Fall 2017: Diversity in Law
The Mentoring Circle is a cohort of ten undergraduate students that meet with a different legal professional every Friday to learn about her experiences and accomplishments.
This semester, the Columbia Pre-Law Society's Mentoring Circle focuses on diversity in law. We are grateful to have the opportunity to speak to a wide range of legal professionals, including a New York Supreme Court Justice and the General Counsel of Birchbox, to learn about the wide range of career paths that a law degree can provide.
Despite an increase in women and people of color enrolled in law school, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse fields- especially at the General Counsel level. Furthermore, women and especially women of color continue to make less than their male counterparts. Students are encouraged to question and discuss why law remains one of the least diverse fields.
Reflections by Mentees
Reflection by Yang Li
On November 17th, the Pre-Law Society had the honor to invite Janine Pollack to join us for an intimate conversation with members of the Mentoring Circle. Ms. Pollack is a partner at Wolf Haldenstein and is a member of the Firm’s Consumer Protection practice. She specializes in class action and representing the consumers in cases of defective products or deception. While fighting injustice for her plaintiff, she also spends her time between being a team leader for Increasing Diversity in Mass Tort and Class Action Leadership for the Duke Law School Center for Judicial Studies and serving as a member of the Women in the Legal Profession Committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York. On a brisk Friday, we as undergraduates hoping to go to law school had the fortune to hear her story and her career path.
Reflection by Zachary Alridge
I’ve found the experience to be exactly what I hoped it would be when I applied; the program has been something of a survey look at the lives of professionals in law, a vantage point that has boosted my interest in pursuing a career in the field after college. Each week we meet someone who informs us, very candidly and openly, about their professions, their education and their lifestyles, and these meetings have been elucidating and, above all, reassuring — no, you don’t have to know what you’ll do with your post-undergraduate life, and yes, a job in law can be satisfying on many different levels, from community activism to monthly makeup packages. Where does makeup come in? This past week we met Courtney Browne, General Counsel for Birchbox, where she discussed her legal responsibilities at the makeup company which usually involve matters of intellectual property and reviewing trade deals, to name two.
Reflection by Rachel Ijams
Last week, the mentoring circle went downtown to visit Judge Crane. After braving an incredibly slow 2 train and the unforgiving subway doors (I still have a bruise on my upper arm), we made it to the courthouse. Judge Crane was kind enough to take the time to introduce herself and explain the purpose of the court before letting us watching two hearings from the jury box. In just that short time, we were able to observe some classic courtroom scenes: lawyers insulting each other, lawyers flipping through thick stacks of evidence, even a frustrated court clerk.
Reflection by Paris Wilkinson: MakerBot General Counsel, Kathryn Hurley
On October 13th, the mentoring circle embarked on a journey down to Brooklyn to meet Kathryn Hurley, the General Counsel for MakerBot. As soon as we arrived at the office, Kathryn greeted us all with warmth and care. She led us to a conference room with a beautiful view of downtown Brooklyn and began to tell her story. She is a New York, more specifically, Brooklyn native, who attended Howard University for her undergraduate degree, then proceeded to attend Georgetown Law. Throughout the entire conversation, one aspect about Kathryn Hurley became clear--she is incredibly passionate.
Reflection by Camille Sanches
During her conversation with Mentoring Group’s meeting on Friday the 13th, Kathryn Hurley, General Counsel, of MakerBot spoke about the importance of trying out different legal fields while in law school, strongly recommended taking a Computer Science class to help ease into the ever-expanding tech world, and raved about her love for her Google Glasses. The Georgetown Law alumna has been with MakerBot since 2013 which gave her the opportunity to see the tech startup adjust as the staff size fluctuated and watched as it transferred from private to public hands. All of these changes affected her job and pushed her to learn how to adjust to varying co-workers and assignments. Hurley noted that the change was difficult, she went from being able to rely on another attorney to aid in making decisions to being one of the only consoles the company can rely idea, but ultimately it helped her better her research skills and taught her to realize that it’s okay to not always know all of the answers.