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James Boyd
IU Maurer School of Law

Caroline Dowd-Higgins
Director, Office of Career and Professional Development

Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009

Law school series explores alternative legal careers

Feb. 9, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Facing an uncertain job market, law students are seeking more than the traditional options to put their degrees to work. Indiana University Maurer School of Law spotlights several of these options in its Alternative Legal Careers panel discussion series. All events are free and open to the public.

Michael Keller, assistant dean of the law school's Office of Career and Professional Development, said the series is a great opportunity to show the diversity of paths a law school graduate can take.

Becky Robbins

Rebecca Robbins

"A lot of our students start off with a law firm, and many others choose a wide array of other career paths," he said. "Even those who start at the firm will likely go in another direction since, on average, 80 percent of law graduates from across the country leave their jobs within the first five years."

The next session in the series, "Legal Careers in Publishing, Communications, Consulting and Development," will take place at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the Moot Court Room. Confirmed speakers include:

  1. Judith Newton, an Indianapolis attorney and freelance writer
  2. Rebecca Robbins, JD'84, a consumer advocate columnist and editorial board member for the Bloomington Herald-Times
  3. Robyn Schuster, JD'01, assistant dean for marketing and communications at the IU Maurer School of Law
  4. Pete Wentz, executive vice president of APCO Worldwide's Chicago office
  5. Brian Williams, JD'89, vice president for development at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Panelists will explain how they use their law degrees and related skills in their respective careers.

For instance, Robbins retired after more than 15 years practicing law to focus on writing. When she was offered the opportunity to take over a consumer advocacy column at the Herald-Times, it seemed like the perfect fit. Her legal background made her well suited to handle questions about matters ranging from landlord-tenant disputes to consumer complaints.

"I couldn't have anticipated how valuable the skills and experience I gained as a lawyer would be in the field of journalism," she said. "My law degree has helped open doors many times in my new career."

Brian Williams

Brian Williams

Future events in the series include "Legal Careers in Higher Education" (Feb. 25) and "Legal Careers in Politics and Government" (March 11). Both events will begin at noon. Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, JD'85, and former mayor John Fernandez, JD'92, are scheduled to speak at the latter presentation.

The series began Jan. 27 with "Legal Careers in Banking, Finance, Tax and Corporate." Doug Hyman, JD'95, a financial adviser for UBS Financial Services in Chicago and a panelist in the first event, told students they should take the opportunity to explore their interests while still in school.

"I never thought I'd be working in wealth management," Hyman said. "From my standpoint, the earlier you can figure out where your interests lie, the better. There's no right answer, there's no magic pill. The important thing is that if you're conscious about where your interests are, you'll be far more ahead of the game."