The Tufts Lawyers Association (TLA) hosted its 12th annual Law Day on the Hill event on Thursday, March 5 in Alumnae Lounge, with the goal of teaching interested students about law school and the legal profession and providing an opportunity for networking, according to Associate Director for Pre-professional Advising Stephanie Ripley.
The event kicked off at 6:00 p.m., featuring a simulated law school classroom session led by Michael Simon (LA ’89), followed by an alumni panel on “Engineering, Science and the Law” and a networking event for students and alumni.
Tom Dunn (LA ’00), who currently serves as TLA’s treasurer and was co-chair of this year’s event along with Dan Valentine (E ’93, G ’95), explained that the event provides an opportunity for students to learn more about a potential career in law.
“The idea of it is to give an introduction to Tufts students about what to expect in law school, what to expect as a practicing lawyer — whether in government or in private practice, whatever field that they may do,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to have the students ask questions to alumni that attend, and also in recent years we’ve done a simulated classroom exercise to give attendees a sense of what it’s like to attend a law school class.”
Ripley explained that she communicated with TLA in advance of the event to convey what Tufts students are hoping to get out of it.
“I’m bringing more of the student perspective — what I think students are kind of looking for, more of the networking part of it — just things that I hear from students in what they’re looking [for],” she said.
President of Tufts Pre-Law Society Demetra Hatzis-Schoch emphasized the value of the simulated law classroom session.
“It’s really great,” she said. “You kind of get to see a mock law classroom, and you get to participate … It’s a really interesting case usually.”
According to Dunn, this year’s panel’s topic of engineering, science and the law was in part inspired by an engineering student’s question at last year’s event about what it would be like for an engineering student to go to law school.
“The panel discussion this year has Tufts grads that have an engineering or science background, all of which also attended law school and [are] serving in different ways using their law degree in their professional careers right now,” he said.
Ripley added that the panel’s emphasis may serve as an attraction for both liberal arts and engineering students at Tufts.
“So we’re doing a little bit more of the partnership between engineering students and the students going on to law school,” she said. “We try and set it up so that it will be a great program for both engineers and liberal arts students.”
The networking event after the panel helps encourage students to connect with alumni and ask questions, but it also serves as a good opportunity for alumni to give back to current students, according to Ripley.
“I think it’s great too for the alumni to be able to come back to campus for such a great and large event, so I think it’s wonderful for them to be able to network with the students and really to be able to tell them about their careers and their professions,” she said.
Gaining a more nuanced understanding about law school and careers in law is important before going directly to law school, Hatzis-Schoch, a senior, explained.
“I think law school is a very serious thing to undertake, and people should really learn as much as possible about it before they commit to it, and they shouldn’t just go because they don’t know what else to do,” she said. “It should be a genuine interest in the law or something to do with a legal degree.”
Dunn underscored that both alumni and current students stand to gain from the event.
“It’s been a great experience for each Law Day I have attended for the students and for the alumni,” he said. “The alumni obviously get out of it an ability to reconnect with people who are deciding to go to law school, give some of the lessons learned, maybe things that worked for them or didn’t work for them, share that with the undergrads. For Tufts students, they get to ask the question that’s on their mind, they get to hear about what law school and practicing law is like.”
Planning for the event usually starts the year before, according to Dunn.
“Typically [planning] starts in the early fall, late summer of the year preceding,” he said. “That’s when the chair of Law Day is asked to serve as chair. Through the fall and the start of winter, typically then the program description, the speakers are all lined up, and by January we want to get in on the website and get the event up so people can register.”
Although Tufts students are not involved directly in the planning, Tufts Pre-Law Society helps publicize the event and increase awareness among the student body, according to Hatzis-Schoch.
Dunn added that in the future, he would like to pair up alumni and students individually, but he said this will remain dependent on equal numbers of both signing up and a sufficiently early registration period.