Former Clerk, Mark Wolf, District Judge in Massachusetts; PhD candidate at Princeton University
Where did you work/do prior to entering law school?
I worked as a teacher, a journalist, a political campaign scheduler, a philanthropic grantmaker, and a public radio producer.
Why did you decide to go to law school after being away from school for so many years?
I decided to go to law school because I realized that a law degree would enable me to pursue my longstanding interest in policy and politics in any number of fora: in a statehouse, in public interest advocacy, in policy development, in academia.
What skills that you developed throughout your pre-law career do you think were helpful and most transferrable to your summer law jobs?
A familiarity with different work environments, with the larger world of public interest advocacy and organizing (particularly in the field of campaign finance reform, my own area of interest), and with different management styles, as well as an ability to ask cogent questions and to work efficiently towards deadlines.
HLS Spotlight: Alumni
“Having worked prior to law school can give students an experiential advantage, helping them to figure out more quickly and with more certainty the work they hope to do upon graduation.”
— Jane Manners '09 Former Clerk, Mark Wolf, District Judge in Massachusetts; PhD candidate at Princeton University
How did you handle discussing your pre-law school career experience during a summer job interview? If you had a real change in direction, how did you handle it?
I felt that my previous career(s), while varied, did actually point me towards a legal career, and I appreciated the chance in interviews to explain how my past experience prepared me for legal work. In general, I found that potential employers appreciated the fact that I had prior work experience.
Did you find public interest employers were concerned about or liked your non-linear career path?
Overwhelmingly, I found it was a plus.
Did you include or exclude anything on your resume or elaborate on areas of past work experience so potential employers would pay attention about your past experience or avoid questions regarding it?
I tailored my resume depending on the jobs I was applying for to make sure that potential employers knew of relevant past work experience. I did not make changes to avoid questions.
What suggestions do you have for other non-traditional students that might help them throughout the course of their time at HLS?
Having worked prior to law school can give students an experiential advantage, helping them to figure out more quickly and with more certainty the work they hope to do upon graduation. I recommend that non-traditional students take advantage of this sense of purpose and of direction by honing their activities and coursework in law school accordingly, and by making sure that potential employers know of their previous work experience and expertise.
Do you have any suggestions on how they might get involved at HLS? Were there any resources that are/were particularly helpful for you during your time at HLS?
OPIA was a fabulous resource, as was the Dean of Students’ Office, particularly when I took a year off to have a baby.