Since the Great Recession, Bay Area law students have found a tougher entry-level job market. As a mentor to law students and lawyers, long-time BASF member and McDermott Will & Emery partner A. Marisa Chun wondered whether law students could be introduced to potential job leads and mentors on a greater scale than what she could do one person at a time. And that’s how BASF’s newest diversity pipeline program, the Open Doors 1L Job Shadow Program, was born.
“During college, I spent spring break shadowing an alumnus at his workplace. It was incredibly valuable in helping confirm my desire to go to law school. I thought, why not replicate that at the law school level and give first year students an insider’s view of life at a particular legal workplace?” said Chun.
When she approached The Bar Association of San Francisco and University of San Francisco Law School (USF Law) Dean John Trasviña with the idea, they greeted it with enthusiasm. Eventually, a leadership committee was formed, consisting of Chun, Associate Justice Martin Jenkins, California Court of Appeal; Valerie Alabanza-Cary, Juniper Networks; Drew Caputo, Earthjustice; Chris Kearney, Keker & Van Nest; Johanna Hartwig, USF Law, and Liz Tarchi, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
Aimed at opening doors of opportunity for diverse law students, Open Doors strives to help 1Ls jumpstart their professional development through early, day-to-day immersion in dynamic legal organizations.
The program seeks to include students who may have had limited prior exposure to legal workplace settings. USF Law was selected as the pilot law school for Open Doors’ inaugural year. After a year of planning, 20 USF Law 1Ls were chosen to participate in the program during their spring break week of March 9. After a program orientation, the students participated in a range of shadowing and interactive activities at their host organizations to give them a better sense of whether they might wish to pursue a career in that type of legal environment and to make contacts and build valuable relationships.
Seventeen Bay Area legal employers from the private, public, corporate and nonprofit sectors welcomed the first-year law students, including Keker & Van Nest; McDermott Will & Emery; Rogers Joseph & O’Donnell; Schiff Hardin; Seyfarth Shaw; First District Court of Appeal; San Francisco District Attorney’s Office; San Francisco Public Defenders Office; Office of San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang; Bank of the West; Bechtel Group; Intuit; Juniper Networks; Netapp; Earthjustice; Natural Resources Defense Council; and the Transgender Law Center.
On March 11, Keker & Van Nest and former BASF President Chris Kearney hosted a thank you celebration for the student participants, the host organizations, and the leadership committee.
Based on initial feedback, the program may be expanded to include additional Northern California law schools, in order to open doors for more future Bay Area lawyers in the years ahead.
For more information about the Job Shadow program, email Jareem Gunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.