Before telling you why I chose HLS, I’d like to share a brief story about a childhood mentor and role model. Harvey Schein graduated from Harvard Law School and went to work for a large, prestigious law firm. Craving new excitement, and armed with his HLS degree, Harvey transitioned into business and joined CBS. He helped build CBS’s music business, Columbia Records, into what it is today. His vision did not go unnoticed and Harvey soon after became one of the first Americans to head a Japanese company when a small electronics manufacturer asked him to serve as their president and CEO. That electronics manufacturer was called Sony. Harvey Schein went on to be one of the most respected and generous leaders in the corporate world and left an inspiring legacy. Sadly, he passed-away a year before I was admitted to HLS, but I know he would have been proud when I joined the Harvard Law family.
When choosing a law school, I focused on programs and opportunities relating to private practice — particularly corporate law, taxation, and trusts and estates. I knew I wanted to practice in New York, so did some research on well-known law firms and was amazed at the number of HLS graduates working as partners and associates at all of these firms. In fact, if you look to the Chambers and Partners review of leading practitioners, it reads like a who’s who of HLS alumni. What makes our alumni base so special, though, is how receptive they are to current students. I’ve reached out to many renowned practitioners, judges and businesspeople for my Credence Corporate Revival column, to discuss research ideas or just to chat about life and practicing law. And while none of them know me, each and every one has taken my call or responded to my email, and all generously offer their time, knowledge and expertise to help a young law student find his way. One of the many benefits of HLS’s heritage and storied alumni achievement is that no matter where you want to go in your career, you’ll always find an inspiring story and a helping hand.
After your first year of law school, it becomes time to “get down to business” (i.e. find a summer job). And despite the economic downturn, business at HLS is good. During our early interview program in August, hundreds of law firms and employers came to Cambridge from all over the world just to interview HLS students. As one interviewer said, “Our firm loves HLS grads — clients specifically ask for them.” The weeklong experience was hectic, but it was a valuable experience and a lot of fun. I personally interviewed with thirty-three highly-respected law firms from New York, but I have friends who interviewed for (and accepted) jobs in every major legal market on the planet.
Finding a job can be daunting, and fortunately the Office of Career Services (OCS) is here to help every step along the way. OCS hosts tremendous programs year-round and did a fantastic job preparing my classmates and me for the job hunt this year. I had my very own personal coach, Vivian Wexler, who helped me prepare for interviews, critiqued my resume, and played “matchmaker” to help me find the perfect firm for my legal interests and personality. Before joining the Office of Career Services as the Assistant Director for J.D. Advising, Vivian was an all-star mergers & acquisitions lawyer, so I knew I was getting great advice! When the interview process came to an end, the OCS team helped me decide on a great firm in New York that was started by HLS grads (Paul Roth and William D. Zabel), pioneered hedge fund legal practice, and is home to one of the best trusts and estates teams . . . ever. In fact, I hear the OCS staff is so good that match.com has been trying to steal their secrets for years! In all seriousness, though, I can honestly say that every 2L I know has a fantastic job lined-up for this summer, which says a lot in this tough legal market.
By now hopefully you’ve read about some of the amazing courses at HLS, like Mergers & Acquisitions with Vice-Chancellor Leo Strine, the M&A Workshop with Visiting Professor and all-star dealmaker Mark Gordon, and trusts and estates with the one-of-a-kind Robert Sitkoff, but equally awesome are the opportunities to interact with professors outside the classroom. For example, right now Professors Guhan Subramanian and Robert Clark are each advising me as I write my first legal article for publication, which will be published in a major international law journal. Also, I’ve had the pleasure of helping Climenko Fellow Lilian Faulhaber research international taxation issues for presentation to the EU Commission on Tax Law. Additionally, professors are great about holding generous office hours for individual or group discussion with students —about anything at all.
No matter what you want to do — or if you don’t know what you want to do at all — you can’t beat the resources and opportunities at Harvard, especially when it comes to private practice. No matter where you want to be or what you want to do, a few years in Cambridge will get you there and beyond.