My Experience at PLEN: Career Paths and Networking

I walked into PLEN's Women, Law and Legal Advocacy seminar having virtually no idea what to expect. I am not a pre-Law or a Political Science major. In fact, as a Theater major, I’m on the other side of the spectrum. I became interested in law school over the summer and went into PLEN with the goal to explore legal advocacy and public policy as a career path. Law has always seemed like an interesting and viable career for me. I like the idea that I can combine my law degree with basically any field I am involved in. However, lawyers are portrayed as conservative over-achieving sticklers in the media, and I just didn’t think I could fit the part.However, I refused to let my preconceived notions sway me from my intuitive desire to know more about law.

IMG_1488On the first day, I was excited and nervous. Looking around, I saw girls from every background who generally looked my age. Although many were Political Science majors, I was relieved to find others who came from fields I would never associate with law.  As the conference continued, I found many speakers whose stories I resonated with, who looked like me, and who were in positions I could see myself in. One of my favorite moments from PLEN was the incredibly stressful simulation we did on the last day. I didn’t know how to draft legislation and didn’t know much about criminal justice reform. Tensions were high. The simulation required lots of multitasking, collaboration and patience. This may sound strange, but I enjoyed the stress of it, having to make quick and rational decisions, brainstorming rapidly, editing as we innovated, it was all so much fun. At the end of it, everyone was able to see their own contributions, and I think we came to a happy medium.

By the end of the conference, I felt confident that there is a place for me in the law arena. I just have to go out there and pursue it. One of the biggest takeaways from the Women, Law and Legal Advocacy seminar is how to pitch yourself. Everyone made it clear that your “you” (hobbies, mannerisms, involvement, appearance) is extremely important. Many of the speakers talked about having a “pitch” of sorts ready for professional environments. This can be especially helpful with networking. Although I’ve always been told that networking is important, it was great to hear real world examples of its benefits. The PLEN seminar has given me much more insight on the diverse paths in law. After this seminar, I will definitely research more into law schools and try to connect with people who have similar interests as me.

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Noni Ford attended the Women, Law and Legal Advocacy seminar as a senior at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She is a Theater, Film and Media Studies major with a concentration in Theater and two minors: Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Studio Art. She loves costumes, painting, dancing, and cheesy musicals. She attended this seminar with a scholarship sponsored by K&L Gates.

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