Firm Connections 2023 for Small and Mid-Size Firms A Resounding Success
The first in-person law firm networking event since 2019
Law school networking events are a great way for aspiring attorneys to make connections, learn more about the legal profession, and potentially land a job. However, in-person networking events have been few and far between since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. That's why the recent "Firm Connections 2023" event for small to mid-size firms – the first since 2019 – was so significant.
Hosted by the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD), several dozen small and mid-size firms converged on the Capital Hall Atrium at American University Washington College of Law to meet and mingle with JD and LLM students.
"Networking within the legal community is the foundation of a successful legal career," said Raquel Skinner, assistant director for employer relations for OCPD. "Many of our alumni have thrived in smaller and mid-size firms here in the DMV and we were thrilled to be able to introduce them to the next generation of motivated WCL students."
Many WCL students and recent graduates seek out smaller to mid-size firms, in part because they offer a range of benefits to new attorneys, including early hands-on experience, work-life balance, and collegial work environments. Nearly one in five graduates of the Class of 2021 started their careers at a small or mid-size firm.
"We actively recruit AU undergraduates and WCL students for our intern, law clerk, and associate positions because they routinely punch well above their weight class," said Jeffrey Katz of JDKatz, P.C. "Over the last 20 years of practice, I've found the WCL graduates are practice-ready, nose to the grindstone, and innovative thinkers, who add real value to our practice on their first day of employment."
"I was delighted to see that WCL’s students continue to be bright, hopeful, and committed to making the world a better place," said Lilah Rosenblum of Rosenblum Immigration Law, PLLC. "I enjoyed speaking with the students about their interests and career aspirations and learning about their academic and professional pursuits. Their energy and passion were palpable. Whenever I am recruiting at my firm, I always look to WCL graduates first because I know they will be thoughtful, principled, creative, and engaged problem solvers."
These sentiments also resonated with students.
Aissatou Toure, a 1L interested in International Trade Law said, "It was an amazing opportunity to meet alumni who are intimately aware of my experience here at AUWCL and are participating in different work mediums throughout the country."
Toure indicated that she had to opportunity to talk to an associate at Mowry & Grimson. "We spoke about a multitude of things including learning different languages and I have reached out to connect with him because of the reception."
"I thought it was fantastic," Sindi Connell, a 1L that joined the program after 20-plus years in the U.S. Army working in intelligence said. "I had the opportunity to talk to a variety of practitioners in areas of law I’ve had very little exposure to and create new connections. I do know that I’m interested in work that is active and dynamic, where I can constantly learn new things. There’s a lot of appeal in small to medium firms in that sense."
The buzz in the Capital Hall Atrium proved that there’s no substitute for making connections in person. According to Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development Daniela Kraiem, "students were so pleased to get to speak with alumni and employers from a range of practice areas, including immigration, family law, personal injury, business, and trade. Not everyone comes to law school with a book of contacts in the legal community. We’re committed to ensuring that our students know as many practicing lawyers as possible as they explore their options in the profession."
~Hasini Jayawardena Jayawardena; Photos by Keith Pierce