The BC Law Magazine Candid Q&A is a growing collection of conversations with members of the BC Law community—students, faculty, alumni, and close friends—on lives lived, careers made, missions accomplished, causes championed, and the general hubbub of being a human in the 21st century.
IN THIS INTERVIEW, JASON TRIPLETT ’14, MANAGER OF ATTORNEY RECRUITING AT KIRKLAND & ELLIS’S BOSTON OFFICE, FOCUSES ON THE MAKING OF CAREERS—HIS OWN AND OTHERS’—THE IMPACT OF BC LAW, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF BELONGING, AS A STUDENT, ALUMNUS, AND MEMBER OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.
Triplett was raised in a small town outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He became the first in his family to go to college—“When I graduated in marketing from a state school in South Louisiana I was under the impression that I was now qualified to run a business; I was ready for my C-suite position; CEO, ready to take the reins!”—and to work in corporate America, sampling jobs in recruiting, sales, and an accounting consulting firm. He was contemplating getting an executive MBA when a budding romance triggered a competition between the partners that eventually led him to law school.
Triplett did not start out his journey knowing that he wanted to become an attorney. In 2009, he went on a first date with someone he thought he could see a future with, but the man (who would years later become his fiancé) told him on their second date that they probably shouldn’t get serious because he was going to be moving away to go to dental school. Triplett decided that he needed “something better than dental school” if he was going to save the relationship. That night he started researching medical schools, physician assistant programs, and other graduate options, discarding most because they required too many prerequisites. Then he came across law school—one entrance exam, no prerequisites.
Q: What happened next?
A: When I realized that all you had to do was take the LSAT and that was it, I thought, well, this is perfect. So, on our third date I went to him and said, “Hey look, I gave a lot of thought to what you said on our second date, and I agree, we shouldn’t get serious because I’m going to be going to law school.”
I started studying for the LSAT as a kind of ruse. But then we began getting serious and I was six or seven months into my studies when I was like, I should probably go ahead and just take the test. When I did well, I thought, I should probably go to law school (laughs).
Q: How important do you think it is in life to take risks or try new things?
A: It’s extremely important. At each stage of my career, I didn’t necessarily have a plan. I didn’t strike out to become a corporate trainer at a mortgage company. I took a chance on a job as a loan officer first. When the opportunity presented itself—and though I didn’t have any experience as a corporate trainer, it did interest me—I threw my hat in the ring and got the job. It became a passion.
Q: Is that why, after many years of corporate work, law school, and big law practice, you circled back to that role at Kirkland & Ellis?
A: Yes. I would have never even known it was a job or a career without taking advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves in the past. When I interviewed for my current job as a recruiter it was the culmination of everything I’d done. The experiences helped me steer my boat to where it is now. Being open-minded and not afraid lets you punch a bit above your weight. There were many times when I was probably the lesser qualified candidate, but I didn’t let that stop me.
Q: What does your job entail?
A: I get really, really excited about all of the aspects of my job. I love the event planning. I love going on campus and meeting law students. I love helping people find their passion. I love meeting lateral attorneys and sharing why I’m so excited to work at Kirkland & Ellis and what makes it such a great firm. It’s my dream job. People often ask, “What’s next?” And I say, “I don’t want to do anything next. I just want to do this because it’s what I love doing.”
Q: What attracted you to Boston College Law School?
A: About law school in general I felt a little out of my element with respect to what I know because I was all of a sudden going to be going to school with kids from Harvard and Princeton and Yale and all these really impressive institutions. That’s not where I came from.
But I also understood the importance of a network. Hearing about BC Law, hearing about the alumni network, hearing about how well connected and willing alumni were to go out of their way to help and work with law students, struck a chord with me. My thought process was, basically, if it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This was the best fit for me.
Q: Did BC Law meet your expectations?
A: It blew them out of the water from day one. At a welcome reception before classes started I was meeting the classmates, the professors, and felt so welcomed into this community. Things just continued to build on that amazing first interaction.
Q: Why do you think that is?
A: People just love being at BC Law. I have a theory about this and it has to do with the location of our campus. We’re in Newton, and you can’t just walk to a Quiznos or a McDonald’s for lunch. When you’re on campus, you’re on campus for the day. We’re all there spending time with each other, getting to know each other, and becoming friends That creates a sense of community, a kind of bubble.
I have so, so many best friends from law school. I’m six years out now, and I still regularly text my friends from law school. The relationships that we made on campus felt like more of a family than anything else. It’s funny, our entire class of 2014 is very tight knit. We get together for holiday parties, engagements, births, you name it.
Coming into law school, I thought I was going to lose my social life, that it was going to be all about studying 24/7 in the library. Instead, I inherited this unbelievable social life with great friends. Sure, there are times when it’s a grind, but even when you’re crushing it, cramming for finals, you’re in it with your best friends.
Q: It sounds as though you have a deep emotional attachment to the school.
A: I tell people all the time that my three years at BC Law are the best three years of my life. If I had to pick a time when I was happiest, that I look back on with the most fondness, it truly is my years at BC Law. It was a phenomenal time, and I think all the alums feel that way, which is why they are so excited about hearing from law students. Whenever you get a chance to go back and talk to someone who’s living that experience now, you get to relive it yourself a little bit.
Q: You had an interesting experience with an alum that seems to exemplify that. Could you tell the story?
A: I knew how important networking with alumni was, so as a 1L, I asked Professor [Ingrid] Hillinger to give me some contacts right off the bat.
I remember reaching out to Donald Savery [Class of 1993], who was a vice president at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts at the time, and saying, “Hi, Mr. Savery, I’m one of Professor Hillinger’s students. I’d love to have coffee with you.”
He responded, ‘I’ll come out to Newton. I haven’t seen Ingrid in years. I’ll come.’
I said, “Oh, no sir, I could never ask you to do that, I know how busy you are.”
‘No, no, no. I would love to come out there and meet with you.’
And so it was that this big time lawyer came out to speak with me about practicing the law.
Q: You were co-chair of Lambda, the LGBTQ student organization, when you were a 2L. What was your experience with the group like?
A: If BC Law was a family, Lambda was my nuclear mom, dad, brother, and sister. We’re a massively tight knit group and every year we get to meet the new Lambda law students who come in and continually add them to our family. They are my favorite people from BC Law and my best friends. I can’t thank Lambda enough for everything that they gave me because—and I really think that had a lot to do with why I wanted to be so involved—they gave me so much, I wanted to give back. I wanted to make sure that every LGBTQ law student who came through those doors after me had that same experience, because it was so transformative for me.
Q: What was the learning environment like?
A: It was about teaching you how to think like a lawyer, how to question things, how to look at issues from both sides or from every side and anticipating all of the different responses that might occur. In the beginning, when professors cold call on you and ask you to answer a question, it’s terrifying, but they are laying the groundwork for you to think on your toes and be prepared.
As scary as it is to have, say, Professor Hillinger calling on you in the classroom, you soon realize that no one cares more about her students. All these professors dedicate their lives, not just to teaching law, but to seeing to it that their students succeed.
Q: What would you say today to someone thinking about attending law school?
A: I never dreamed that I would achieve the things I achieved, certainly as a big law attorney, which I was for a while. But I also have friends who are prosecutors and DAs, who are in the justice department and in the executive branches at various agencies doing things that they are excited about. It’s the whole gamut. One of my best friends is a massively successful venture capitalist.
If you asked any of us to compare where we are today based on when we were filling out those law school applications, I would wager that we’ve all completely surpassed whatever preconceived notions of success that we had for ourselves.
Interview by Mark Gargarian
Photograph by Adam DeTour