Cindy Reed, L’80

Cindy Reed, L’80, is the president and chief executive officer of LTR Holdings, LLC, a Providence, Rhode Island, firm that invests in start-up ventures and provides strategic business planning services.

Q: What do you think Northeastern students gain from the cooperative education program?

A: “What you gain in a cooperative professional school is a real understanding of what you will be doing every day. Because the traditional law school education is almost exclusively focused on learning the substantive areas of the law, it really doesn’t expose you at all to how you will put that learning into practice.

“Students at Northeastern, however, get four opportunities to experience the practice before they graduate, which puts them in a much better position to hit the ground running when they start their first job.

“Lawyers who don’t have the advantage of a co-op program only get one chance to see what it is like in the real world. Co-op also gives students the chance to see different types of practice, if they wish, so that they can better decide what area of the law appeals to them and what kind of legal environment is right for them — whether it be government, not-for-profit, or a large or small law firm, for example.

Q: How did co-op influence your education and career path?

A: “Three of the four co-ops I did were in larger firms in Boston. My first experience with how to handle clients, how to manage cases, how to negotiate complex transactions, and how the business side of a law practice works, came directly through my co-op experience.

“I think the best part of my experience was the ability to develop strong, lasting relationships with wonderful mentors. Two, in particular, stand out in my mind. One was the person I worked for on my very first co-op, a solo practitioner in public sector labor and employment law. He was a stickler for good writing as well as someone who would let you participate in every kind of matter in the office at the time — whether it was an arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. He became and still is a friend and mentor.

“The other was a senior female tax attorney at a prominent Boston firm. She took me under her wing and taught me so much about the non-academic aspects of the practice — what was important in an interview, how to negotiate compensation and promotions, who were the people I really needed to know. I called her for advice so many times long after I graduated.”

Q: Was co-op a determining factor in your decision to enroll at Northeastern?

A: “The financial advantages of the co-op program can be very significant. I had to work my way through law school and was concerned about how I was going to manage it. The opportunity to work on co-op and have the help and support to obtain paid legal jobs and internships was critical for me. I couldn’t have afforded to do it any other way; co-op gave me a path. I wish every law school had a co-op structure. I think it would improve law school education tremendously and make for much better lawyers in the long run.