Temple Law’s Affinity Group Coalition (AGC) held its second annual Professional Development Academy – an afternoon of mock interviews conducted by practicing lawyers, resume workshops with career services, and discussion about microaggressions in the workplace capped by a panel presentation and networking event.
The Academy’s purpose is to give Temple Law students an opportunity to hone their interviewing skills and prepare for their upcoming summer internships, but also to offer perspective and guidance from practicing attorneys on how to succeed in practice as a member of an historically underrepresented group. Students heard from three panelists: Rahat Babar, an attorney in the office of the New Jersey Attorney General; Reginald Streater LAW ’18, an associate at Archer Greiner; and Min Suh, a partner at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC. AGC President, 2L Nadijah Campbell, moderated.
Asked about how to “market your diversity,” Streater told the audience: “I belong in every space I enter …. Walk into a space as if you have a right to be there. Ask yourself what unique challenges from your childhood can help you find new ways to solve problems? Use your world to help your firm be a better place.” Suh added her thoughts as well: “Take every advantage of all the resources available to you, in particular PDLG (Philadelphia Diversity Law Group).” With respect to interviewing, she also encouraged students to “Be yourself. Bring three things not related to school to tell the interviewer that will set you apart. Make them remember you.” Suh also counseled students to take responsibility for their own success: “It’s up to you to take advantage of every opportunity you get – your success at a firm or anywhere is based on what you do with these opportunities. Seek them out!”
Panelists also offered advice on researching a firm’s diversity and, where necessary, helping to improve it. Suggestions ranged from accessing your network of attorneys from underrepresented groups to asking for specific details about what the firm has done to date. Babar encouraged students to consider: “do they have a diversity and inclusion plan? Is it in writing? Does it have benchmarks to which they are holding themselves accountable?” Suh reminded students that they could speak up if they saw a need or learned about a program that was successful elsewhere.
Streater added: “You are still a whole human being. When you go into legal spaces, it can dehumanize you. Resist that.” He encouraged students to adopt four specific tactics to stay grounded in their humanity while pursing success in the legal profession:
- Have your own Board of Directors – people to whom you look for guidance and advice;
- Join your affinity bar associations;
- Join PDLG and similar organizations; and
- Cultivate internal supports – people whom you trust to have your back.
Campbell, AGC President and moderator of the panel, noted three important take-aways from the event:
“1. You are meant to be here; embrace the space and don’t self-select yourself out of an opportunity.
2. Be confident in your abilities, and
3. Take advantage of the many opportunities in the workplace and at Temple Law.”
About the Affinity Group Coalition and the Professional Development Academy
The Affinity Group Coalition is made up of Temple’s law student organizations whose membership have historically and presently been underrepresented in the legal profession. The current members of the Affinity Group Coalition are APALSA, BLSA, JLSA, LALSA, MENALSA, Out Law, and SALSA. Temple Law’s Office of Student Affairs and Office of Career Services are partners to the Professional Development Academy.