By Francine Chen, Student, Minor in Law and Public Policy
Erica Melito attended Northeastern from 2010 to 2014, graduating with a BS in Political Science and a Minor in Law and Public Policy. She is currently working at Bain Capital as a legal affairs associate in the Capital Markets team where on a team of five, only herself and one other person are not lawyers. Although she is happily working in the legal field, from this experience, Melito has decided that she would rather pursue a MBA rather than a JD.
Here, Melito chats about law school, the legal field, and the LPP minor.
A: They were looking for someone fresh out of school that was considering law school. I had sat for the LSATs but decided I wasn’t going to go right away, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to dabble in the legal realm before going off to law school. And that’s what the job was designed for: someone who is fresh out of school looking to join a legal team before moving on to law school or another graduate program.
A: No, I don’t regret not going to law school at all. Going to law school is a lot of work, it’s very hard and very competitive, and unless you’re able to go to a top tier program, it’s hard to get a job at a top tier law firm. But ultimately those jobs at corporate law firms have very long hours and not a lot of spare time – you need to make sure you are setting yourself up for something you’re passionate about before taking on the burden of debt. Don’t go to law school unless you actually want to be a lawyer, practice law, or have some kind of driving passion in law. If you’re going because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do, it ends up being a massive burden to undertake, and you need to be certain that’s what you want to be doing.
A: Make sure you speak with lawyers, both lawyers that have worked in big law, in-house counsel, government lawyers, or lawyers who now are in academia. It’s very important you get a well-rounded perspective on how people feel about being lawyers. Get some feedback! Are they happy with what they’re doing, their work life, their passions? Would they still go back to law school? Are they happy with their decision? Because a lot of people would say they wish they had not gone to law school. It’s important that you ask people those questions before you take on the responsibility that is pursing a JD. I would also, as an individual, focus on self-reflecting, if this is exactly what I want to do. If you’re anything less than 100 percent certain that you want to practice law, you need to pump the breaks and really think about it.
A: Absolutely. Even if at the end of the day you still want to go to law school, you are a far more competitive candidate by having that experience. You’re more well-seasoned and can demonstrate your abilities to work with people. You can also show the admissions committee that you’ve thought about this for a couple of years, which bolsters your decision and why you want to go to law school: ‘I took three years off and I would still want to do that.’ Having the experience is far more compelling than undergraduate studies, and saying that you want to be a lawyer.
A: The LPP minor and curriculum trained me to communicate and articulate well, as well as reviewing, synthesizing, and analyzing in a more interactive curriculum. For example, moot court definitely helped me in my career, as it involves a lot of face to face activities and communication. I’m working with people internally and externally, and having the ability to communicate effectively was important. Also, I do a lot of reading and examination of documentation, security regulations, trading restrictions, and contracts, and the LPP minor helped me build a foundation in understanding law and public policy. But really, the reading and the writing has helped me strengthen both of those skills, which are transferable to any job in any industry.
MPP student Rachel Shaheen has been blogging about @SasserModestino's “Economic Analysis for Law, Policy, and Planning” class and the organizing work she is doing with Raise Up Massachusetts. Check out her blog, No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: ow.ly/uiwv30h6gKx #Northeastern
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