In Winter 2015, BC Law Magazine featured “Writing Their Way into Law School,” outstanding admission essays by five students from widely differing backgrounds in the Class of 2017. We recently caught up with them in their first weeks as practicing lawyers, and heard about their current challenges and opportunities.
Zain Ahmad’s commute is a fifteen-minute walk through Manhattan to his office at Goodwin, LLP, in the New York Times building. “I knew what I signed up for!” says Ahmad, who factored in late nights at the office when choosing his apartment. Now he applies the trouble-shooting skills showcased in his essay—he planned a 500-person Pakistani wedding for his sister—to providing a sound legal foundation for “early stage start-ups and tech companies.”
As an army officer, says Jennawe Hughes, a West Point graduate who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, you learn to take responsibility and to work independently. Having been instrumental while oversees in the arrest of a suspect who had injured a soldier, she came to the realization that “the most powerful weapon in my arsenal to be used against terrorists was not a rifle, but the proper application of the rule of law.” Now, that experience is proving invaluable at Christopher Hays Wojcik & Mavricos LLP in Worcester. She is on the front line wrestling with business litigation, trusts, and estates, while juggling clients and court appearances. In a small firm, she says, “you handle what comes at you.”
“I feel like there’s this puzzle that I can’t quite put together yet, but I’m starting to see how the pieces fit in,” says Jeremy Levesque, an associate in the asset-based lending group at Boston-based Riemer & Braunstein. His essay described the grit he needed to succeed as a first-generation college student from a blue-collar background. Levesque says he’s grateful every day for Professor Ingrid Hillinger’s Secured Transactions class. Hillinger is “a kind of celebrity at the firm,” he says. “Everyone knows her name!”
“I’m reminded all the time that we’re not doing brain surgery, and if we get something wrong, all we need to do is fix it,” says Charlene Ochogo, who has found a supportive, diverse workplace at Harter Secrest & Emery LLP in Rochester, NY. Ochogo, who wrote in her essay about being “a spot of brown in a sea of white” when her family moved from Kenya to Kentucky in 1994, is a strong believer in law as a driver of human progress. She values the firm’s encouragement of pro-bono efforts, which allow her to work with non-profits, alongside her business and corporate practice.
Mai Zymaris practiced for four years as a lawyer in her native Vietnam before completing an LLM degree at Harvard Law School and then her JD at BC Law. Leaving Vietnam, she knew she was taking a big risk, rebuilding her career from scratch in the US. Now working on mergers and acquisitions and venture capital at Boston-based Foley Hoag, she says: “I saw more opportunities in the US to work with the best minds in the legal industry, and I have found them at Foley Hoag.”