Orientation for our 1L students is one of the busiest weeks of the year for the Law School staff. During the program, the Career Development Office staff puts on a 2 hour program about career-related topics, featuring panels of current law students and alumni speaking about their job search experiences. The Professional Panel is my favorite part of orientation and my favorite program of the entire year. We always invite dynamic alumni representing a variety of practice areas who are doing amazing things within the legal community, and this year's group was no exception.
This year's panel featured our US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jim Letten
, Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson
, and Managing Attorney for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Bernadette D'Souza, among other practitioners. The attorneys provided wonderful practical advice on everything from succeeding in the first year of law school to searching for summer internships to transitioning to legal practice and beyond. But I think my favorite piece of advice came from Mr. Letten, who is always a compelling public speaker.
He shared with the incoming 1Ls that his long and prestigious career as a prosecutor, both at the state level within the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office and with the US Department of Justice, was briefly interrupted during a two-year stint with a private civil litigation firm. Although he loved prosecution and working as a litigator and felt it was his true calling, he couldn't help but be enticed by a bigger salary and a fancier office. He said that he immediately regretted the decision and ended up right back where he always knew he belonged, with the US Attorney's Office, where he remains today as the highest ranking government law enforcement official in South Louisiana. Mr. Letten urged the students to follow their own passions above all else, to be true to themselves, and to listen to their gut instincts about their skills and experiences. He told the students to take the well-meaning advice of loved ones, friends, professors and alumni, consider it, and then store it in their back pockets, but to always keep their own interests at the forefront.
Starting law school can be a difficult transition, and it is so easy to get caught up in what classmates are doing, or what family members are encouraging. But so many of our students come to Tulane with all of the passion, enthusiasm, and accomplishments required to be successful in the legal field. I have no doubt that if the members of the Class of 2014 follow their hearts and remember who they are, they will go on to do amazing things when they leave Tulane Law. And that's why I love being apart of the journey.