the field they plan on pursuing.
“I’m trying to get a broader sense of the field, and figure out what kind of law I want to pursue,” said Tara Dennington, a junior double majoring in politics, philosophy, and law, and history. “All the speakers have had interesting experiences in their fields, and have a lot of great advice to offer us. They were in my shoes at one point, and show you how to get from here to there. I’m getting such great insight of what lies ahead for me.”
Sohil Sharedalal, a senior majoring in political science was also thankful for the perspective gained through the Winter Session, saying, “It’s very encouraging; we are now where they used to be, and the fact that they’re so successful shows us that the possibilities for us are endless.”
Last Updated: 6/3/15