Law Day Panel - How Do you Combine Public Service and a Law Career?

Uploaded by Dartmouth on 28.09.2012

>> Xander Meise Bay: I want to thank you all for coming.
This is the last of our events related to Law Day; that are cosponsored
by the Dartmouth Lawyers Association, the Rockefeller Center,
and we've also had a great deal of help from the Office of Alumni Relations.
So I want to thank all of those groups
for helping me plan these events these last two days.
My name is Xander Meise Bay.
I'm a member of the class of 2001 and I am a Vice President
of the Dartmouth Lawyers Association.
[Background Laughter] Go Lawyers.
So today our panelist are going to talk
about how they have incorporated public service into their legal careers.
And to do that they're going to talk about why they went to law school.
what they did after law school, how their path may have been what they expected
and what they did not expect, and also where they see their career path going from here.
And then we're going to open it up to questions.
And all questions are fair game, but I will say on behalf of the panelist
that they can reserve the right not to answer, and with respect to Mr. Verelli [phonetic]
who is here in his personal capacity, he is not able to speak about any cases
that are pending before the courts.
So with that disclaimer; I think I'm going to give a very, very brief introduction of each
of the panelist: otherwise leave it to themselves.
Mr. Donald Verelli is here to my left.
He also has another title of Solicitor General,
but I will let him explain as to how one became the other.
Next we have Leah Threpenowski [phonetic] who is a member of class of 2001.
>> Leah Threpenowski: Also the class of 2000 [laughter].
>> Yeah.
>> Xander Meise Bay: [Inaudible] And says I am a member as well.
And she is an associate at Nixon Peabody in Albany, New York.
She's also very active in BATA [assumed spelling]
and any other Dartmouth Alumni activities.
To her left we have Todd Cranford [ph], a member of the class of 1985, fellow class member
to Professor John Grady [ph] who was with us on the previous panel.
Todd is currently an Of Counsel at Patten Boggs [ph] in Washington DC.
But he has held a host of other titles in his past
in both the federal government, also in a city government.
He's also worked in a political campaign.
I will leave him to give you some of those details.
And to his left, we have Craig Nolen [ph] who is a member of the class of 1990.
He is currently an Assistant US attorney
in the US Attorney's office for the District of Vermont.
And he has also worked as a State's Attorney in Vermont and in private practice in both Vermont
and North Carolina, and he's going to tell us a little bit about that path as well.
So I'm going to do a reverse of the previous panel we're going to start all the way
on the left with Craig, if Craig does not mind.
So, also if you could tell us what your major was when at Dartmouth
because lawyers certainly come from a host of majors,
and I think that everyone would be interested.
>> Craig Nolen: Fair enough, it's actually the first thing on my notes [laughter].
It could have said you hit your mid 40's, and all of a sudden you have to have make notes
about what you've done over the past 15, 20, 25 years.
So, you come talk to people..
>> And it takes 15, 20 minutes.
>> Craig Nolen: ...about it.
>> [Laughter].
>> Craig Nolen: So, I don't think this disclaimer's needed,
but I am going to disclaim anyway.
This is Craig on Craig and legal jobs.
It is not Eric Holder on Craig and legal job, because I am with the Department of Justice.
I was a Psych major here at Dartmouth, and I thought frankly
that I would go on in psychology.
I had a lot of practice at home listening to my mom and my dad and my two brothers,
and I enjoyed that, but ultimately decided that I would not pursue it.
Senior year I wasn't sure what I was going to do.
And eventually I found really a way right back to psychology by going to law school,
and ending up as a State prosecutor and then a Federal prosecutor.
Senior year -- and this is mostly directed at the students.
You know, senior year I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and a couple
of my friends got into law school.
I thought that sounded interesting.
So I decided to spend a couple of years checking that it out.
Not by going to law school initially, but actually I worked as a paralegal.
There were lots of folks who would take their off terms and go to New York City,
and back then make $10 an hour; which seemed like good money working for Paul Wise
or some of the other large firms.
They were called project assistants and they had a great time.
I think they worked, you know, late every night, and then went out late every night,
and then showed back up at work at 9 or 10 or 11 when everything started back up again.
So I did that.
I did that for a year in New York, and I did that for a year in Washington DC
with a satellite office of a midwestern firm that has since dissolved.
Working in New York City I realized that law seemed like a good thing for me.
But I realized that big law was probably not the way to go.
So, I did go to law school.
Spent three wonderful years at William and Mary, enjoyed it tremendously.
And then I clerked for a year with a federal district court judge in the Eastern District
of North Carolina; Terry Boyle [assumed spelling] who sits in Elizabeth City
which is just south of Virginia Beach.
Great experience.
From there I spent a year in Raleigh doing employment law on behalf of employers
at a 60 lawyer firm which back then in North Carolina was big.
That was right about the time New York, Atlanta, LA, firms were buying up North Carolina firms,
as the banking industry really ramped up in North Carolina.
And finally my wife and I -- my wife went to Dartmouth she was '90 as well, we had a child
and decided that we wanted to raise that child in Northern New England.
And I found my way back up to a firm in Burlington, Vermont.
Did different types of civil legation there.
Great experience, but really, really wanted to try cases.
Really, really wanted to stop fighting about money and start prosecuting.
So, my wife and I had a running joke.
"I would never take a job unless it paid less,"
which is pretty much what happened for most of my career.
You know, I went to clerk.
I don' t know they paid us like 30 grand a year back then.
And then I went to North Carolina firm, and thereafter I came to Vermont, they paid me less,
but interestingly enough the houses cost more.
I never really understood that [laughter].
And then I went to clerk for a judge, and I made a little less.
And I went back to the firm -- I clerked for a judge in the Second Circuit.
It was a great experience, Went back to same that same civil litigation firm.
And then I really wanted to prosecute.
And I took a job in Lamoille County.
Many of you will not know where Lamoille is, but I bet you if I say Stowe, Vermont.
You well recognize that.
Stowe is in Lamoille County.
Though most of Lamoille County is rural and much poorer than Stowe; it's a beautiful,
beautiful place with lots of farms, and only about 25,000 people.
And I got hired on as a part-time contract VAWA Prosecutor.
So they paid me $25 an hour to prosecute the worst cases.
The sex offenses and the domestic assaults, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.
It was a wonderful experience.
I got to be in a courtroom everyday, I got to serve the public,
I got to have an impact on a community of 25,000 people.
I mean you go to the market the Price Shop over in Morrisville; and you run into your victims ,
you run into your defendants, you run into your witnesses,
and you run into your police officers.
All in one 45 minute trip.
But 45 minutes often turns into an hour and a half because they all have questions.
Thankfully you can't talk to the defendant; he's got an attorney.
And you're not it.
[Laughing] So I did that for three years and frankly, and I'll ask the SG
to close his ears, it was the best job I ever had.
There's nothing better than being a prosecutor in a small county if you want to have an impact
on your community and see that impact.
I actually learned how to do something; which is great.
In fact I think all federal prosecutors ought to go spend a year in Lamoille County,
learn how to try a case [laughing].
And then become a federal prosecutor.
I spent three years there, and moved over to neighboring county Washington County
because the longtime prosecutor there,
he died unfortunately Terry Charno [assumed spelling] he was an institution.
And I was lucky enough to get the appointment to succeed him and I did that for two years.
I learned a lot.
I learned that politics -- though I love to watch, though I love to participate in politics,
you know, in terms of assisting others, that being in a public office where you have to run
for the job if you want to keep it is not a lot of fun.
You take a lot of phone calls, and you spend a lot less time in court,
a lot less time helping victims and a lot less time being a prosecutor.
Anyway I did that for two years.
I ran into some electoral difficulties and then I moved on to the US Attorney's office;
which is the second best job I've had since becoming an attorney.
And it is just a tremendous, tremendous job.
They're great resources.
We do great work, and in Vermont, you know, has the population
of a medium size city spread across Vermont.
So in a lot of ways we're a very small office, a very small territory,
maybe it's like being a prosecutor in medium size county in some places.
But it's a great thing to do.
And, you know, so that's really my background.
I don't know if there's another question I'm supposed to answer,
but I think I'll pass to Todd here.
>> Xander Meise Bay: [Inaudible] We'll pass to Todd.
We will come back to you, and ask what you're doing to in the future [laughter].
>> Todd Cranford: Good afternoon everybody.
It's a pleasure to be home.
I was very interested in the topic of public service because particularly in this day
and age where capitalism seems to be paramount there are fewer
and fewer people interested in public service.
Which I have found very rewarding.
And I begin my little discussion with," I think public service was in my blood."
I grew up in Staten Island, New York, and my father's a retired parole officer.
So, I had some exposure to the criminal justice system at an early age.
And my father took I think great pains to try to really interact with his parolees.
And I just had this conversation with him a few weeks ago.
There's one instance that I will never forget
that he actually brought a parolee on vacation with us.
[Laughter] And yeah that was my reaction [Laughter].
And I had no idea what this young man had done,
but I just knew if he was on parole he broke the law.
But my father saw in him someone who had an opportunity to do better.
And he wanted to expose him to what my father believed was a good family life.
That young man became a friend of the family's.
Unfortunately he did get into trouble one or two more times but it was nothing very serious,
but to this day he credits my father with having helped him.
And that was important for me to see and my sister to see because it gave us an opportunity
to realize that we could; as Craig was just saying,
"Give back to the community, in a very tangible way."
Now this was only one young man, and I'm sure he had an impact on others,
but this is the one that I got know.
So, fast forward.
I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 12 years old.
The reasons have changed over the years, but I've always wanted to be lawyer.
You know, at first I wanted to a Titan of Wall Street, then I wanted to be Thurgood Marshall,
and I wanted to, you know, be an instrument of social justice,
and then I wanted to be the US Attorney for the Southern District
of New York and put the bad guys away.
And here I now find myself a public policy attorney in Washington DC.
But I have been very blessed to have the opportunity to work in all three branches
of government at the Federal level and on the local level.
And I've been out of Law School now for almost 24 years,
and 18 of those have been in public service.
And I think it is one of the highest callings that you can have,
and there are many routes that you can take to get there.
I too served as a judicial law clerk when I first got out of law school.
And I have also worked in the executive branch working for the Securities
and Exchange Commission as a regulator.
And then on Capital Hill working for the Financial Services Committee.
So we've been in the thick of things with Dodd Frank over the past few years.
And now as a lobbyist not doing public service now, and in some would argue a disservice,
but it's been for me a very fascinating and rewarding ride over the last 20 plus years.
And even though I'm in the private sector now I still cherish all the experience
that I've had working for the government.
Because you do have an opportunity; one to get significant experience,
two to do something that's rewarding.
and depending upon what city you're in, and what you lifestyle is
like actually make a good salary.
You know, you clearly make less than you can in private sector,
but if money is the most important thing to you.
you're probably not going to go to law school to begin with.
And I'll stop there.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Leah.
[Background Noise]
>> Leah Threpenowski: I'm Leah Threpenowski.
I think we have a lot of the same aspirations all the dream jobs you listed were dream jobs
that I've had.
I went to law school because I wanted to impact change.
I had lunch with Nells [assumed spelling] Armstrong earlier today, and I said.
"I don't know how this happened, but I work for the man, I'm married to the man,
I drive the man's car," you know, so a lot of ways it's "what are you doing here,
you know, talking about public service."
But what's been nice for me is I went Dartmouth.
I came straight through and went to Columbia, I did not take any time off
because my father told me taking time off is for white people.
So I said, "Oh.
Okay." [Laughing] And went straight through.
I think one of my big advices to you is to rethink that.
I wish I had taken a little bit of time and done other things,
but it was nice because it meant I started practicing law pretty young.
I'm a Senior Associate now.
I was at Simpson Thatcher and Bartlett for three years in New York City;
which was in one of the top litigation departments in the country.
A lot of hours, a lot of work.
I'm very proud of that job.
I enjoyed the job.
>> Todd Cranford: Did Beatty head up the litigation department?
>> Leah Threpenowski: Yep, yep.
A lot of Dartmouth alums.
That's probably why I got the job because I went to Dartmouth.
I'm proud of the job and, you know, I'm glad I did it.
Three years out of that I came to the realization that I've kind of come
through all along that as much as I was interested in being the next Thurgood Marshall,
I loved of financial services law, I loved the Securities Act, I love the Exchange Act.
I loved arbitrating.
And you're like, "Oh God this can't be what I can't be good at."
I wanted to work for the NAACP, but I really realized that I liked working for a law firm,
and I wanted to do it in a sustainable way that I could do it and not burn myself out.
So, I moved upstate to Albany took a job at Nixon Peabody.
It's fairly nine to six kind of job.
I love it.
I argue. I take depositions.
I do all the things that my friends that are still at the law firms in New York
that they started with haven't done yet.
And it gave me the time to kind of get back into public service.
I'm currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors
of a federally funded community heath organization.
So, we provide affordable care no matters what happens [laughter] to the people in Albany.
I also do a lot of pro-bono because again I chose a different work environment
where my definitely most moving legal experience in my career has been getting asylum
for a Tibetan woman who was born in India; so therefore did not have kind of the --
getting asylum for Tibetans can be open and shut to some I would say,
but this was a very tricky case because she was not actually born
in Tibet not actually seeking asylum from Tibet.
You know, I think as far as setback go I really wanted to be a clerk.
I applied twice for a Federal clerkship didn't get one either time.
So I think, you know, a lot of public interest jobs can be hard to get.
So though you may have some setbacks in trying
to steer your career toward public service; it is doable.
And it's doable in the private sector; it's a question of maybe not being in the biggest city
or working for the highest paying firm, but finding a way to make that balance
so that you're still involved in the community.
I guess I'll close real quickly with a kind of neat thing that happened to me last week.
I was at the grocery store and two young African American women where checking me out,
and I said, "Oh, you know, you look like a girl that I went to law school with."
And the young woman said, "Oh, you're a lawyer?"
And I said, "Yeah."
And we talked for a minute, and they were teenagers going to the public high school
in Albany asking about what it was like, and you know as I walked away I said,
"Well I'll see you in court one day ladies."
And they're like "Yeah, yeah."
You know, it was a really great feeling.
And it's one of those thing that if I were still working, you know,
80 hours a week I wouldn't do my own shopping, and I wouldn't be able
to have those kind of interactions.
So [laughter] you know I think that to me,
the law no matter what you can do you really can continue
to serve your community provide advice, provide guidance.
So I hope that no matter your path takes you you're able to do that.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Mr. Verelli.
>> Mr.Verelli: So, here's how I'd like to approach this topic.
My professional life was for a huge chunk of it a lot like yours, and then after clerking I went
into the world of private law firms and worked, you know,
in the private sector for a very long time.
So, what I want to do is first talk about how as a lawyer
in a private setting you can still engage in very meaningful public service.
Then I want to talk about after that a little bit about the last few years of my life,
and what I've learned about that.
And what may be relevant about that.
So, before I started in a law firm I had a great, great privilege to be a law clerk
to Justice Brennan on the Supreme Court, and during that time it was 1984/1985.
It was time when the states had started to become more vigorous
in their use of the death penalty.
In 1972 the Supreme Court had held it was unconstitutional.
In 1976 reversed course, and said it was constitutional,
and states started using the death penalties as part of their criminal process
in the late 1970's, and these cases took a long time to work their way through.
But by '83, '84, '85 there were a lot of people in line to be executed,
and they would file last minute petitions at the Supreme Court asking for stays of execution
and one of the law clerk's jobs was to deal with these petitions.
And one thing that struck me as I would read these petitions late at night was
that very often they reflected the poor quality of lawyering.
Not so much in the petitions themselves that we were reading, but what they pointed out was
that the people who were death row seemed
to have almost universally gotten very poor representation when they were in front
of a jury, and their life was at stake.
So I said to myself, going through that experience that I was going to try
to do something about that in my career.
And so when I went into private practice I started taking death penalty cases
on a pro bono basis, and over the years have done many of them.
So, one point here to make is that just as Leah suggested, "You can be a lawyer
in a private firm setting and make very significant contributions
to the public interest while you're doing it."
What I tried to do at some point a few years into this was decide I was going to take,
you know -- what lawyers in law firms do is have to record their billable hours, you know,
and which, you know, everyone hates and I hated it [laughing].
But I decided to that I would make sure that at the end of each year that at least 10%
of those hours were pro bono, and public service hours.
And that was pretty easy to do with theses death row cases
because they were very labor intensive [laughing],
and there was a never ending supply of them it seemed.
But you know over the years I did a lot of these cases, and they in addition
to helping me I think, fulfill a part of the obligation that every lawyer should feel
to serve the public as part of being a member of this profession,
they were enormously beneficial to me.
Of all the people I represented on death row five of those cases went to the Supreme Court.
So I appeared in Supreme Court five times representing people on death row as a result
of having made this decision in 1984 that I was going to devote part of my time to this.
And so where I would never be in the position I'm in today, I don't think,
had I not made that choice to do this kind of work and had that experience come
out of it of just being in this position.
But even more importantly the experience I had doing that work,
although sometimes it doesn't work out so well,
has been I think the most rewarding experience I've ever had.
And there was one case in particular that I like to talk about;
where I started representing a fellow on death row in Maryland 1992.
He was on death row so he'd already been convicted and sentenced to death.
And I was representing him in Habeas Corpus proceedings first at the state level and then
at the federal level, and that case was an 11 year odyssey.
We had a trial in the State Habeas court in which the judge tentatively ruled
in our favor on, and then waited two years and issued an opinion ruling against us.
And then we eventually got into federal court and the federal trial judge ruled in our favor,
threw out the death sentence, threw out the conviction.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed
and reinstated the conviction, reinstated the death sentence.
And we filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court,
and we didn't really think we had much hope, but the court took the case and we were able
to argue this case in the Supreme Court.
And the Supreme Court invalided the death sentence on the basis of an argument
that actually kind of connected up to my experience back in 1984;
which was that the lawyers representing him had done an ineffective job,
and he therefore did not receive the rights he had under the Constitution
to effective representation of counsel under the 6th Amendment.
It's a case called Wiggins against Smith and it ended up setting the standards
that capital defense counsel will have to met in order to ensure
that they provide the 6th Amendment representation that their client deserves.
You know, that experience never would have happened to me had I not decided
that I was going to make that kind of commitment to pro bono and public service work.
And, you know I did a lot.
I mean when I think back and what I was able to do in pro bono work in addition
to all this death penalty stuff, I negotiated a consent degree
to desegregate the public housing of the City of Baltimore.
I represented a Peace Corp volunteer
who had been involuntarily mentally committed in the Ivory Coast.
I represented Teach for America and [inaudible] I had just an amazing,
amazing range of experiences, and I did asylum work, like yours too.
I represented a couple people and got them asylum.
And a couple more and I didn't get asylum.
But the enrichment that I experienced, you know, yeah it's really important to serve
to the public, but you're also serving yourself when you do that.
So that's the first part of the story.
The second part of the story.
2008 President Obama gets elected and I was somebody very much a believer in the President.
And also you may remember 2008 the country was in a really in a bad way.
And I decided at that point that it was really time for me
to embrace true public service and go into the government.
I had settled in Washington largely because I sort of assumed that I would take my law degree
and use it at the Department of Justice.
And then the next thing I knew I was 50 years old, and I hadn't and so I decided I was going
to go into the Department of Justice.
And what's been as wonderful as my life was during all those years
in the private sector, and it was amazing.
I got to work on amazing cases and not only the pro bono cases, but the other stuff I did.
The last three years have really been extraordinary because what it's allowed me
to do is actually work with people who have made the choice to devote all of their time
and energy to serving the public in positions
in the Justice Department and in US Attorney's offices.
One of the things I've had to do both when I was in the Department in 2009
and the Deputy Attorney General's office and again in my current job is I work a lot
with people who are in US Attorney offices around the country;
as well as people in the main justice office in DC.
These are amazing lawyers.
They're every bit as brilliant, and dedicated as lawyers I work with in a law firm.
And an amazing thing; they work just as hard as all the lawyers I knew in my law firm
for a fraction of the pay that the lawyers in law firm worked.
But what they get is in addition to the satisfaction of serving the public, you know,
they get to go around the country and argue on behalf of the United States
on incredibly important interesting issues.
And so as wonderful and fulfilling as my private sector life was; I can see why the service
to the public in jobs like the US Attorney's office
and the Justice Department is exponentially more fulfilling and more important.
So that's I guess my bottom line on it.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Thank you.
I think we're going to open it up to questions.
Now we ask that you use the microphones because this is being recorded,
and this way your question can be heard on the recording.
Okay. I will ask the first question [laughter].
Which is something that students always seem to ask about is work life balance,
and some of you touched on it a bit in your statements, but if you could talk
about that point again, and how you balance the demands of your job
with your demands outside of your office.
>> John Verelli: I'll start.
So I have a problem answering that question
because my daughter's in the audience [laughter].
>> Xander Meise Bay: My apologies for putting you on the spot [laughter].
>> John Verelli: And my daughter will tell you if she's honest
that I probably didn't do the best job at that work life balancing.
But one thing that I did that was important to me was I set a rule for myself which was
that I was going to try to be home every night to have dinner with my daughter and my wife.
I didn't always make it, but most of the time I did, and often dinner was at about 9:30,
but for me that was about as close I came to work life balance I guess.
But it was very important for me to set that kind of a norm for myself,
and so however you do it, I do think it's good to think about it in those terms, you know,
figure out what it is that actually really matters to you and turn it into a norm
that you're going to try to actually live by.
And not just kind of a vague aspiration.
>> And you came to a lot of soccer games.
>> John Verelli: And I came to a lot of soccer games too.
That's true.
Did catch a lot of soccer games and track meets too.
>> Leah Threpenowski: I spoke a little bit about hours
and I think I made a large work life balance decision when I left the city.
But one thing I will add is I do think it helps that whatever you're doing outside of work;
if you can find ways to align it with your job.
So if you're going to serve on a board, making that pitch to your job
that I might meet clients here, this is going to give me more visibility in the community,
that makes it a lot easier to leave for a board meeting when the brief isn't finished.
And then on the other hand I'm very involved in my church,
and that has nothing to do with my job.
But I think it's important to pick something else that is not going to advance career,
well it might advance your career, but you are not doing it
because it will advance your career.
And that kind of lets you have some real personally fulfilling time that's not quite
as resume building as much.
[ Silence ]
>> Todd Cranford: Well I'll briefly say I believe work life balance is a function
of a couple of things.
It's one; obviously your individual priorities and then two;
it's going to be the culture and environment where you work.
Whether it's in the private practice or whether it's in public service working
for a government agency or a not-for-profit.
And you have to make the personal decision given your season in life, you know.
Are you single, with no children, are you married with children,
or are you married with no children.
And I think, it's an evolving and moving process,
and you know work life balance could mean one thing for you
at the age of 26 versus the age of 50.
And you have to be committed to try to do whatever it takes
to be successful professionally, but also be true to your core.
If your family and your outside activities are important to you it's going to be difficult
at times, but you will find a way to be able to do it.
You know, we have all found time to be able to come up now and talk to you
when I'm sure there are things that we all could be doing back home, but it was a priority,
and this was important to us and that's why we wanted to come back.
I mean aside from the fact that we love Dartmouth.
You know, it's always important to be able to find that time, and so I challenge you
as you begin careers when you finish college or finish graduate school, you know,
determine what is important to you at the time and don't be so strident in it
that you allow good opportunities to pass you by whether again it's in private sector,
or working for a not for profit or working in the Government because you fear
that the work life balance isn't going to be there.
There will clearly be seasons when it's illusive.
I mean you're just going to have to put in the time, your family will miss you,
your organizations will miss you.
I've always taken the position that, you know, for periods I'm fine with that.
I will work around it, but I refuse to take a position where it was going
to be a prolonged stretch of time of years; where I was not going to be able
to do the other things that make me happy.
And now that I am married and have children, make my wife happy [laughter].
>> Craig Nolen: Thanks.
I guess a few observations; one, I have found
that I work the same amount of hours wherever I am.
So whether I'm in a law firm paying me the most amount of money
or I'm at the States Attorneys office
as a contract part time prosecutor making $25 an hour.
And I think that, that is true of a lot of people.
That no matter what the setting is there's something inside you that dictates, you know,
how much time you're going to commit to that job.
And, you know, people can change.
I don't know and different environments have different expectations,
but you find an equilibrium in any job and I just found that myself
and the people I've observed in different workplaces, you know, if they work really,
really hard at the law firm when they go work
for the county prosecutor they work really, really hard over there.
And their spouse says to them, "Gosh, you know, you took this huge pay cut,
I thought you're going to be home more."
And you sort of scratch you head and you go, "You know, I think it's going to take some time,
I'm learning how to become a Prosecutor."
But it doesn't.
It doesn't change.
Two; you know with a family,.
I have 15 year old, and I have a six year old, and I have a wife.
And so...
>> God Bless you.
>> Craig Nolen: Thank you [laughter].
What I found is that I had to determine what was important to them, because my time is limited.
I stay busy at work, and I try to do as much as I can at home, but I think I've been successful
in determining; well okay, Shelby likes to ski with me during the ski season,
and that's really important to her.
And so that is something -- I mean I love to ski, but that is something
that I make sure I make to do because that's important to her.
And Sophie who's just turned six, you know, she likes to wake up early on Saturday mornings
and make pancakes with me and then go on some sort of adventure.
That's what's important to her.
I can't get home for her dinner because she actually eats early and then she goes to bed
at 6:30 and sleeps 11 hours [laughter].
I usually see her in the mornings.
I can't get home by 6:30 generally.
So I think that's a key and connecting with my family members and spending the time with them
on the things that are important to them like making some of those soccer games
for the older one and now for the younger one, that really I think is quality time
and it helps the balance, and it makes me happy.
It makes me happy.
So, you know, I think that those really for me are sort of the two observations in this area.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Well thank you.
I saw a hand over there.
>> This question actually kind of piggybacks a little bit on what you were saying, Craig.
I mean what you were really getting at is that some of that work life balance is really just
about who you are as a personality and how you're wired and how you work.
And one of the things that the last panel that I couldn't help but being slightly amused
by actually was there was a range of people and there was a very broad range
of personality that was sitting at that table.
And I kind of want to rope you into this too John because he's sort of --
I'm very sad that Paul Houghs is not here because that was a very strong personality.
But there are so many different kinds of people who wind up going to law school and not all
of you have practiced, not everybody practices, some people wind up teaching.
Some people wind up going into the non profit or public service sector,
but not in a legal capacity exactly.
I get a lot of students who come to me wanting to plan for law school,
and I find myself thinking a lot about who they are and how their wired, and whether I think
that actually going to be a great fit or not or whether I think, "Yeah,
law school you would love it, but I don't think you're going to practice," or,
"You know, I don't think you're going..."
So, if you could kind of talk about the way in which personality type has kind of factored
into how you've thought about your career, and if John would jump in on that, too.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Well let's us start with John since the microphone is so at the ready.
>> John Morelli: Sure.
I actually went right from here to law school and turned down a high school teaching job
that I really wanted to take, and was really not true to myself,
and spent most of law school regretting the fact that I had gone
to law school quite honestly [laughter].
And I say this as somebody who just loves the law right now,
and my law school friends are very amused by that.
Graduating from law school decided to do the high school teaching that I had turned down,
and so I went into high school teaching and it has just been pure serendipity
that has led me back into this profession because I couldn't afford to do anything else.
I took a job teaching at a boarding school so I was teaching and coaching and, you know,
supervising a dorm and all that, and it was just too hard to maintain the relationship
with the woman, who's now my wife, who lived an hour away.
There was a new federal judge appointed in New Hampshire, and I was looking for an exit
from boarding school life, and I thought, "I'll clerk for a year
to two and go back and teach civics."
And it's just, you know, that serendipity I guess just took over again.
But I do think it's a really great point.
I love the law.
I love thinking about the law.
I love the problems that arise in litigation.
I don't think that I would have been a happy person being a trial lawyer though,
as a litigator; I'm just not wired that way.
I have a sister who is and loves it.
And so, you know, I'm just echoing what Julie said.
There's so many paths that you can take with the law background, and there's so many ways
in which you can find occasion to, you know, to find your talents and find your loves.
And that's what I think makes it a really exciting path,
and again I probably wouldn't have said that from 1985 to 1988,
but in [laughing] looking back on it I feel like I'm really,
really lucky that I went [laugh] actually.
[Laughing] So.
>> LeahThrepenowski: I was going to say people
who know me personally before they know me professional always say, "You're a litigator?
You're too sweet to be a litigator."
And I often send my husband to like fight with the car repair people,
and I'm not a combative personality.
I love being a litigator though.
Because I love to readand I love to write.
My favorite time of day 2 o'clock when the phone stops ringing, and I get to spend the rest
of my afternoon just writing and briefing.
And I think a lot of people say, "You shouldn't go
to law school unless you are really sure you want to be a lawyer."
Which I don't think is true.
I think you shouldn't go to law school unless you're sure you're ready be a student
for three more years, because it is like going to high school again;
as far as a class everyday, and having a locker, and those sorts of things.
But I do think that as more and more women are in the practice the kind of idea
of what is a litigator and what is a good litigator; I would like to think is changing,
and I think as far as a person who is pragmatic, enjoys giving advice, enjoys asking questions
and listening to the answers is sort of a different personality of litigator that I would
like to think that as more women enter the practice will feel comfortable
that there are other personalities.
And, you know, the argument style I love to take is kind of professorial almost,
like you're teaching the judge what it is that you have to say.
The judge knows more than you know, more than I know obviously, but I like that approach
as opposed to bang on the table and acting enraged.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Mr. Verelli, do you want to comment?
>> Donald Verelli: This is a hard question for me to respond to effectively
because it's never occurred to me to do anything other what I've done [laughter] my whole
professional life.
You know, I remember a day in my first year in law school in the fall,
and it was an afternoon class civil procedure and I was sitting
on the bench before class outside the classroom with two of my close friends,
and we were talking about the subject that was going to be discussed in class that day.
And I remember this feeling coming over me that where I just said to myself, "Boy,
I understand how this all works."
I just kind of got this feeling that this was something I knew.
And my brain plugged into the law effectively, so I'm not sure I can explain
that in a rational way, but it did, and that I really liked it.
And I've been a very fortune person because that feeling has never left me since that time.
So I think I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing,
but I can't explain it to you in any rational way.
It's just kind of the way it's unfolded.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Is that a hand I see.
>> Yeah.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Okay can we get you a microphone.
>> Thanks ma'am.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Thank you,
>> My question is, if you think you do want to enter public service law
or like public interest law, do you think there are any benefits or drawbacks from going
into private first, or is there some temporal advantage of doing something before another.
Just out of curiosity.
>> Donald Verelli: I have a prospective on that; which is that actually what you will hear is
from the private firms is that you get a lot of really good training at the firm
and so you should do that first, and then you can go do public service later.
I don't agree with that.
I think first for reasons that you heard
from the panel here you actually get a lot better experience in a public sector position
as a young lawyer than you do in a firm like Simpson Thatcher or Jenner and Block where I was
where you can often wait years and years before you have a chance
as a young lawyer to do some significant things.
So I don't think you get benefit of training, but what you do get is addicted
to a very high income level [laughter]; which means that any job that you're going to take
in the public sector is going to require you to make a judgment to make considerably less money
than you'd be making if you were at a big firm.
Now people do it, but I do think it's actually hard [laughter] to do.
I think it's hard to do.
And a lot of people have trouble with it.
And so I don't think you get really get a training benefit
and I think you may actually make it harder for you to do what you really want
to do by going into a firm first.
Now having said it's actually harder to get a public service job as a young lawyer
than you might think, because I think there are a lot of folks who have decided
that they need another path in the law besides the big firm life, and so getting a job
as an Assistant United States attorney, or getting a job in the State AG's office,
or getting at NAACP Legal Defense Fund, or any one of a number
of another public service organizations can be very competitive and difficult,
and so maybe you'll end up at a firm for awhile, but I do think that there isn't a logic
to my mind that suggests that you should start at a firm
if anything the logic is you start in the public sector.
>> Xander Meise Bay: On that point I'd like to make a comment;
which may perhaps exceed my authority as moderator.
But I feel that I wanted to let the students in the audience know which is that...
>> Separations of powers [laughter].
>> Xander Meise Bay:...there have been some really, my opinion,
good changes to law student loan and law student loan forgiveness in recent years
under the current administration, and so for instance I graduated from law school
and I also got a masters at the same with over $200,000 in debt
if you add up law, masters and Dartmouth.
So, I won't comment on what my personal career desires might have been at the time,
but from a financial standpoint there were only a certain number of jobs one can take,
and make a loan payment on a house basically that was the piece of paper on my wall.
And only a portion of that money was forgivable at the time
because only a portion of it was government loans.
Now my husband's in law school, and he faces a very different set of choices because all
of the graduate school loans that he has for his law degree, same amount actually probably more
because tuition keeps going up not down, are backed by the federal government.
And so if he were to take a job in, say, an US Attorney's office
for a registered 501(c)(3) organization; he could go into income based repayment.
And so his monthly loan payment would be capped at a maximum of 15%
of his income over the poverty level.
There's a certain little formula and what have you.
But I mention this because people think that it would be impossible for them to go take,
you know, a job making $30,000 a year out of law school, even if they really want
to do public service because of the financial obstacles,
and those obstacles aren't necessarily present today if you can fall into one of these.
There's some law schools that actually have their own programs on loan forgiveness,
but there also is a federal program on loan forgiveness.
So I wanted to make sure I made that point at some point.
Now I believe we have a question or comment over here.
>> Just a quick comment.
You know, there's a story that says that if there's one lawyer in town they have no work,
as soon as there're two lawyers in town there's a lot of work [laughter].
So I just thought I'd offer a contrary view
to the Solicitor General on the point that he just made.
My own career path spent four years in a large law firm and then it went into the government,
and in the federal government for 10 years before moving back
and now practicing again with a fairly large law firm.
I do believe that law firms do a lot of good training of young associates
to teach them how to be a good lawyer.
They don't necessarily get the great experience, and I used to say that when I moved
to the government after being an associate for four years that I all
of sudden became the senior partner, the junior partner, the senior associate,
the junior associate, the paralegal, and the copy repair person.
So that in the government you get tremendous experience, but I will also say that one
of the things that I got to benefit from and these are things that take place
at times but not necessarily always.
The government had a competitive pay program, so when I moved into the government four years
out of school I was making 25% more than my colleagues who had gone
into the government straight from law school, and continued just
because of certain intricacies in the federal pay system.
And I spent 10 years in the federal government so I highly recommend it to everyone
as a great career, but I just did want to make sure just as there are lots of paths
of what kinds of things you will do as a lawyer, there's lots paths on how to get there.
>> Craig Nolen: Can I just chime in for a moment?
>> Xander Meise Bay: Sure.
>> Craig Nolen: And I just want to say if you think you want to be a trial attorney,
and you sort of decide that in law school.
It looks exciting on TV, it's far less glamorous in real life.
But one thing you should strongly consider is becoming a state prosecutor at the county level
or a public defender because in this day and age not that many cases try
in the civil litigation area even the insurance defense cases.
And if you want to do that and it's very, very exciting, and it takes a lot out of you.
That is just about the only way you're going to learn how to try cases is those two areas.
There're a few places here and there where you may get to try cases on a regular basis.
But as a young lawyer you can learn how to try a case and you can take those skills
into private practice, into the US Attorney's office; wherever it may be,
and you'll have those, and because of that you will be a rare commodity,
because of so few litigators know how to try cases.
And when you know how to try a case whether you're a criminal defense attorney,
a civil litigator, a prosecutor you have a huge advantage over the other guy.
Because most of the other guys don't know how to try a case, and they don't want to try a case.
And if you want to try a case and know how to do it, your client,
or the government you work for is in much better shape.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Excellent point [silence].
>> I taught history here at Dartmouth for about 40 years.
I figure I wrote somewhere between 250 and 350 letters
of recommendation [laughter] for law school.
Part of it was my grades correlated almost absolutely with the LSATS,
so I can be reasonably good predictor of whether they were going to get into law school.
But my question has to do with you concentrated here on the public and the private,
and the private has been largely large law firms.
The lawyers, the students that I remember best that went on to law school,
one works in the baseball commissioner's office, one is a lawyer for a college,
there's a whole range of things that don't fit into the two broad categories.
And my question is just simply, am I talking about 5% of the people who come
through law school or 30% or 15% I mean?
>> Xander Meise Bay: Who would like to field that?
>> Leah Threpenowski: One thing you are talking about is kind
of the in house path it sounds like.
Which I did a brief stint in.
I had a consignment for a buyer's store last year they make Nivea, and Aquaphor, and Eucerin.
Many people you talk to in a law firm are really looking to go into those jobs.
There's aren't as many of them, it's harder to get them, and in academics as well.
I live in Albany so I sometimes lecture at Albany Law School a couple lectures a year.
And I think you had asked about kind of what people are interested in.
And those are two things I'm certainly interested in.
I was in a panel last week when I was sitting in the audience listening to in house people trying
to take notes on how to get their job [laughter].
I'm also listening on how to get your job, and your job, too [laughter], so...
>> Xander Meise Bay: I think we're all taken care of here.
>> Leah Threpenowski.
[Laughter] Throw out my business cards, you know.
I think the law is a great thing to do if you have a short attention span and like to learn
about lots of different industries.
And I'm starting to realize that I'm far enough in my career
that I don't know what I don't know.
And I ask everybody "Well how'd you get there."
Like, you know, there's never ever any logical path it seems like and you can do things
to position yourself like if you want to go to public sector you need
to have some volunteer work to show why you've been hiding in a law firm
for seven years to sound sincere.
But I think, you know, those types of jobs you just mentioned are ones
that people are very interested in I think and that they're harder to come by.
>> Todd Cranford: And professor, it's been a couple years since I've been in law school,
but I don't think it's changed much; that there's very little effort made
in most law schools to expose students to the types of careers
and opportunities that you're referring to.
There's been increased effort probably in the last 10 or 12 years on the public sector,
you know, more programs, clinics, more classes.
But it is really more generally geared towards what is considered the traditional practice
of law, and that is going to law firms to be corporate titans, to be litigators,
to be tax attorneys, to be bankruptcy attorneys, and it's not until attorneys are
out in the real world trying to practice that they realize, "Wow I had other options,
you know, I didn't know this existed."
And I think too the point that Leah was just making; there was a time when many
if not most in-house positions were considered the places
where attorneys went just before they retired.
But now in-house positions are very robust and very difficult to get because one,
companies have streamlined, you know, how much money they want to spend on outside counsel,
and so now they are hiring younger, and what they feel better prepared attorneys
to do the work in-house and they staybecause these positions tend to be nice.
If you're with a good company that has interesting work that's going
to pay you well you tend to stay, and so they don't turn
over as frequently as some other positions.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Please use the microphone?
>> Just to add to that.
I mean as you all know probably that the legal profession is undergoing seismic changes
right now.
And we in legal education are -- everybody is talking about, you know,
what should the law school experience look like.
Given the changes that are forthcoming, and there's a sense
that you know this isn't a single recession that's going to end,
and we'll go back to how things were in the past; I think there's a lot of thought
that things are going to be just structurally very different.
One of things of we're doing is we're teaching entrepreneurship courses,
I can never pronounce that word well.
>> Xander Meise Bay: I'm going to interrupt and say that the we've [inaudible] school of law.
>> I'm sorry I meant the University of New Hampshire School of Law down in Concord.
There's been huge focus though on experiential learning;
we're really focusing on our externship programs.
We're really focusing on our clinical programs where you can actually function
as a practicing lawyer and represent clients in law school.
And we're trying to teach people about how to manage a law office, how to start a law office,
you know, we encourage people to go get experience first.
But everything's changing and legal work now can be done from anywhere,
It doesn't need to be done, you know, from, high rise in a big city at all.
And so your generation is going to be not a generation, I don't think,
where many people are go, and hook up with one or two
or three organizations and spend your life with them.
You're going to be moving from situation, to situation, to situation and you're going
to be an active architect I think of your career.
>> Xander Meise Bay: Well, we have time for one more question.
If there is one.
Okay. Well I have to thank you all for coming today,
and again for coming to our Law Day events.
We look forward to seeing you in 2013.
And for the students in the audience I want to let you know
that the Dartmouth Lawyers Association we have so many members who are willing
to mentor, to give advice on law school.
I know that the Office of Career Services once a year does do a session
on how to apply to law school.
I gave it last year, I know they either have already given it
or are about to give it this year.
And so if you're considering applying to law school I certainly would recommend looking
into those resources that are on campus.
But you're alum network here at Dartmouth, as I think you all know by now, is really,
really strong and so I recommend that you take advantage it, and something that Leigha said
about you know finding out about how people got
to where they were, or find out about their path.
That is a great way to think about some of these things.
If you meet somebody and you're like,
"Wow that job sound really cool, wonder how they did that."
Ask them, and find out what their path was and maybe that might help you find yours.
So with that thank you and have a great afternoon.
[ Applause ]