Alumni Board Lunch Series Helps Students Build Professional Networks
The Hon. Karen C. Friedman '97
Judge, District Court of Maryland
First year student Stephanie Owen created her own shadow/internship with Judge Karen Friedman following a lunch with District Court Judges and students in October.
District Court Judges Nathan Bravernman '81, Karen C. Friedman '97, Gregory Sampson '85 and Halee F. Weinstein '89 were talking to students about the importance of networking and the topic of clerkships came up at lunch.
Judge Braverman explained that District Court clerking is different from other courts in that there are generally a couple of clerks for several judges at District Court versus one clerk with a judge in other courts. Judge Friedman added that while there may be limited clerkship opportunities, many judges including her, have allowed students to shadow them for a week or two.
“I had a student contact me and ask to shadow me, “Judge Friedman told the students. “Each day I would go through the docket and we would discuss cases. I also introduced him to several other judges, lawyers and staff in the courts. I always try to help students whenever I can.”
Students followed up with questions about how to get a shadow internship opportunity, and Judge Friedman added “Contact a judge directly and show you are interested. Some will do it, others won’t. You just have to try.”
Owen was at lunch that day and took the opportunity as an open invitation to ask Judge Friedman to shadow. Owens contacted Friedman directly and will be spending more than a week of her winter break in District Court, no doubt an invaluable experience for a law student.
The Alumni Board hosts a lunch series of 4-6 lunches per semester featuring an Alumni Board member, along with one to three alumni practitioners, discussing what it’s like to be a professional in their respective practice areas. Now in its third year, more than 50 alumni have volunteered their time to talk with students about the legal profession, and more than 300 students have attended. Lunches are provided by gifts from alumni and friends to the UM Carey Law Fund.
Creating connections among alumni and between alumni and with students is a focus of our Board,” said President Manny Ocasio ’02. “Alumni give their time to talk with students, offer career suggestions or advice and then the 10-15 students at the lunch have an opportunity to follow up with the alumni. Student feedback has been tremendously positive, and Board members are eager to participate again.”
“I love these lunches with students,” said former Board president Liz Kameen ’83. “It’s a great way to volunteer and make a difference. Not just at lunch, but many students have followed up, and it’s created several mentor relationships. Still three years after having doing one of the lunches, I still have students contacting me.”
Students like Stephanie are showing the true value in the program—providing the opportunity for students to follow up with alumni and build their professional networks. Ask any lawyer how to find a job and the answer is simple, it’s all about networking and who you know.