By DiarraJoi ClemonsMcCullen • August 16, 2017•Writers in Residence, Careers, Legal Academia, Other Career Issues, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Other Law School Issues, Issues, •Balancing Private and Professional Life, Mentoring and Networking, Women and Law in the Media, Features, Myths & Truths
Becoming a powerful female attorney or law school Juris Doctor of Law (J.D.) graduate in today’s grueling professional circle is no small feat for many in today’s society. May I first start out by applauding all of my fellow law school graduates and attorney groups for completing this perilous journey while many others failed or strayed too far from the path. Being a Ms. JD law school survivor or attorney in any city means you need to build and continue connections with people in the professional community at all times. Reach out with a phone call, text or social media connection to let people know you’re still cheering them on in the legal community when they may feel like they’re always standing alone. The people you grew to know in law school will many times become your close associates and friends if you stay within the same law school area. There is even the chance of getting assistance from your law school when you are searching for a new job post law school graduation which will reconnect you with the law school staff and current students. Never miss an opportunity to stay connected or build on your ever expanding legal foundation.
Post law school graduation, I moved away from the NYC area being mindful I would soon return to keep pursuing my legal career. Once I returned to NY, I reconnected with my law school to use their jobs database and career services office meeting one-on-one with my law school career faculty helped me elevate my resume, make a job search plan and reconnect with fellow alumni. This one-on-one meeting style is a great way to discuss any legal issue or problem you face within the legal community. Eventually I will begin to branch out within the legal field to plan on attending or starting group legal gatherings. As a law school student at New York Law School, one of the best Attorney group experiences I had was being selected to sit in on discussions of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) securities litigation group. Every time I attended I learned more and more about a future career to which I had much interest. I suggest Ms. JD’s and attorneys alike join the ABA and NY State Bar Associations small group chapters to stay within contact with like-minded individuals in the legal community. Attending these meetings for a little under a year, helped me stay afloat within the financial services community I was working in during and after law school. On the ABA’s website at www.americanbar.org, there are 21 different sections of law groups of attorneys, JDs and law school students to which you can sign up and be included in at their meetings. These meetings provide a wealth of information and you can meet like-minded individuals in the field who enjoy the same type of law you work in or which to pursue. This is also true of the various events available to you shown in the newsletter by Ms. JD, the NY State Bar Association and many other legal organizations across each individual state. I was a law school student when I first began attending legal events, as most students should as well, to make sure they remain passionate about completing their degree. You must learn how to conduct yourself in public as a legal professional.
In comparison, I’ve also seen the flip side of legal functions which have been catering to a higher dinner and cocktails society where most of the interactions stayed at a surface level because people were listening to a speaker and not each other. Both experiences were great for rounding me while in law school to discover what stress release functions would be great to attend in the legal community after a long day of work.
I worked full to part-time throughout law school at a law firm, several financial services firms and a Judicial Clerkship internship. Through work and school, I saw becoming an attorney is not all about books, reading and writing skills. But, it also includes the relationships you build over time. These will be your peers. Your graduating class. Respect for all, if not most of them is deserved. It can’t hurt to send an email or be referred to another within your legal network in times of happiness or need. Everyone has been there. If people don’t reach back, try again if they are important to you. More often than not, if you’re reaching out first, you’re in a better position than they may be currently.
Women gatherings are the key to Ms. JD’s success. While at these functions, try to strike up a conversation with a fellow unknown JD or attorney. Put a smile on their face especially if they’re standing alone looking forlorn. You may make someone’s day who can connect you to someone else who can be a future friend or associate. Seek out women’s legal associations to become a part of and attend a function at least once a month. Be sure to use some, if not all of these suggestions to be a more well-rounded JD and attorney. These close knit interactions can seal your fate on personal sanity in the fast moving legal world!
Diarra Joi Clemons McCullen, J.D. SAG-AFTRA received her Juris Doctor of Law (J.D.) degree from New York Law School, Undergraduate Degree (B.A.) from George Mason University and High School Diploma from an all-girls Catholic high school named St. Scholastica Academy in Evanston, IL. She has worked in Finance for Citibank, Morgan Stanley and Oppenheimer & Co. to name a few. She was also a Judicial Law Clerk while in law school.
She is currently a Ms. J.D. Journalist, Novelist of the novel memoir series, "Roses are Blue" and Vantage marketing and advervitising blogger. She is a military wife, enjoys painting, reading, writing and exploring new cultures. Thank you for reading!
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Respectfully ~ Diarra Joi Clemons McCullen, J.D. SAG-AFTRA
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