For law students graduating in the wake of last decade’s recession, the profession they entered wasn’t the one they had imagined when they began law school. But, as the Philadelphia Business Journal reports, some of them have found their footing in a profession turned upside down and, in the process, made their mark as millennials to watch. Four of the lawyers profiled in the report hail from Temple Law: Julie Berson LAW ’11, Kevin Harden Jr. LAW ’10, Nipun Patel LAW ’08, and Marcel Pratt LAW ’09.
“Today’s law students definitely expect to be much more entrepreneurial in their practices,” says Assistant Dean for Career Services Melissa Lennon. “They recognize that being a lawyer today presents both a challenge and an opportunity to take responsibility for your own success.”
Kevin Harden LAW ’10 is a case in point. Now an associate at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, Harden began his legal career in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. He told the Philadelphia Business Journal that among other changes to the profession, he has observed a shift in how his peers perceive the professional opportunities available to them: “When I first started law school, there was a stigma attached to alternative uses of law degrees,” Harden said. “Now I think there’s almost a stigma for those who stay at firms.”
Millenial lawyers, says Dean Lennon, want what has traditionally been described as better “work-life balance,” but they also want different things when they’re at work than their predecessors. “What I’ve seen in our students is that they expect to work hard, and they’re prepared to create real value for their clients,” Lennon remarked. “But in exchange, they also expect greater responsibility earlier in their careers, and more opportunities for professional growth. They’re in charge of their development as lawyers, and that autonomy is important to them.”
Lennon, who is also President –Elect of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), a coalition of more than 2,500 legal career professionals who advise law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools in North America and beyond, hopes to use her service there to encourage further change in the profession. “NALP stands for fairness, facts and the power of a diverse community. This powerful membership organization is dedicated to leveling the playing field, and making sure all students are given the opportunity to apply for all jobs,” Lennon said. “Today’s students crave information about the workplaces they are applying to, and NALP helps provide that data, and a structure in which they have time to make informed decisions. NALP does all of this in light of its historic mandate to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.”
In addition to Harden, the Journal profiled Julie Berson LAW ’11, an associate at Kleinbard who clerked for both the Honorable Louis Pollak and the Honorable Norma Shapiro; Nipun Patel LAW ’08, a partner at Reed Smith who is active in several community organizations, including the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group; and Marcel Pratt LAW ’09, who chairs the City of Philadelphia Law Department’s litigation unit. The full profiles of all 25 lawyers can be read at http://bizj.us/1p6cex.